How to Decide When to Adopt New Technology for Your Meetings

The old adage is true: Timing is everything -- especially when it comes to adopting new technology. If you embrace a new innovation too early, you risk investing time and money into something that will never really catch on. And if you sign on too late, you'll have ceded valuable ground to your faster-moving competition.

So when, exactly, is the right time to say "I do" to the latest tech toy?

Although it's impossible to say with any certainty, you can make an educated guess by consulting the Gartner Hype Cycle, according to Successful Meetings contributor Ron Donoho.

"The Gartner Hype Cycle [is] a theory that attempts to differentiate a technology's bold promises from its commercial viability," explains Donoho. "That cycle typically includes: an innovation trigger, a peak of inflated expectations, and a trough of disillusionment. That's sometimes followed by a slope of enlightenment involving the product and, hopefully, a plateau of productivity."

Hype Cycles move from "innovation trigger" on the left to "plateau of productivity" on the right. According to Gartner, where in a new technology's Hype Cycle you should say "yes" depends on your risk tolerance.

"If you're willing to combine risk taking with an understanding that risky investments don't always pay off, you could reap the rewards of early adoption," Gartner reports. "If there are too many unanswered questions around the commercial viability of an emerging technology, it may be better to wait until others have been able to deliver tangible value."

For many meeting organizers, the sweet spot is somewhere in between.

"Executives who are more moderate understand the argument for an early investment," Gartner concludes, "but will also insist on a sound cost/benefit analysis when new ways of doing things are not yet fully proven."

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