Change is inevitable — except from a vending machine. ~Robert C. Gallagher
In the spirit of technology week, I write this to tell you if you ever get overwhelmed by all the new technology and implementation challenges that come with it; you are not alone.  
As we speak, I am overseeing seven major technology-related changes in my operations. (I do not recommend this…I may have went overboard)  Our Industry is becoming more sophisticated and technology-driven day by day: databases, websites, social media, inventory systems, tracking systems, mapping software, estimating software, equipment. It can make your head spin.  
We must be able to change and adopt new technology for a variety of reasons including efficiency and competitive advantage.  We have all watched many companies in other industries disappear for their lack of ability to anticipate, adopt and embrace technology.  Technology affects our operations in many ways; however, it also changes the culture in which we live and operate and the expectations of those we serve.  For this reason, we must be willing to change and adopt new technology.  
The following are several considerations to assist you in choosing and implementing all the new technology available:  
  1. Culture: Create a culture within the organization that embraces changes and understands its value. There is nothing worse than spending thousands of dollars on technology, trying to implement it, and facing a continual battle for acceptance from your team. Organizations that embrace and adapt to technological advances will be able to effectively implement them and enjoy all the benefits that it offers. If you don’t have this type of culture, get to work on this immediately.  
  2. Cost vs. Benefit Analysis: It is easy to become enchanted and make impulsive decisions regarding technological advances. Slow down and do a true analysis of all the costs and benefits. Costs should include things such as: implementation and training. In evaluating benefits, look beyond efficiency or improved performance and also consider the opportunity to gain a competitive edge or the opportunity of giving time to something else of value.
  3. Operational Changes: Understand how the new technology will affect the entire flow of your operation. Develop new workflows and collaborate as a team. Technology changes almost always change an operation in some way. You must be very deliberate about thinking it all through. Ultimately, a failed implementation can affect your customers and those you serve adversely. 
  4. Importance of Planning: Plan the Implementation. In my opinion, this is the most important part. I have learned from my own failures and encourage you to plan your implementation with great care and effort. A poorly planned implementation can cause damage to your operation, allow you to lose money, and be overall, very stressful. Research various implementation strategies. I am a fan of:
    • Testing the application of the new technology in a sample environment. Choose a group to run with it in real world and work through operational glitches, or things that may not have been considered, before introducing it to your entire operation.  
    • OR Parallel Simulation: Depending on the new technology being adopted, this may or may not work. Run the “new” and the “old” at the same time for a period of time. Again, this allows you to evaluate the integration plan and adjust where necessary.   
The challenge of staying current and moving at the pace of new technology in our industry is both thrilling and challenging. Embrace all the technology in a deliberate, thoughtful way.  
While you work to stay on, or ahead of the curve, keep in mind I don't anticipate technology replacing you, the professional restorer, any time soon.