How Startups Can Balance Risks While Adopting New Technologies

In Chicago, a startup is born every 48 hours. The perceived view of being un-tech-sexy, un-cool and value-driven is changing with several cool technology startups emerging in the Groupon era. Few companies who have made recent headlines in this changing tech landscape of Chicago are Groupon, Grubhub, G2 Crowd, SilkRoad and our firm tradeMONSTER.

While all these and many other tech startups are adopting to new technologies like open-source stack, cloud, HTML5, hadoop, etc. it can be difficult to figure out which of these, if any, is right for you and why.

So, if you're asking yourself this, there are two other prominent questions you should ask yourself about adopting any of these:

  1. Is this the right move?
  2. How can I execute a plan to minimize losses and analyze risks early enough?

There are five gradual steps that can help in minimizing this risk and help in adjusting the plan of roll-out or help to fail fast and move forward. Steps 1 to 3 help to answer the question of making the right move and the rest help in executing and bailing out soon when the plan is not working.

1. Evaluate a business case for a competitive differentiator

  • Understand ROI and map technology to a business case.
  • How is this going to help in customer acquisition/customer retention?

2. Execute a proof of concept

  • Perform POC in a non-mission critical project to test the technology.

3. Demonstrate revenue and business case

  • Determine competitive edge, define feasibility and revenue impact. This gets a buy-in from stakeholders and becomes a business plan.

At this point, if the results are not optimal, an organization should not make the move to adopt this new technology. If they are positive, then you can proceed with this list.

4. Create an agile development plan

  • Short four to six week development cycles to analyze pain points and risks.
  • Initial release cycles should focus on framework and technology challenges.
  • Functionality use cases should be ordered to focus first on minimum.

5. Analyze risk; fail fast and move forward

  • At every step (with short cycles) analyze overall impact and risk.
  • For new technologies and innovation, short cycles help to detect failure and minimize impact.

A failure detected soon is also a big win; failing fast enough and changing paths makes a winning strategy. This approach helps in taking calculated risks, minimizes the budget and time overrun making it easier to adopt new technologies. With HTML5, open source and cloud we have used this risk assessment strategy at tradeMONSTER and it has always worked. Hence, fail fast always and keep moving!

Sanjib Sahoo is the chief technology officer of tradeMONSTER. Rated "best for options traders," tradeMONSTER is setting a new standard of excellence and innovation in the online brokerage industry. tradeMONSTER was the first online broker to deploy a streaming desktop-like trading experience in a web-browser, featuring professional grade tools in a dynamic and customizable interface combined with integrated investor education, transparent commissions and an extremely knowledgeable and dedicated customer service team. Sanjib took a lead role in recent launch of patent pending “tradeMONSTER mobile” and was awarded the “2013 CIO of the year” by Executives’ Club of Chicago, AITP and SIM.

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