Businesses should not invest in technology for the sake of doing so. The current state of things is that we too often jump to the conclusion that an existing business situation not leveraging technology can be ameliorated by the introduction of it. So, thus, the question becomes “What is a worthwhile technology investment?”.
In this two-part series, we’ll go over legitimate reasons why your business should invest in technology as well as reasons to steer away from it.
When to say “yes”
We are certainly biased in that the more often a business chooses to say “yes” to technology, the more often are we likely to get a project. However, it has occurred to us countless times that when we receive a request for a potential project the underlying reasons are simply not sound enough for a technology investment, in those cases we advise the potential client of our reservations and either recommend alternatives or refer them to other partners that could help them achieve their vision.
Below you can find some reasons that we believe are worthwhile when looking to invest into technology.
The biggest reason for legitimate technology investment and the one we tend to see most often with our clients is one regarding the scaling of operations. As an organization grows there comes a point where the amount of work outgrows the capacity of the current team and hiring additional team members isn’t worthwhile at the moment. The main activities around that organizations’ primary value proposition may become facilitated with the use of technology, or perhaps if no such opportunity is at hand for the core of the business, the organization can opt to leverage technology to facilitate the “work around the work”.
Another strong reason for a technology investment, albeit one that does require some time spent doing an assessment of said reason, is when a business sees an opportunity to improve their value proposition delivery through an enhancement that can be brought about by technology. There are many items that can fall under the category of “enhancement” but here are a few that we’ve often seen.
Whereas, in the past search often required a major investment that at a minimum required a 6-figure budget, advances in technology, specifically open-source components, has given companies the ability to deliver on the promises of search at a lower budget. This kind of enhancement usually manifests itself as a knowledge problem, ie: a company needs to check a set of separate pages to stay abreast of relevant information, in some cases, there is a possibility that the data can be indexed into a search engine for the company to leverage one source of aggregated information instead of multiple different places.
When a business begins to adopt more and more technology into the fabric of how it runs operations, there often comes a time when business leaders begin to see the business advantages that could come from integrating or connecting data between disparate sources. This type of work can take many forms, one of the most common being the connection of data between two systems using both applications’ respective Application Programming Interfaces (API). Another avenue by which this can be done is by creating a data warehouse, which can be defined as a large data store that contains cleaned data from multiple different systems using the same data format.
One use-case of this type of work can come in the form of creating a search engine aimed at customer service representatives (CSRs). This search engine would index the different software systems that contain user data, and present that data to a CSR in an easy to use single interface.
In some cases, especially in more settled industries, there is a severe lack of technology use when it comes to organizational practices. Whether it be for task tracking, HR management, recruitment, or communication. Often times, businesses can benefit from simple technology investments such as investing in a task management system such as Trello, Wrike, Asana, or JIRA (usually used for more complex task tracking) in order to help them track their teams’ deliverables.
Beware though, if you have a process for the things above that works well, is accepted by everyone at your company, and doesn’t slow you down significantly, it’s often better to not fix what isn’t broken.
A technology investment in order to increase your collaboration capabilities is also one that can pay dividends, especially in the long-term. Working diligently at initiatives such as building a knowledge base can yield powerful results for your team as institutional knowledge becomes widely available.
Creating team, or community portals, can also yield massive returns, especially if you are seeking to create a better sense of culture or brand with stakeholders.
Honorable Mention: Marketing
The most common technology investment is one that is centered around marketing, ie: a website. However, we haven’t listed this as a primary technology investment as this has become a commoditized enough technology that the real lifting is now happening in the content creation and online brand recognition aspects of the work.
Creating a website has become commoditized due to the sheer amount of platforms and off-the-shelf solutions that are available at low costs. WordPress, WordPress Themes, Wix, and Squarespace as well as other technology providers have rendered the work around creating websites simple for the majority of use cases.
There is still the case of enterprise websites, where a technology investment makes sense, software like Sitecore can be useful for large enterprises that have big website needs.
The reasons above cover the majority of technology investments most companies will ever do or need to do. They are never a sure bet, for technology is only one of many different factors around the success of a business, but such investments, with the proper guidance and
Join us next time for the next part of this series where we will cover top reasons to say “no” to tech.