The courage to take risks
In economic times like these, a company’s ability to identify the right areas for investment is more important than ever before. This is especially the case when it comes to software investments, which are most often used to reduce costs or to gain competitive advantage over the competition.
The use of semantic technologies for automating manual tasks, or for making previously out of reach knowledge more accessible, is (fortunately for us!) an area where companies are still making investments despite the crisis, because they understand the importance of having this strategic advantage.
Still, when I suggest an automated solution to replace a manual activity (tagging, categorization, monitoring information flows) to potential customers, I am occasionally met with some resistance. Many times, the customer is not able to properly evaluate the pros and cons, and ends up opting for a very basic solution, and in doing so, loses the opportunity for tremendous cost savings and service improvements.
In economically challenging times, the aversion to taking risks is higher than normal, and businesses are scared to take the leap, instead waiting to defer that decision to more financially secure days. The fear that an automatic solution will not be able to perform with the same accuracy as a manual one is understandable, but it’s the wrong way to look at the question. Considering all of the benefits and advantages that can be gained with a successful semantic technology deployment, in my opinion, the risks are negligible compared to the rewards you will reap in terms of overall reduced costs, competitive advantage and more efficient operations.
The costs of an automated system are much lower (typically, the investment is recovered within the first year) compared to a manual operation. Scalability is not an issue, and you can easily add or modify various aspects of the functionality, freeing people for the more complex and greater value added tasks that—no matter how sophisticated or clever technology is—cannot be replicated or automated.
Certainly the need to take risks is not for everyone, but, in the words of Don Abbondio, “se uno il coraggio non c’è l’ha, non se lo può dare:” if one doesn’t have courage, then he also has none to give!