In an uncertain economy, many businesses are reluctant to make investments in their technology infrastructure. This is an understandable reaction to today’s business environment, although statistically many businesses do have the cash flow. Our caution would be to keep in mind that if you are running your business the same way you were a few years ago, you are not standing still, you are falling behind. Rapid enhancements to technology ensure this. New competition and even your existing competition may be investing in technologies that are providing competitive advantages. It is very possible that this is the time to invest in technologies that can help your business retain its edge.
When we talk about investing in technology, we are not talking about investing for the sake of investing. We are talking about investing in items that bring a return on that investment e.g. new tools that can help close more sales. Take the time to evaluate your business and determine what the impediments to success are. Use this top-down approach to then indentify the systems and technology infrastructure that support those systems. Perhaps an improved CRM system would help your business capture more business opportunities. Perhaps look to find a lower cost ERP system that may have equal functionality and better long-term growth potential. After selecting the system, the technology can be reviewed. This step requires the cooperation of both your Chief Operating Officer and your Chief Technology Officer. Evaluate cloud based solutions, virtual computing solution, or Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions to see if any of these provide a better long-term price point or added value for your business. Always bear in mind that the technology is secondary to the business function it supports, but the technology can indeed add or subtract to the overall productivity significantly.
Technology can also be used to help reduce costs, not just increase revenue as with the previous examples. Virtual technology is a great example of this. Why operate two or three different physical servers when you can combine the functions of these three into one physical box running separate virtual computers? The hardware costs are less, the energy costs are less and the ongoing maintenance costs are less. Investing in this type of upgrade can result in reduction in long-term costs for a business.
As a final thought, when considering your budget for 2012, keep in mind that older hardware will fail more often. That is a mechanical fact. At Colden Company Inc., we always remind customers that it is not “if” a hard drive will fail, it is “when”. They are just mechanical devices that will eventually stop working, just like a car. We understand that there are upfront costs involved in making your IT infrastructure more stable and efficient, but there are also increased costs with maintaining an aging infrastructure both in terms of equipment repair and lost productivity. As your organization begins building the 2012 budget, look to invest in the types of technologies that will help reduce long-term costs or increase long-term revenues. These actions will help keep your business competitive in an uncertain economy. Are you busy preparing for the future or in “maintain” mode? Here are two thoughts to leave you with: 1) Failure to plan is planning to fail. 2) Remember, if you are running your business the same way it was a few years ago, you are falling behind your competition.