The world as we know it is continuously innovating. Technology reinvents itself so quickly that, in the consumer market, everything we purchase is practically close to obsolescence the day we buy it, with the expected life being only a few years before we upgrade again. This, however, is not the case in heavy industry, where investment of significant capital items is required/expected to last 20+ years. So why be in a rush to introduce the asset with “cutting edge” technology that may impact project risk? If the asset investment is going to be around for at least 20 years, then surely there will be an opportunity within its lifetime to introduce technology upgrades during asset overhaul. At this time a cost benefit analysis of the upgrade and retro-fit to the main asset can be conducted, to assess the future operational benefit.
Innovators vs Laggards
This is where, at the Basis of Design (BoD) stage, it is important to consider the implementation of “Innovated benefits” and “Innovative risk”. Put simply, if the technology is new and not well proven, then you are an Innovation Leader and can inadvertently (or knowingly) be introducing Innovative Risk. If the technology is well- bedded down and proven through the early stages of its lifecycle, then you are at the other end of the scale and an Innovation-Laggard, providing Innovative Benefits (and conversely minimizing Innovative Risk).
Pressure will always come from the asset manufacturers to whom you must introduce the new technology. Typically, their response is “the current design will be obsolete and not supported.” If this is the case you should seriously be questioning the product supplier you are buying from. Your asset is going to be assessed for expenditure based of a long life span (remember, we are talking about major assets with a life span of around 20+ years), and if there are strong indications that they won’t support it, then you are introducing even more risk.
The following table by Everett Rogers and Geoffrey Moore provides more insights on the characteristics of Laggards vs Innovators.
Characteristics – Innovators vs laggards