One of the most famous phrases in technology selection is “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.” If you’ve worked in technology, you’ve heard this phrase. If you’ve worked in healthcare technology, then you’ve probably heard the similar phrase, “Nobody ever got fired for buying Epic.”
Turns out that this phrase while often accurate is also not a great approach for many technology business decisions. Sometimes the incumbent, reliable technology is the best option and sometimes it’s not. However, choosing the reliable technology from the vendor everyone knows just because it’s reliable and won’t get you fired is a bad strategy that will hurt your organization or business long term. Even if the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) this phrase creates for managers is real.
When talking with Josh Gluck, VP, Healthcare Technology Strategy at Pure Storage, he introduced me to a new phrase:
“The Safe Bets You Used to Choose Aren’t The Safe Bets Anymore”
I like this idea a lot and not just because I live in Las Vegas where betting is common. There’s so much value in stepping back and asking yourself if you’re usual “safe bets” have changed and have now become risky bets for your organization. It’s the antithesis of the phrase “That’s how we’ve always done it” which is the enemy to innovation in an organization. I’ve heard many a CIO mention how that phrase is a problem in their organization and something they battle to purge from their organizational vocabulary.
That’s not to say that tradition and standards in an organization don’t matter. They do and sometimes the way we’ve always done it is a good thing. However, the key is to get down to the root of why something has always been done a certain way and understand if something’s changed. Have the “safe bets” of how you’ve always done something put the organization at risk. Have the safe bets put your organization in a position that it’s not ready for the changing reimbursement or security landscape? This is the risk of always sticking with your “safe bets” and doing it the way you’ve always done it.
Framed another way, Josh Gluck told me, “Your procurement process is your innovation strategy.” While I don’t think this should fully encompass your innovation strategy, he’s right. How you procure technology determines a lot of the major changes that happen with technology in your organization. Ensuring your procurement process fights against and evaluates against the common phrases above really will determine how innovative your organization’s IT efforts will be.
When was the last time you went back and asked if your “safe bets” are still the best bets or whether something’s changed? No doubt you’ll discover some areas where the safe bets and the way you’ve always done it are still the best bets. Although, I’ve often found people who do this exercise discover places where new bets are needed and beneficial.