Recognising the business benefits and risks of the Technology Evangelist

Technology EvangelistThe technology evangelist is typically categorised by the persistent  advocacy and promotion for the use of a particular product or technology with a view to its broad adoption.

Case in point: The emergence of Cloud computing over the last decade has seen the proliferation of Cloud Evangelists, which has brought the role into the mainstream. Cloud and tech companies recognise the role of the Tech Evangelist through formal job description and accountability for technology uptake and retention across their existing and potential client bases.

Through the lens of the technology Evangelist

The Tech evangelist has a range of tools at their disposal, some of which include:

  • Speaking at public, client events and industry forums and associations to showcase the philosophy, approach to and potential applications for the technology – often in an engaging, open forum, where a high level of audience participation is encouraged to garner a degree of enthusiasm by illustrate the robustness of the offering.
  • Promoting the viral deployments of a technology offering (often Cloud) as a way of engaging with potential users. Facebook is the textbook case of a viral success story (for the moment at least).  This has also unleashed the Shadow IT phenomenon, which carries with it certain systemic risks to the enterprise.
  • Utilising appropriate media channels to spread the word, including social media (Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to name but a few) as well as through the mainstream media in the forms or articles and whitepapers.
  • Developing and exploiting the power of networking at all levels – individually or through professional and industry associations

What about the internal (employee) Tech Evangelist?

If business technology is used within your organisation to deliver its services and otherwise underpin your business, the consequences of an uncontrolled and potentially influential technology evangelists on the ‘inside’ can have some side effects that may not always be in your organisation’s best interests.

There are material risks to the enterprise adopting the employee evangelist’s technology choice, should the proposed path to adoption bypass enterprise cost, governance and risk oversight processes.  Perfect solution… for another organisation or situation, possibly.

Moreover, for non-technical senior executives, being able to balance the influence of the true technology evangelist with hard, commercial facts may not be easy.

Agnosticism rules

The Tech evangelist that understands your business, the realities of enterprise IT, is technology agnostic and absolutely vendor agnostic would be an asset, provided the  influence, opinions and value is channeled appropriately. Distinguishing your own Tech Evangelist from an opinionated acolyte of a particular vendor, or vendor aligned IT consulting organisation’s offering, may be a challenge.  Implicit reliance on support from your IT consulting provider may be a poor substitute for a truly agnostic technology evangelist.

If your organisation depends on its IT systems to survive and prosper as yourself the question:

  • How can the energies and influence of a persuasive technology evangelist be harnessed to achieve technology decisions that are appropriate for my organisation in the long term?  That is – if you are concerned about your organisation’s well being in the long term, that is!