Bonus Round: How To Build Reputation & Avoid Irrelevancy
To say technology moves fast is a huge understatement and makes me sound old.
Wow, we covered a ton of ground in those last five posts!
Over the course of producing these articles, we realized we’d forgotten a very important point so we’re dropping this bonus post about the oft-forgotten topic of digital maintenance. It’s definitely not the sexiest (I mean, we almost forgot about writing about it!) but it’ll keep your platform secure and running smooth. Chances are, it will also save your organization money.
While listening to a recent episode of Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast (check it out if you haven’t already, Oh Canada!), I was reminded of the Ship of Theseus paradox, which goes something like this: if a ship is restored plank by plank until it’s completely replaced, is it still the same ship?
This makes me think about the changing digital landscape in relation to the digital products we build at Palms. To say technology moves fast is a huge understatement and makes me sound old. I don’t believe organizations need to rebuild their digital platforms every year. But with consistent improvements, regular maintenance, and optimization, we’re essentially creating an entirely new platform over time. Or are we? Ask Socrates or Plato, we’re not qualified for that level of thinking.
Many organizations launch a new digital platform and then let it ride (or rot). Months and years go by, the platform remains unchanged and becomes vulnerable to security risks. Before you know it, the platform is outdated, it’s hurting your organization’s reputation, and might already be hacked (we’ve dealt with this a lot). At this point, it’s time to start fresh. A complete rebuild at a big price.
We highly recommend an alternative approach: monitor and improve the things you’ve already built and ensure they’re performing as designed. We’ll observe how users are engaging with the platform and figure out what’s important to them. Hot tip: it’s probably not what you think. I’m a sucker for car analogies, so think of it like this: you drive a new car off the lot, it’s ready to go but it will obviously require an oil change and regular servicing to keep running … just like your digital platform.
We really like Paul Boag’s metaphor in this article where he compares digital to planting a garden: “There is an initial cost but also an ongoing investment as the garden matures.” He goes on to explain that it’s only after a platform goes live that we really learn what users want. We couldn’t agree more, it’s exactly how a platform goes from good to great. Check out our post about measurement for more on that.
“There is an initial cost but also an ongoing investment as the garden matures.”
Selling digital maintenance can sometimes feel like selling insurance, which is why we don’t like to “sell” our partners on it at all. It’s simply a matter of your organization’s willingness to roll the dice. How core is your platform to the day-to-day operation of your business? Here are a few real-world examples to illustrate the point:
Apple releases an update to iOS and as a result, the drop-down confirmation on your ecommerce platform stops working. It worked perfectly before the update but now your customers can’t finish purchasing anything. With ongoing maintenance, we’re an extension of your team and have time devoted to fixing this … and in this case, it’s a code red that we’d get on immediately.
Your server goes down and all files are lost. Gone, your database, your code, everything — there’s no getting them back. I know, a bit of a doomsday situation but it happens. With automated backups, we can minimize the loss — we would have a snapshot of everything that is only a little out of date (if at all) that we can re-deploy rapidly.
Our ongoing work with Farmboy Fine Arts is a good example of how small changes add up to continually improve the overall experience on their platform. Over the course of our 4-year relationship, we’ve made several key updates that solve business needs. These business needs were backed by data, mainly by analyzing Google Analytics data to determine what will make the most impact on FBFA’s users. Most recently we’ve redesigned an outdated navigation, added newsletter signups and the ability to subscribe to an online image library. It’s improvements like these that keep the platform current and useful.
So back to the Ship of Theseus, is it worth replacing the broken planks on your digital platform over time? Clearly, we have our opinion but we’d love to know what you think!