Five Most Common Technology Mistakes

1. The lack of internal technology master planning

Defining the technology goals for a new facility is one of the first areas that need to be considered. This speaks directly to the design and functionality of the new space. The project owner must be a part of this process. Furthermore, they must involve key people at the right time. By defining the technology, you are developing a blue print for how the new facility will be used. The information learned during this process will provide the architect with a more complete perspective and eliminate plan revisions.  


The project owner has decided that theatrical lights will be used in the new facility because dance and drama will be a large part of the performance venue. He also wants to be able to video record performances, which will require back lighting as well. This is a typical scenario but take a look at how it will influence the building design:

  • The size of the stage needs to be able to accommodate dance and drama
  • To minimize the noise floor, stage materials must be considered
  • The technical booth needs to be large enough to accommodate multiple operators
  • The technical booth must be positioned to allow optimal line of sight and sound
  • Cameras will need to be introduced into the space
  • Integrated house and theatrical lighting control becomes critical
  • Electrical load requirements must be determined for the theatrical lights
  • Additional infrastructure must be provided for all integrated systems

This is just one slice of the decisions to be made and a look at how those decisions will affect the project.. 

In many cases the technology is not considered until after the initial design of the building is completed. In some cases, the owner has not conferred with any technical staff. They assume that the technology systems are an addition to the building and can be designed and installed after the fact. 

What they fail to realize is technology systems are an integral part of the facility just like other mechanical and electrical systems. If the goals, in the above example, were not conveyed to the architect/designer prior to the completion of his design, revisions would be required and additional costs incurred.  

2. Not hiring a technology firm at the right time

The first mistake we discussed dealt with internal technology planning. Mistake number two deals with hiring the right people to help achieve and solidify those goals.

The job of the technology firm is to help the project/facility owner further define and perhaps expand the technology goals, show them what is possible and how to get there. This is a cumulative process where the technology needs and wants are defined first by the owner and then refined by the technology firm. 

At this point the technology firm, on the owner’s behalf, will work with the architect/designer and make sure all infrastructure and technology elements are incorporated into the design. 

3. Inadequate budget

As stated previously, technology systems are an integral part of the facility just like other mechanical and electrical systems. The national average for multimedia systems is 12% to 15% of the overall project budget. 

If you have somehow avoided mistakes one and two, you have defined and refined the technology needs for the new facility. Knowing how much they cost is critical information that you must have and, and in turn must share with your architect/designer. 

This is another area where a technology firm can provide invaluable information. Technology systems define the function and use of the space. If the budget is inadequate, the desired goals will never be realized.

4. Lack of vision for future growth

If you have avoided the first three pitfalls, this should be a non-issue. A good technology firm will always make you think ahead but it is still important to be able to articulate your future plans. Where do you want to be in 5, 10 or 20 years? What are the emerging technologies that can be implemented? Are you building in the infrastructure for the future? 

5. Not hiring the right technology firm

A technology firm should provide the following design/build services:

  • Performance audio/visual systems
  • Acoustical design and treatment
  • Theatrical lighting
  • Staging/theatrical curtain rigging
  • Broadcast/recording systems
  • Facility networking
  • Technical system project management
  • CCTV systems

Choose a firm that is well versed in all of the professional and construction trades as well as all presentation and performance technologies. 

Firms that stay abreast of the most current systems and technological advances available can help you understand what is possible. Equally important, firms that are not limited to a handful of products can provide the proper component for every application. This assures the owner that his very specific needs are being met with the best possible gear.

Choosing the best technology firm is no different that choosing the best architect, general contractor or other trades. The quality of their work and dedication to excellence is directly related to you achieving your goals for your new facility.   

The bottom line

The project owner should have a good idea of the goals for the new facility. Through initial proper planning and inclusion of a qualified technology firm in the very beginning, they can acquire all the information needed to make the best decisions.  By planning early, they will be able to achieve their technology goals now and for the future.