The problem with technology magpies

Are we too fond of shiny new technologies?

I read this great post by Seth Godin, it coincidentally arrived as an alert in my inbox within minutes of my talking to a college about a guy (who knows a guy) wanting to run a campaign using a ‘new type of QR code’.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the marketing opportunities from QR codes and blogged around the topic several months ago and although the concept is seriously interesting for marketers, I still don’t see a common QR code reader making it easy enough for the consumer to adopt, which in turn doesn’t make it viable technology to leverage for marketing. At least in my opinion, and as things stand today.

The idea of another type of QR code only adds complexity – it is also possibly damaging to a brand experience through user frustration. We are all guilty of the technology magpie problem – it plagues marketers, managers, techies and excited directors. Myself included! Yet with limited resources and commercial pressures this is an important point to consider.

Dave blogged recently blogged about the Garner Hype Cycle – if we were to combine the takeaways from that post, with those of Seth Godin’s post, it’d look like this:

  • There’s always a lot of technology you could use to enhance marketing performance, whether that’s simple tools and widgets or more involved tactics like integrating QR codes.
  • There are some tools that will offer an advantage, as Seth says “The difference between a technology where getting in early pays dividends … having a website or a blog or a Twitter account early can help, because each day you add new users and fans.”
  • Then there are tools and technologies that offer no immediate commercial advantage and nor is their a particular strategic benefit for early adoption. Like QR codes, which as Seth suggest “don’t reward those that get in the ground floor.”

For example “social sign-on” is a technology I see as meeting these criteria. My tip is to take a look at this technology two companies in a similar space that are worth looking at and, in my opinion, rise to the challenge: Gigya or Janrain.

So I’m saying, sure keep a close eye on the new and innovative, as things change so quickly (and it’s exciting). But focus on those technologies that offer commercial advantage today and in the future, if they’re not being used widely by others yet, then you might also gain early adopter benefits.

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