A Guide to Technology Lifecycle Management
You're constantly looking for ways to innovate and grow your business using technology, and you're not alone. Technology is advancing rapidly, and innovative organizations are hopping on the moving train as quickly as the marketplace demands.
Between 2023 and 2027, 75% of businesses will likely adopt new technologies like big data analytics, AI tools, and cloud computing. So, building a technology-driven company should be a top priority, whether you're a startup looking to stand out in your niche or an established firm seeking to sustain marketplace relevance.
Still, multiple factors are involved in this process, from outlining business goals to evaluating existing tools, assessing potential new investments, and more. And without an idea of how different technological assets are developed, acquired, used, and discarded, these considerations can be challenging to manage.
Here is where the technology lifecycle comes in. It shows the origin, usage, transformation, and eventual extinction or replacement of a particular technology. This knowledge helps businesses make data-driven decisions about adopting, investing in, or transitioning away from it.
This article will explore the critical stages of the technology lifecycle, highlighting how organizations can manage each phase efficiently and adapt their operations to maximize emerging trends.
What is the technology lifecycle?
The technology lifecycle is a series of stages a technological asset undergoes, from initial creation or purchase to when it's no longer valuable.
Externally, the technology lifecycle refers to the process an invention goes through, beginning from its development phase and ending at its eventual extinction. But, in the context of technology adoption, which is our focus for this article, the technology lifecycle starts from awareness and ends at an eventual replacement or disposal.
An in-depth understanding of the technology lifecycle empowers companies to adopt the most efficient tools for their specific needs, sustaining their competitiveness.
What is technology lifecycle management?
Technology lifecycle management is a framework for managing your company's technological assets. It refers to the policies, procedures, and tools you employ to efficiently assess, acquire and use these assets.
An effective technology lifecycle management strategy helps businesses improve their day-to-day operations, boost overall customer experiences, and establish themselves as industry leaders.
What is the difference between the technology lifecycle and the product lifecycle?
The technology lifecycle (also called the technology adoption lifecycle) more commonly refers to the organizational process of researching, purchasing, and implementing relevant new technology for business growth. It focuses on the work done by internal IT professionals driving organizational innovation via technology.
The product lifecycle is associated with the phases a product goes through, from its ideation and creation to its market introduction, adoption, and eventual decline. It is more relatable to product managers and teams whose jobs involve developing and selling these technological products.
Note: Generally, "technology lifecycle" can also be used to describe the product lifecycle, but "product lifecycle" is not typically used to describe the technology adoption lifecycle.
The 6 technology lifecycle stages
The exact technology lifecycle stages may vary across businesses, depending on multiple different factors. These factors range anything from a technology's complexity to industry differences, asset tracking processes, and companies' willingness to embrace change.
Consider these six key technology adoption lifecycle stages to stay up to date with the technology landscape and make timely, data-driven technology investments.
1. Awareness and understanding
Awareness and understanding involves discovering an emerging technology, learning about how it works, and identifying ways it can benefit your organization. Done right, this assessment phase is where you set the foundation for making strategic, growth-driven decisions on technology adoption.
This process entails two key activities:
- Exploration: This involves reading industry publications, attending relevant events, watching demos, networking with thought leaders, and more — to boost your subject matter knowledge and expertise. These activities also help bridge the gap between surface-level awareness of an innovative technology and understanding its practical implementation, letting you picture how it fits into your business operations.
- Analysis: Beyond gathering information on the new technology you're considering, assessing how it aligns with your company's goals is essential. This process is about analyzing your current technology stack and workflows to identify what needs augmentation or replacement to improve operations and drive growth. With this assessment, you'll ensure that your new technology adoption is not solely driven by novelty but also by a clear business need.
Keep this stage running on autopilot by assigning dedicated team members to analyze your active technologies and monitor technology advancements. This team should also conduct critical research, outline possible benefits, and present findings to stakeholders.
Say your company is considering jumping on the Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology wave but hasn't quite decided yet. You're in the awareness and understanding phase regarding AI's potential impact, trying to determine if it's worth investing in.
At this point, you'll be asking critical questions: How can AI improve customer experiences? Can it effectively simplify supply chain management? In what ways does it fast-track data-driven decision-making?
The answers to these questions will plant the seeds of initial AI adoption in your organization.
2. Piloting and adoption
Having laid the groundwork for adopting a new technological asset through awareness and understanding, it's time to test your hypotheses that it'll be a good business decision. Here's where the piloting and adoption phase comes in.
At this stage, you go beyond having a high-level idea of how innovation works to adding it to your technology mix and trying it out in controlled, real-life scenarios. After testing out the technology for a while, the lessons you learn from the trial run will give you the clarity you need to adopt or ditch it. You'll also get an opportunity to refine your technology adoption strategy based on hands-on feedback and performance metrics.
Ideally, you should be able to answer these critical questions at the end of your piloting and adoption phase:
- Is implementing the technology feasible?
- Are there any practical challenges to maximizing the technology?
- What type of user feedback did you get from your team members who tried the technology? Was it positive, negative, or neutral?
Imagine your organization piloting a new CRM software via a 30-day free trial. As your team navigates the new system, you'll gain valuable insights about whether the software can improve customer communications or shorten sales cycles. And armed with this real-time feedback, you can make informed, data-driven decisions that align seamlessly with your business goals.
3. Integration and full adoption
The integration and full adoption stage (also called the acquisition phase) reflects a transition from piloting to full-scale implementation. Here, potential turns to reality, and strategy translates into tangible outcomes.
While initial stages focused on selecting the right technology, this post-trial phase is all about investing in your chosen asset and weaving it into your team operations.
The integration and full adoption phase is not just about adding something new — it's about making sure the new technology works smoothly with your current systems. The aim is to create a cohesive ecosystem where all your technologies complement each other. Think of it as completing a picture puzzle — you can't just pour all the pieces on the table and leave; you must arrange each bit until the image is completed carefully.
Integrating and fully adopting a new technology augments existing capabilities, boosts operational processes, and improves overall productivity. It also enables more efficient workflows, limited friction between tools, and better cross-team collaboration.
Remember that 30-day CRM free trial from earlier? Say you've confirmed the tool's effectiveness and are ready to adopt it fully. Once you pay the software subscription fee, integrating it entails making it a part of your daily operations, from customer interactions to sales tracking and marketing automation.
What started as a promising pilot has now taken center stage, streamlining your business processes, enabling effortless data flow and collaboration across departments, and ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction.
4. Maturity and optimization
In the maturity and optimization phase, the technology you've adopted becomes an established part of your business processes, and your focus shifts to refining and maximizing its potential. Like nurturing a plant to bear fruit, the maturity stage calls for careful observation and strategic adjustments which cultivate your new technology's capabilities for long-term success.
The specific activities in this stage depend on the technology involved and could entail anything from customizing settings to fine tuning workflows and adopting previously unexplored features. Here, you get to boost your new tool's efficiency and gather critical insights for further enhancements, subsequently improving the entire user experience for your team.
Picture your organization optimizing the newly-adopted CRM software. Here, you tweak the tool's settings and capabilities to align with your changing business needs.
For instance, you can upgrade your team's subscription plan to accommodate more team members, access advanced features, or get assigned a dedicated account manager for a better service experience. These optimization activities then result in smoother customer interactions, more accurate sales forecasts, and data-informed marketing campaigns.
5. Decline and obsolescence
The decline and obsolescence phase is when a technology's usefulness peaks and begins to diminish, causing you to re-evaluate its relevance and consider potential replacements. At this decline stage, your once prominent and thriving technological asset shows signs of aging — like outdated features and limited integration capabilities — hindering your progress instead of aiding it.
Newer, more advanced alternatives emerge, and your existing technology solutions may not match technological advancements. You'll then have to assess the technologies again to determine whether they can adapt to changing times or will become obsolete.
Once you confirm that technologies are going obsolete, your focus shifts from optimizing and sustaining them to optimal change management. This process involves coordinating their smooth exit without affecting your ongoing operations.
As you transition away from a formerly indispensable technology, the next technology lifecycle phase holds the promise of better solutions that are more aligned with your future needs.
Say your organization uses a legacy system like Excel for asset management but now recognizes its inefficiency and overall decline in the face of newer, custom-built solutions. While the tool might be a cornerstone of your operations, the signs of obsolescence are clear. And now, it's time to strategize a seamless transition that guarantees minimal disruption and maximizes the benefits of any incoming technology.
6. Extinction or replacement
Extinction or replacement is the final stage of a technology's lifecycle, where the solution is considered for either replacement or complete elimination from all business applications. In this phase, it becomes clear that the technology has fulfilled its purpose, and the world has moved on.
If you decide the technology's utility has diminished, but its removal will leave a significant gap in your team's operations and workflows, it's time to find its successor. This process entails sourcing technologies that can fill the void left behind and exploring their potential to enhance your business processes.
Consider the example mentioned earlier. If your firm does decide to ditch Excel, it'll be booting it in favor of a more efficient and modern asset management service provider. And as you explore options the market offers, you're not just replacing a system — you're establishing improved asset purchase and usage workflows.
Like clockwork, the end of a technology lifecycle (extinction or replacement) takes you right back to the beginning (awareness and understanding), and these transitions reflect your commitment to adaptability and progress.
Why you need to understand every technology lifecycle stage
You need to understand every technology lifecycle stage because the knowledge helps you streamline internal processes with up-to-date technologies, gain accurate and timely asset information, and achieve significant cost savings.
For example, the US Government Accountability Office (GOA) reports that a minimum of 1.5 million government-issued devices aren't properly tracked or managed, leading to unaccounted expenses as high as $1.2 billion annually. Beyond the financial implications of poor asset visibility, it also causes citizen trust in government agencies to deteriorate and leaves state workers with limited tools for doing their jobs.
RedBeam has fixed these asset management issues for multiple government agencies with its asset tracking software and barcode hardware from Zebra Technologies. The results? Speedier audits, reduced labor costs, and decreased operational expenses.
Use an asset tracking system to manage your technology lifecycle
The technology lifecycle is critical to gaining asset visibility, following necessary regulations, boosting productivity, and maximizing revenue. With custom-built software like RedBeam, you can seamlessly automate your technology lifecycle management.
RedBeam lets you gain visibility into all your company's fixed technology assets so it can stay audit-ready, compliant, and competitive. Sign up for a 30-day free trial to see how RedBeam's platform can help streamline your technology lifecycle and asset management.