Arq Group Technology Radars – Part 1: Opportunities to add value to your business

December 2, 2015

Author: Gideon Kowadlo

 

Technology radar

Rapid technology - Choices & transformation

We love technology. A passion for mobile is what brought us together. We’re always looking to improve the way we do things and are excited to adopt the latest tools, techniques, languages and platforms. They have the potential to transform the way you run your business.

But there are a multitude of options and sorting through them is difficult. It takes time to learn about and become proficient with new technologies. And switching too quickly can mean that you don’t capitalise on the expertise that you’ve built up over time.

Not only that, but if you are in a typical busy work environment, there are more immediate concerns and it’s hard to justify researching the options. It’s a common scenario.

So ………

  • How do you find the relevant new technologies?
  • How do you prioritise them?
  • How do you balance use of familiar technologies with new ones?
  • How do you balance technical interest with business drivers?

Technology radar - The Solution?

We’ve started to answer these questions with our own set of Mobile Technology Radars, drawing inspiration from ThoughtWorks’ popular Technology Radar. Our radars are not intended to be true for every organisation; it is our opinion about all areas of Mobile Technology.

technology radar quadrant

[One quadrant of a Technology Radar. Reproduced from Thoughtworks’ Nov 2015 Radar, Techniques quadrant.]

A technology radar categorises technologies, represented as blips, into one of four quadrants: tools, techniques, languages/frameworks and platforms. There are four sectors (concentric circles) that situate the blips in terms of relevance for the organisation. Those sectors are described below. Starting from the centre, which following the radar metaphor is your location:

Adopt We will use this technology where applicable.

Trial: We think we want to use this technology, and will trial at next opportunity.

Assess: Looks useful, this technology needs research.

Hold: We know that it isn’t ready or isn’t useful.

We’ve taken and extended this concept to create a Technology Radar for each of our mobile teams:

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Integration Services
  • QA
  • Design (UX/BA and Visual Design)
  • Delivery

The blips that have the biggest impact across the organisation or industry make it to a collective Mobile Technology Radar. Importantly, there is an additional, central radar, for ‘Problems & Opportunities’.

The power of the radar - Connections

The team radars are up on the wall, spread around the ‘Problems & Opportunities’ radar in the centre.

Arq technology radars

They are collaborative dynamic documents. Green sticky notes are used to add blips, and there’s a pen on hand to indicate blip movements between sectors.

Each team radar resembles enabling technologies. The ‘Problems & Opportunities’ radar presents, as the name states, the problems and opportunities of the organisation. Strings are used to make connections between them, matching the problems/opportunities with solutions.

Making a connection is a powerful act. In fact, a technology blip should not exist (or should be in ‘Hold’) if it can’t be substantiated with a corresponding blip in the centre. Connections can span multiple radars, with the problem/opportunity being the nexus of the enabling technologies. Through the act of finding connections we can:

  • Identify new opportunities for the organisation
  • Surface solutions that already exist for problems/opportunities
  • Prioritise and focus research work with broad ‘business’ context
  • See the ‘business value’ of a technology clearly
  • Match internal stakeholders around a research spike
  • Foster ongoing discussion and collaboration to achieve these objectives

We are finding this approach to be both fun, effective and motivating. We’ll be publishing more blog posts in the near future, on how we put the radars together, and how we run workshops to drive actions. A web version is also planned. Get in touch if you’d like to learn more.