Implementing new technology can be expensive and time-consuming. New solutions emerge all the time and you need an effective way of proving that your technology investments deliver tangible benefits before you commit your resources.
You want to see rapid time-to-value. You don’t want to spend three years and thousands of pounds on a solution that doesn’t fit your business. There is a way to do this that incorporates the core principles of the Agile methodology and modern business thinking into the traditional proof of concept (PoC).
Two things drive businesses to invest in new technology
1. Investigate new opportunities
This tends to be more exploratory. Perhaps you’ve read an article about the transformative potential of AI. Maybe you’ve heard rumblings of an exciting new trend or noticed that your competitors have started investing in emerging technology. There’s an opportunity out there you want to take advantage of it.
2. Solve specific business challenges
Alternatively, you have a specific business problem or challenge you need to solve. COVID-19 is the perfect example. When the world went into lockdown, many businesses were forced to invest in remote working tools to support their newly decentralised workforce. There’s a defined end goal; it’s just a case of finding the right technology to get you there.
In either scenario, you need to validate potential solutions before you commit. A PoC ensures you don’t waste time and resources on speculative projects that won’t deliver value and guides you towards the right solution if you’re looking to solve a specific problem.
At Wirehive, we call this approach Jumpstart.
How does Jumpstart work?
Jumpstart is a managed proof of concept programme that helps you deliver, test, and implement exciting new initiatives without breaking the bank or waiting years for a result. It enables you to quickly validate solutions and seamlessly transition to production.
Our approach is split into three phases.
Before we do anything else, our consultants work with you to establish your objectives. This ensures everyone’s pulling in the same direction and fully aligned to a single goal. We then design a top-level solution using a combination of market and customer research, stakeholder interviews, requirement gathering, and technology research.
This forms the foundation upon which the rest of your efforts are built.
Next, we get your pilot solution up and running to see what it looks like in action. Because Jumpstart is built around agility and the “fail fast, learn fast” mentality, we’re able to test and validate your pilot solution quickly and cost-effectively. We also run regular sprint reviews to monitor progress and refine your solution, ensuring it meets your requirements.
3. Review and Roadmap
This is where we take a step back and evaluate the success of your pilot solution. We provide you with a detailed recommendation report to analyse the success of your PoC and lessons learnt. This also helps us quantify potential business value and determine if your solution is viable long-term.
If it does, great! We can start to transition from proof of concept to full production. But if it doesn’t meet your needs, we can simply iterate and go again.
The results: what can you expect?
Jumpstart is designed to give you the confidence that, before you even start the race, you know you will reach the finish line. But the finish line isn’t the same for everyone and the results you can expect from the programme depend on several key factors.
Your starting point
If your goal with Jumpstart is to explore the emerging technology market and uncover any exciting new opportunities, success is hard to define. Let’s say your starting point is based on the statement “I want to harness the power of AI to make my business better”. You might discover that, in your business context, AI is of little value. But by the same token, this may lead to a long and expensive cycle of iterations before you reach the same conclusion.
By contrast, if you have a defined goal – to improve customer service on your E-commerce store by implementing a chatbot or migrating your legacy systems to the cloud – you could find the ideal solution in a couple of sprints. Set your expectations accordingly.
Budget and scale
A proof of concept is as much about ruling options out and knowing where not to invest as anything else. But a SME working under tight budgetary constraints may not have £20,000 to spend on a 6-month project that only serves to narrow down their options.
Larger organisations might see this as a positive. Spending £20,000 to confirm that their original proof of concept needs work may ultimately save them £100,000 in the long run if they’d committed to a solution without testing it first.
"The PoC demonstrated that it was indeed 100% achievable to run the Ageas data analysis systems on Microsoft Azure, ensuring the accuracy, robustness and scalability that it required."
The price of failure
Failing fast is an integral part of the Agile methodology and provides real value when it comes to running a successful technology proof of concept. But what does it mean to fail fast? In our experience, it depends on your business context.
As valuable as failure can be, it always comes at a price. Some businesses simply can’t afford to spend two years investing in a solution that doesn’t promise any tangible benefits. So for them, failing fast means ruling something out quickly and refining the original proof of concept to find something that works for them. But if your goal is to develop a new radiography technique, failing fast could be a 3-year R&D cycle.
Technology is complicated. You need a helping hand
There’s no getting away from it, technology is complicated and you may find what seems like the next big thing is only a flash in the pan upon closer inspection. Though some baulk at the perceived costs, it pays to hire a specialist technology consultant to direct and guide your efforts.
Specialists solve diverse problems for different businesses every day. They see more in a year than most in-house teams see in a decade. It’s like the agency argument. A copywriter who writes copy for 100 different business cases over 6 months is going to be considerably more skilled and experienced than one who only writes about cake every day for a year.
Tech is no different. When you’re in the groove, it might make sense to hire in-house specialists. But when you’re in that exploratory phase, experimenting with emerging technologies or a new problem, having a partner who has seen it all 100 times before, in every context you can imagine, provides real value. They have more skill and experience than you would typically be able to build in an in-house team.