Regardless of how resourceful you are in running your business, the time will come when investing in certain technological tools will become necessary to achieve and maintain a competitive edge. Being that integrating such technologies into a business can involve a fair amount of capital, here are 5 questions business owners should ask before spending hard earned dollars on technology.
Is it necessary?
Although this may sound like budget basics 101, before purchasing any type of technological tool which will hopefully help you build your business, the most important question should be: “Is it really necessary?” In other words, is it something you feel you need to have simply because your competitors have it? Or does the technology you’re considering solve a problem that will greatly benefit your company’s overall efficiency and productivity?
Is it affordable?
Once you’ve honed in on a particular piece of hardware, software or system you’d like to purchase, the next big question is, “Will it provide a solid return on investment?” If you’re like most small business owners, you need to be fairly selective in terms of how you spend what resources you have to build your business. A careful cost/benefit analysis will help you recognize if the technology you’re considering will give you more value than other less technical tools or strategies that might constitute a better use of your funds.
Is it easy to integrate?
Regardless of how promising a particular piece of technology may be in furthering your business goals, the important question here is, “How quickly can we get it up and running?” If you buy into technology that comes with a substantial learning curve, the extra time demands on you and your staff required to fully take advantage of its capabilities may actually cause a decrease in productivity in other more crucial areas of business operations, possibly resulting in decreased revenue. This is especially critical if your ability to provide quality service to new and existing customers is affected by the added time demands of integrating the new technology.
Is it overkill?
While continual technological advances create both real perceived needs to constantly keep up, caution should be used to make sure that the technology you’re considering does not exceed your current and anticipated needs. Although the foundation of marketing technology is based on the perception of old product obsolescence due to new product superiority, the reality is that, for the most part, “new and improved” is more about minor tweaks in design than paradigm changing capabilities.
Will technology help you achieve core objectives?
You didn’t start your business on a whim. You saw a need for a product or service and you painstakingly created a business plan to fill that need while adhering to fundamental objectives. Hopefully, many of these objectives were centered on the most critical aspect of being competitive, namely taking care of the customer. Although the proper usage of technology can clearly assist you in better meeting the needs of your customers, technology utilized for technologies sake, such as complicated phone systems, automated e-mails, and other services that can isolate customers from the kinds of interactions that make them feel valued, should be avoided. No amount of technology can or should become a substitute for genuine human interaction. Otherwise, the costs of doing business could potentially cost you your business.
About the Author: Carla Sanchez is a freelance writer for Omniture. Omniture is the world leader at online conversion and website testing. Software that enables you to better understand your customers and increase your sales.