A Perceived Conflict with Technology

October 22, 2010

A perceived conflict with technology comes from failing to recognize how fast technology changes. All too often, owners do not consider technology early in the design phase. Technology changes rapidly enough that planning for it and its infrastructure is very important. Even over the time it takes to plan and build a new project a new cell phone can go through a generational change. Evaluating whether the current technology during planning will be valid a year or two after opening will heavily affect profitability.

Good business people know… The cost of correction is far greater than the price of planning. 

Despite a desire for all new or newly renovated projects to have brag-worthy technology, technology is often ignored early in the design phase, causing technology issues to arise later.

Consider a 21-year-old renovation project. When originally designed, the cabling infrastructure was more than adequate for the property. But cabling infrastructure has changed a great deal in just the last ten years. So, even if the original infrastructure was advanced for its time, it will be woefully inadequate for the renovated property, over two decades later. Now, the cabling infrastructure is a critical component to the success of the renovation. The desired technology systems (all the equipment most people think of with the word ‘technology’) are dependant on the ITS (Information Transportation System), which few people ever think about. And when there is no one focusing on the technology early in a renovation project, there is very often something missed which costs more to implement than had the technology had been planned and budgeted before (sometimes by a factor of 4 or 5.)

With new buildings, early planning avoids issues with technology room footprints and the ITS. And unlike 1989, when the above-mentioned project was opening for the first time, today we know that technology is screaming along. ‘Future-proofing’ the technology is critical to planning for the building’s useful life TCO (Total Cost of Operation), and it needs to start early in the planning phase. 

DAS (Distributed Antennae System) is now a requirement for many new developments or renovations that anticipate large volumes of people. A conference facility that has inadequate coverage will lose business to the competition that provides it. Even so, DAS is often overlooked since it was not an issue to consider just a few years ago.

And as a final example of a perceived conflict between technology and ‘standard business practice”, let’s look at the hotel industry.

A common practice of many hotels is to align with a technology provider to deliver the required technology for guests who need it for their meetings. The arrangement is often a shared revenue plan where the provider of the technology shares the revenue created with the hotel operator. This practice is an established ‘win-win’ practice. 

Technology has changed a lot since this practice began with the delivery of a projector for milar transparencies. Today, there is infrastructure available that effectively eliminates the need for the ‘shared revenue’ technology provider. However, the hotel will need to have someone who can provide technical assistance to guests who require it. So a decision to implement the most current technology seems to conflict with the current business plan. There is no conflict, there are just options to evaluate, but they need to be assessed early while budgeting for the project.

The pressure to maximize the return on investment can make it appear that paying for technology expertise in the budgeting and programming phase conflicts with the profit motive. This isn’t the case since having the proper technology is critical to the return on investment. Absent a technology consultant, this often results in oversights that can be too costly.

The perceived conflict in technology ceases to be a conflict as an owner experiences the costs of not having someone focusing on technology. As the old song says, the times, they are a changing. The 4th Utility expert (a.k.a. technology consultant) is beginning to be seen as a smart business investment as the cost of correction is evaluated against the price of planning.

by John Davis

NTI Business Development Director – NTI

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