The Top 10 Mistakes Technology Companies Make

In working closely with technology providers over the years, I regularly discover that these companies are making common mistakes that devalue the company, leave revenue on the table, or jeopardize their long-term health. So this special article identifies the top 10 of these mistakes to help you avoid making them.

10. Failure to register a federal copyright for company-developed software

Your company has spent months, and maybe years developing the next-big-thing. You’re out there licensing it to customers, fighting off competitors, and trying to maximize your revenues. What would you do if a customer was misusing your software? What if a competitor was copying parts of it to use in its product? There are various ways to respond to these problems, but one of the easiest to way to strengthen your claims is to register a copyright for the software with the United States Copyright Office. Registration provides you with an enhanced ability to have a court prevent infringing use of your software, and a greater amount of damages that are recoverable. The best part is that registration is relatively easy and inexpensive.

9. Licensing technology too broadly

So you’ve landed that big deal with that big customer. You’ve carefully priced the deal based upon your expectations of how the customer is going to use your technology – by a specific group within the customer’s large organization. You’re hoping that the success of this deal will lead to a greater adoption of your technology within the rest of the company, and ultimately more revenue for you. Unfortunately, you later learn that this one group is sharing your technology throughout the rest of the company, with no additional license fees to you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Why? By failing to carefully and narrowly draw up the license grant in your agreement, you’ve unwittingly granted the entire company the rights to use your technology, and you’ve left a pile of cash on the table.

8. Failure to provide detailed support and maintenance policies

Too often, once a company’s technology is ready to be licensed, determining how to support the technology becomes an afterthought. General and non-descriptive obligations like “providing telephone and email support” and “providing updates” are invitations for disagreements and missed expectations. When is phone support being offered? How quickly will you respond to problems? What is considered and update and what is a new product for which you would charge the customer separately? Many times, you need your customer to provide you with certain information about the problem before you can diagnose and fix it. Set the appropriate expectations in your support and maintenance policies and avoid these issues in the future.

7. Not contracting customers to recurring support fees

Customers want and expect that you will be there to support your product, assist with problems, and provide them updates when you add features or fix bugs. Customers also expect that you will regularly charge them for these services, so why do so many technology vendors sell a product to a customer and fail to structure regular and recurring support fees? In general, a technology vendor’s highest profit margins are realized through a support fee stream, and not in the upfront license charge.

6. Inadequate non-disclosure and non-compete agreements with employees and contractors

The technology business is one of the most competitive industries in the market. Why take a chance losing your competitive advantage by not ensuring that your intellectual property, customer lists, trade secrets, and other sensitive information are properly protected through appropriate agreements with your employees, contractors, and vendors? Finding and using some form agreement that you saw floating around on the Internet somewhere may actually make matters worse if you don’t fully understand the terms. Moreover, simple steps can be taken to ensure that anything developed by your employees is, and remains, your company’s property.

5. Giving away intellectual property ownership too liberally

Many technology companies develop customized technology for their customers, or make customized modifications to their existing technology on behalf of a particular customer. And most customers argue that if they’re paying for it, they want to own it. But giving away your company’s intellectual property in these instances can prevent you from reusing it for other customers – effectively shutting down a potential source of revenue in the future. And many times, your customers may not need to actually “own” the developments – a license right can often do the trick.

4. Using overly broad or subjective acceptance testing

It is not uncommon or unreasonable for customers to want to “kick the tires” of your technology before they pay for it. Problems arise when the customer has an unreasonable expectation of what the technology is supposed to achieve, and either want to withhold payment, or force you to provide extra services to meet that unreasonable expectation. This especially manifests itself when a customer includes acceptance testing language in a contract which is not tied to objective and realistic standards. Although it can be a laborious effort, taking the time to objectify these standards with the customer in the contract can save you significant time down the road, and get you paid faster.

3. Offering liberal source code escrow release conditions

For software developers, you know that your source code is the “crown jewels” of your business. It is the core of your technology, representing months or years of your blood, sweat, and tears. Yet many software companies are willing to give it away, for free, to their customers. How? By entering into a source code escrow agreement with a customer and allowing it to be released to them in situations where the code still holds value for you. Many customers will demand the source code be released to them if you stop supporting the software, but the intellectual property in the code may still be used in your other products or technology, effectively giving your customer the tools it needs to duplicate your technology. Creating very narrow and specific source code release conditions can minimize this impact.

2. Undervaluing technology

What is your technology worth? It’s a difficult question, and value can be measured and determined in many ways. Many new technology companies feel compelled to undercharge for their technology in an effort to break into the market. Although there is certainly some merit in that, I see vendors consistently undervaluing what their technology is worth, leaving significant revenue on the table. Understanding the impact and loss to the customer if they DON’T license your technology is the first key to pricing your product. Plus, under-pricing your product can create an impression that the technology is “cheap” – not a label that will build a positive reputation of your company in the long run.

1. Using a form license and/or services agreement that doesn’t fit your business model

Capturing exactly how you want to provide your product or services to your customer, allocating the risks, and creating each party’s obligations and rights, is not a simple or quick process. Replicating some other company’s form agreement not only exposes you to risks that you may not be aware of, but potentially violates the other company’s copyright in their agreement, and raises the risks outlined in the other points of this list. Having a customized agreement created for you that aligns with your business processes, mitigates your risks, and addresses the laws that apply in your jurisdiction for your industry is a key component in running a successful technology business.

Pepper Law Group, LLC has been working with technology companies for over 10 years to address these mistakes head on and to adopt best practices in the industry. How can we help you? Contact us for a free initial consultation.

Business & Technology Crack – Does Business Drives Technology or Technology Drives Business?

Information Technology and the move to a computerized infrastructure model are bringing great changes to many industries. Often it is the CIO of the company who escort this fundamental shift in the business revenue stream. Leading others through modernization, revolutionize and transformation means you must be able to make changes yourself.

Forget about asking whether technology drives business or business drives technology. Stop perturbing about whether or not technology is strategic. Silence all the confusions about how advance this technology is to that technology. In technology, there are numerous questions that if you have to ask, you probably already know and don’t like the answer. A more satisfying line of inquiry is how much of your technological horsepower is actually being used to turn the wheels of innovation.

Some people says that Technology drives business modernization, novelty, success & Innovations that opens up new doors of opportunities, improves the company’s performance on the whole, sharpens the company’s market intelligence, and makes new things possible for the clients. Another school of thought is that the Business Drives Technology, as such integration is about assisting business to facilitate their profitability by utilizing technology and other resources available to the enterprise. But realistically speaking, the driving force comes from the CEO and CIO of the company, who both endeavor to leverage technology to its fullest potential.

In a society that has become entirely dependent on computers and immediate communications, technology is becoming the heartbeat in the process of office design as decisions on layout and services. Some aspects of technology, like the computer animation & communication, are highly visible demonstration devices. But more of it is in the largely unseen infrastructure, with the emphasis on sophisticated wiring and smart communication devices to provide for an ever greater flow, and on communications and power facilities to keep operations running through almost any anticipated calamity.

In the modernization of the today’s businesses, Common business drivers include; Mergers and Acquisitions, Internal Reorganizations, Application and System Consolidation, Inconsistent/Duplicated/Fragmented Data, New Business Strategies, Compliance with Government Regulations, Streamlining Business Processes. To achieve the success in the accommodation of these business drivers, the sturdy and smart input would be required from both the parties i.e. the business as well as the technology.

In a company, you could cover every surface in your office with how to manage change. But one aspect of change management that often dodges IT Managers is how to better influence corporate colleagues. If information technology drives business decisions, the IT executives must communicate and be persuasive with other department heads on key project management issues.

Strategic planning for Information Technology is one component of an overall company vision for success. This psychoanalysis facilitates IT professionals to successfully define short and long-term goals and ascertain the resources necessary to apprehend such goals. To ensure success, the strategic plan should be developed in a thorough but rapid manner, consist of a brief, succinct compilation of analyzed data, and provide opportunities by which additional planning and analysis can occur.

Several important benefits occur as the result of a successful strategic IT plan. First, employees are provided with an understanding of how their role fits in with the overall company structure. Also, this planning allows managers to realize additional opportunities for growth and success. Finally, important relationships between technology investment and positive outcomes, such as increased market share, are revealed.

It’s now become the industry dilemma that IT people need to know more about business. They need to understand the disciplines and the lingo of business process management, business performance management, customer relationship management, supply chain management, financial management, human resources management, operations management, etc. Lacking that knowledge, communication with business people and understanding of business requirements will forever be troubled.

On the other hand the Business people should also drive their efforts to know more about information technology. As with all communication and relationship issues, this is not a prejudiced problem. Just as IT people need to become more business-oriented, business people need to be more IT-oriented. They need to understand the roles and relationships among the many different kinds of technology upon which their information systems depend, and they need to understand the dependencies among those technologies. Business people need to have a working knowledge of the technology stack as it affects their capability to get information, perform business analysis, and make informed business decisions.

Beyond the relatively straight-forward needs of business becoming IT-oriented and technologists becoming business-oriented, there lies a new challenge. We must develop common understanding and shared perspective of value, an issue that is both a business concern and a technology consideration. When business and IT have different meaning and outlook for value, conflicts are certain to arise.

Business and IT organizations often have two evidently different perspectives of value. IT expert generally take a data-to-value approach. Where Data produces information, information enhances knowledge, knowledge drives action, action produces outcomes, and favorable outcomes deliver value. Business management typically uses a goals-to-value system. Business drivers and goals determine strategies, strategies drive tactics, which in turn produce results, and positive results produce value.

Effective business/IT relationships are ultimately a question of alignment. New IT skills, new business skills, and new perspectives that sets the stage for business/IT alignment. But it doesn’t assure alignment. To achieve genuine association there are several things that must be done; some by IT, some by the business, and some collectively.

Conflicts between business and IT organizations have existed from the very beginning of automated Information Systems. We have accelerated in so many ways both in business and in technology. However, the problem still pestilences most of the businesses. The Business/IT crack must go away. The cost is high; the value is null; and the barriers that it crafts grow bigger each moment. The problem can be fixed, and the time to fix it is now!

Pervaiz Pyar Ali holds advanced degrees in both Business Management and Computer Science. Having worked in the Banking industry for the last five years in Pakistan, Pervaiz has formulated several projects in his organization.

Technology Transfer Case Study – Pathfinders for Independent Living, Inc.

Pathfinders for Independent Living, Inc., a nonprofit organization, was founded after the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA.) Pathfinders provides information and assistance to elderly and disabled individuals and their caregivers on how to live as independently as possible. Its core value is to¬†Promote Self-Reliance. The culture within Pathfinders is one of friendly support. Pathfinders’ IT leadership proposed a project to design and build a network infrastructure that would provide security for sensitive data, data storage, Internet access, email access, updated applications and hardware, and user training. Changing the environment would affect the organizational structure and culture of Pathfinders. This paper discusses the organizational changes that occurred due a change in technology.

Technology Transfer

Technology transfer describes activities that have the aim of establishing measurable process improvement through the adoption of new practices. Assistive technology reduces the gap experienced by disabled and elderly individuals in accomplishing daily activities. Some of these technologies are text telephones, Braille computer monitors, infrared pointing devices, artificial limbs, and assistive software. Introducing and encouraging the use of these technologies and many others to Pathfinders’ consumers, is a responsibility of the independent living specialists.

The independent living specialists assist the consumers in identifying the assistive technologies needed, applying for funding to purchase the technologies, and educating the public on the various technologies available. However to provide its services to its consumers, Pathfinders had to adapt to current information technologies.

A Strategy for Technology Transfer

Recognizing the relationship between technology transfer and process improvement is fundamental to Pathfinders’ approach to change. Technology cannot be changed without some impact on the process or personnel that use the technology, be it an increase in productivity, a reduction in cost, or a fundamental change in method. A number of key issues had to be addressed for the technology to be successfully transferred. These are divided into several categories; technology issues, process changes, and changes in culture.

Technology Issues

Pathfinders would join the Information Age by installing, new computers, file servers, network printers, a local area network (LAN), and Internet access. The installation process required preparing the PCs before delivering them to Pathfinders, then a visit to the office site to build the network and deploy the equipment. The PCs were standardized on Microsoft applications. Following the installation of the network, etc., training on the use of the software was provided. With the installation of the infrastructure complete, each independent living specialist and the executive director had a personal computer, email, and Internet access.

Designing and building a training center provided the opportunity for anyone to come in and learn more about computers and office application software. Pathfinders provided some basic training courses. Additionally, computer books were available for use with the computers to learn how to use the programs. Access to the Internet was provided. Funding was allocated through federal funds to support the changes in technology.

Process Changes

Before the technology changes, there were only two stand-alone PCs available for use by the staff, these PCs were very old, running DOS applications. Employees were forced to share the PCs or use typewriters to complete correspondence. Data was maintained on floppy disks and hardcopy. Access to the Internet for research was accomplished by going to the local library, which consumed valuable resources of time and personnel. Deploying the new infrastructure significantly changed the way the employees worked. The changes in infrastructure gave real-time access to the Internet, consumer data, and improved data security.

Changes in Culture

Prior to the deployment of technology, the employees were equal in their knowledge of using the available tools at Pathfinders. With the delivery of their network, a fundamental change occurred within the employee dynamics. An atmosphere of resentment developed due to an imbalance of knowledge and workload. Some of the employees went out of their way to grasp the advancement in technology thereby, improving themselves and their work processes. They pursued the educational opportunities offered to them by Pathfinders and enhanced their knowledge of computer applications. Productivity for these individuals increased, causing an increase in satisfaction by Pathfinders’ consumers.

Conversely, there was a minority of employees, who took a stance in not excepting these changes. These individuals spent much of their time complaining that they could not do the work using the tools provided, or repeatedly requested help from the employees that understood the technology. Defense mechanisms were employed to justify their reactions to the new technology. These employees viewed the technology change as a threat and wanted nothing to do with improving their computing skills or their work environment. However, as training and practice in using the improvements to the technology progressed, acceptance began to increase and resistance began to decrease. Change is difficult in all organizations but to stay in business Pathfinders was forced to change with the times.

Pathfinders operations depend heavily on federal grant money. Each year Pathfinders must forecast how that money will be spent and report that the goals of the previous year have been met. The Federal reporting system began as a hardcopy report that evolved to an online reporting system. Without the changes in technology, Pathfinders would find it difficult to apply for Federal grant money or report its disbursement.


Careful consideration was employed to determine if a change in IT infrastructure was warranted within the Pathfinders organization. Potential obstacles were identified and anticipated. One of those obstacles was the affect that a change in technology would have on the organizational culture of Pathfinders verses the improvement in customer service. Pathfinders identified that resistance to change and fear played a role in the effectiveness of the change. Additionally, Pathfinders identified that as the staff moved along the learning curve, acceptance of the technology increased and fear of the technology decreased.

Stacy A. Marple is an IT management professional with 27 years of varied industry experience. She is a doctoral candidate with the University of Phoenix and maintains certifications in project management and IT best practices. Ms. Marple teaches project management professional (PMP) and MS Project courses for MircoTrain Technologies.

Environmental Technology

During this century, technology has its top place since people always try to seek for better technology support for their lives. Technology has been used to make the life of people become simpler and easier. Time, money and efforts have been devoted to invent new and higher level of technology. This technology enables people to do lots of outstanding achievement such as flying to the moon and discovering new star on the sky. However, there are two different opinions about technology. One side says that technology is the best tool to create simpler and easier lives while another side says that technology is harmful for the environment. In fact, those two different opinions are just to be true. Technology can be helpful but harmful at the other side.

As an answer of these two different opinions, there is a huge need of green technology or environmental technology. Green technology here means technology which is able to conserve natural environment and resources. Green technology makes people’s lives simpler and easier without providing harmful effect to the people and their surrounding environment. Green technology helps to reduce the effect of prior technology that has made the environment damaged or destructed. This technology repairs the damaged part of nature. Green technology also helps people to maintain and preserve the environment such as purifying water needed in rural areas. Moreover, green technology is also meaningful to absorb the chemical toxic in the air which results in better air for people.

Knowing the facts that green technology is very helpful for people’s life, individuals and companies have sought many ways to use this technology wisely. The problem about energy which is limited has always become the problem of every person in every year. Therefore, people now think that green technology [] will help people reducing the consumption of energy itself so that they can be economical on energy consumption. Most companies seek for this kind of technology in order to minimize the budget spent for technology and also to provide better working environment for the workers. This will help the company a lot to be sustainable in this global financial crisis. That is why the companies and individuals try to find best application that can reduce the energy consumption. The use of green technology is believed as the best and only way to overcome energy crisis lately. It is also provides simpler application. Now, it is your own choice whether you want to take the complex and difficult technology or green technology which is proven to be less energy consumption.

5 Easy Steps to Retaining Women to Trades, Science and Technology Classrooms

Step One: Bridge the Technology Divide

The reality is that overall women tend to have less experience with technology than their male counterparts, whether we are talking about computer technology or auto technology. Instructors who are successful in retaining female students recognize that they need to start with the basics during the beginning of the semester so that the less experienced students get the basic building blocks needed to be successful (this is helpful to male students missing those basics too). So that might mean an introduction to tool identification and use or the basics of navigating the Internet. Instructors should also provide open lab time for students in need of additional hands-on experience. If possible, staff the lab with a senior female student, women are often more comfortable asking questions of other women in a male-dominated field. For some best practice case study examples that illustrate these concepts look at the Cisco Gender Initiative’s Best Practice Case Studies developed by the Institute for Women in Trades, Technology and Science (IWITTS) (1).

Step Two: Collaborative Learning in the Technology Classroom

Many female students lack confidence in the classroom and this negatively impacts their learning ability. There are several reasons for this: first, overall, male students have more experience with technology, especially hands-on labs; second, male students tend to boast of their accomplishments while females tend to think that they are doing poorly even when they are doing well; third, male students tend to dominate in classroom discussions and lab activities.

Technology instructors can overcome these factors by using collaborative group methods in the classroom designed to increase student learning, interaction and support of each other. Some examples of these group methods are: 1) grade students in teams as well as individually; 2) put female students in positions of leadership in the classroom; 3) assign students to teams or pairs rather than leaving it up to them to pick their partners; 4) have female students work together in labs during the beginning of the semester; 5) enlist the help of whiz kids with the teaching of their fellow students, providing them with a constructive outlet for their talents.

Step Three: Contextual Learning

The recent adage that women are from Mars and men are from Venus is alive and well in the technology classroom — women and men have different learning styles when it comes to technology. Most men are excited by the technology itself — how fast it is, the number of gigabytes, the size of the engine. Most women are engaged by how the technology will be used — how quickly the network will run, how much information can be stored, how far the vehicle can go without refueling. These Mars and Venus differences have implications for the class curriculum: female students will better understand technical concepts in the classroom when they understand the context for them. Don’t front load your computer programming classes with writing computer code with no context for this if you want to retain most of your female students. For more information on this subject including off-the-shelf curriculums for teaching contextual technology read IWITTS’s Making Math and Technology Courses User Friendly to Women and Minorities: An Annotated Bibliography (2).

Step Four: The Math Factor

Most technology courses require an understanding of applied math. Many women and girls are fearful of math and have had negative experiences in the math classroom. This phenomenon is so common that courses and curriculum on math anxiety for women are in place around the country. The key to success in teaching most females math is — like technology — contextual and group learning. Fortunately many off-the-shelf curriculums exist for teaching math contextually, see IWITTS’s bibliography linked above. Many technology courses at the two-year college level have math prerequisites that are unrelated to the technology coursework and omit the applied math that will be needed. Technology courses should only require math that is relevant to their courses and/or develop contextual math modules to add to their curriculum.

Step Five: Connect the Women in Your Classes with Other Women

A female mentor or peer support network can help your students stay the course when they are feeling discouraged and can provide helpful tips for succeeding in a predominantly male environment. There are many on-line and real-time associations for women in technology, connect your female students to them. See the Career Links on for a list of some of these networks. Also, WomenTechTalk on — a free listserv for women in technology and students — provides a combination of support and expert career panels to it’s over 200 members from across the U.S.

Donna Milgram is founder and Executive Director of the National Institute for Women in Trades, Technology & Science (IWITTS). She is currently the Principal Investigator of the CalWomenTech Project, a $2 million National Science Foundation grant awarded in April 2006. She was also the Principal Investigator of the WomenTech Project, funded by the National Science Foundation, which had a goal of increasing the number of women enrolled and retained in technology education in three national community college demonstration sites. She led IWITTS’s partnership with the Cisco Learning Institute (CLI)/Cisco Gender Initiative. Ms. Milgram produced the interactive teacher training video “School-to-Work: Preparing Young Women for High Skill, High Wage Careers.” Ms. Milgram’s recent conference presentations include: the NSF ATE Conference “Recruiting Women to Science, Technology, Engineering & Math” (2004) and California Educating for Careers Conference in 2003.