6 Important Things to Assess Before Acquiring New Technology for Your Business
In general, investing in business technology is a good idea. Doing so can help to improve the efficiency of your workflow, the productivity of your employees, the quality of your products or services, and much more. However, there’s a lot of different technology out there — and new tech comes out every year. While some of this tech might be helpful, some of it may not be.
The last thing you’ll want to do is invest in new technology and spend time integrating it into your business operations only to find that it’s not effective at all. This just results in an enormous waste of time and money. To prevent this from happening, there are six factors you should be sure to consider before investing in new technology:
1. Why Does Your Company Need to Make the Purchase?
This might not be quite as obvious as it seems. Companies often make the mistake of trying to find a problem in order to justify the solution that a certain new technology provides instead of attempting to find a solution to an existing problem their company has.
For example, you may have stumbled on the technology by accident simply because the solution’s provider did a good job marketing it or because it’s gotten a lot of press. However, you shouldn’t rush into something that’s trending. Just because it’s the latest new technology to catch on within your industry doesn’t necessarily mean it will benefit your company.
When new technology is getting a lot of attention, it’s easy to let your decision become emotionally driven. You don’t want to miss out, after all — and if something is trending, it’s not difficult to fall into the trap of thinking it must be worth the investment. Take a step back and think about what this new technology will actually do for you before you decide that you need it.
The technology that’s worth your investment is the technology you found while searching for a solution to a current problem your company is having or a problem that you predict your company will have some time in the future.
2. How is the Technology Changing or Evolving?
When researching different technological solutions for whatever problem or need you’re trying to fulfill, it’s best to take a good hard look at how old the tech is and read up on similar solutions to determine whether the technology you’re investing in is currently evolving. The last thing you’ll want to do is make a major investment in outdated technology.
Will it Need to be Updated or Replaced in the Near Future?
If you do your research properly, you should be able to find out how old the tech is. The older it is, the more likely it is that it will soon be replaced by a newer version. Some solutions, especially certain types of software solutions, are replaced or updated on a regular basis. If this is the case, make sure to consider the potential cost of updating or replacing the software as well as the time and effort necessary to perform the update or to integrate new software.
Will Changes in the Tech Impose Limitations on Your Company?
Some providers will completely revamp their software or hardware to address what they think are more pressing needs or challenges within the industry, or simply to target a different audience. You’ll want to look into what the provider’s goals are and whether they are planning to make drastic changes to their software or hardware that could limit what you are trying to use it for in the first place.
A good example of this is the film editing software Final Cut Pro. At one point, it was considered one of the top professional editing software programs on the market; only Avid was considered superior in terms of features and capabilities, although Final Cut Pro was much more affordable.
However, Apple made a drastic change after their popular Final Cut Pro 7 came out, opting to make their software more user-friendly. As a result, the next version, Final Cut Pro X, lost many of the editing features and capabilities in an effort to streamline workflow and simplify the interface. Although easier to use, the new version severely limited what could be done during the post-production process, leading many production houses to switch to a different provider.
3. Who Will Use It and What Will it Cost to Hire or Train Employees?
When budgeting for new technology, don’t forget to look past the initial costs of the hardware or software you’re purchasing. Consider the cost of implementing the technology and integrating it into your business operations as well. For example, if you’ve invested in a cloud server, who will help you migrate to the cloud? If you’re setting up a private cloud server for your business, you will need to pay someone to set it up for you and to make sure it’s running smoothly.
Additionally, your employees will also need to be trained to use the new technology. In some cases, this may not be so difficult. For example, a new software package may only require your employees to take a few hours of their time to go through a built-in tutorial. But for more advanced technology, your employees may need to be more thoroughly trained. In fact, ongoing training may be required depending on how complicated the new tech is and whether you expect it to be updated on a regular basis.
As you can imagine, such training will not only require the time and attention of your employees (temporarily taking away focus from their normal day-to-day tasks at your company), but it may also cost you money to have them trained unless the technology’s provider offers onboarding as a service included in the cost of their technology.
4. What Potential Problems Could Arise?
Just because a technology solution appears to be beneficial to your business doesn’t mean there may not be potential drawbacks as a result of its adoption. For example, if the hardware you’re investing in isn’t scalable, it could present a serious challenge if your business begins to rapidly expand in the future.
Another common issue businesses often face with new technology is it can’t be integrated with their existing tech. For example, if you invest in new analytical software but it doesn’t integrate with your current email marketing software, it could end up hurting the efficiency of your workflow instead of helping it.
Keep this in mind when doing your research, and look into any known issues the technology has, in addition to the level of support the provider offers to its customers.
Are There Any Known Issues with the Technology?
A software solution that should improve efficiency tenfold may seem like a no-brainer on the surface, but if it’s riddled with bugs, it could end up hurting your efficiency instead. It’s why you should always read both professional reviews and customer reviews when researching new technology. If you see reviews complaining about common problems or mentioning the need to constantly download patches to deal with software issues, you should be wary. The same goes for any hardware you invest in.
Even if there are no known issues — or major issues — that have occurred with the hardware tech you’re looking at, look into the parts that are used in the hardware. Some hardware tech consists of parts that are easy to replace if anything goes wrong, but if hardware replacements are difficult to obtain and/or expensive to replace, you will want to take that into account.
What Kind of Support Will You Need?
The best tech solution providers will offer full support services, whether you need help training your employees or help troubleshooting issues you’re having using the tech. Look into the provider’s customer support reputation and whether there are any recurring costs associated with their support. If you have to pay for support, make sure their service is extensive. You should expect easy access to their helpdesk and instant assistance at all hours if you are paying for their support services.
5. How Long Has the Technology Been Around?
While you’ll want to be careful about investing in tech that’s old since there could be newer versions of that tech on the horizon, you should also be careful about implementing tech that’s too new.
Are You a Guinea Pig?
New tech may still have some kinks in it that haven’t been smoothed out yet. Don’t be surprised to run into issues while using brand new tech if you’re an early adopter. In fact, this is often how providers improve their product, by discovering any issues with it through its use by early adopters. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your tech is going to be riddled with problems, but it’s important to understand that there is some risk involved with being an early adopter of a brand new technology.
Will it Live Up to the Hype?
New technology is often hyped up to the point where the possibilities seem endless and the potential drawbacks seem minimal. This is often because brand new tech hasn’t been widely adopted yet, which means its shortcomings aren’t apparent yet. When implementing brand new tech solutions, make sure to consider what it actually promises to do for your business, whether you think it can realistically deliver, and whether its performance and results will be sustainable.
6. What are the Alternatives?
Always look into alternative solutions that can solve the same problems as the tech you’re looking into. You may be surprised to find a much more affordable solution that does exactly the same thing. However, in some cases, more affordable versions may be available but come with fewer features. You’ll want to compare the initial cost of integrating these solutions with the value that they will offer down the line. You may find that the more expensive option will save you more money in the long run just because of its features or capabilities.
Make an Informed Decision Before Purchasing and Implementing New Technology
Although your business should make it a point to invest in new technology to improve business operations and customer services (and to stay competitive within your industry), it’s extremely important that your decision to buy new tech is an informed one. New tech can be expensive and it may not always be beneficial, especially if it’s riddled with issues, is difficult to integrate and isn’t backed by strong customer support by the provider. Do your research, compare direct and indirect costs, and compare multiple solutions before investing in new tech.