Your company can only grow as much as your technology allows. Fail to invest in the right tools, and you might watch helplessly as others take advantage of opportunities you were unable to pursue.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking this is an issue for your IT department. Digital transformation is everyone’s business. The people leading your company don’t just need to know how new technologies work. They also need to know how implementing those technologies would affect your operations and position in the market.
Watch for these signs within your company to decide whether you need an upgrade:
1. Your customer experience doesn’t compare.
Customer expectations climb higher every year. Businesses must rise to that challenge or lose ground as competitors provide the intuitive, seamless experiences consumers crave.
“When your technology continues to be the impediment of driving business value, changes need to be made,” says Vince Perfetti, Chief Transformation Officer at Nu Skin. “Technology is continually evolving and requires organizations to value workforces and tools that have an appetite for learning and growth.”
You don’t have to lead the industry in tech-driven customer experiences. Keep pace with baseline expectations for service, personalization, and ease of use, and customers will give you the opportunity to earn their business.
2. You’re too open to cybersecurity risks.
No one’s ever completely safe from cyberthreats. But the longer you go without upgrading your systems, the more precarious your position becomes. PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 88 percent of consumers base their decision to share personal information on whether they trust the company. Eighty-seven percent will leave for a competitor if they believe a company doesn’t handle their personal information responsibly.
Even if you don’t keep personally identifying information, older tools sometimes leave traces of data that hackers can exploit. Your vendors, too, may use outdated systems that expose your customers to potential breaches. If a partner suffers a breach, consumers will blame the brand they know best — yours — not the technology provider. Stay ahead of danger by keeping your systems updated and working with partners who take information security seriously.
3. You use workarounds to keep operating.
This should be an obvious sign that your company desperately needs an upgrade. Sometimes, your processes may need to change before your technology can. In many cases, though, outdated technologies force you to make concessions and take extra steps to achieve the results you want.
“When you need results quickly, the path you take — and the issues you encounter along the way — are not as important as getting to those results,” says Kristine Maphis, senior process consultant at the University of Maryland. “Thus, while a workaround is beneficial to attaining a solution, it masks issues and can create messy processes. Workarounds can also quickly go from being a temporary fix for an emerging problem to being the unofficial new business process.”
If a new vendor or tool could eliminate a daily workaround, don’t wait until your process fails to upgrade. Try a few demos to find out what you’ve been missing.
4. Your IT teams spend all their time putting out fires.
Your technology teams will always be your first line of defense against immediate breakdowns. But when every IT staffer spends every day wading through emergency tickets, something needs to change. Computer Economics reports that IT spending jumped from 2.3 percent of revenue in 2018 to 2.7 percent in 2019. That suggests that more companies have realized the value of technology investments over simple maintenance costs.
Talk to your IT leaders and team members to get a feel for how much time they spend on maintenance versus new projects. If the answers skew too far toward maintenance, begin researching technology options that could ease the burden on your IT teams.
Involve the entire leadership team in this process. Your IT experts know how your options will integrate with your existing systems and can explain the advantages of adding new tools. The rest of your leaders should take this opportunity to consider the needs of their own departments and how they could benefit from better technology. Find a solution that will help your IT teams spend more time on proactive work and lift everyone else in the process.
Even if you upgraded your systems a few years ago, don’t assume you’re safe from the advancement of business tech. Just five years ago, AI options were almost nonexistent and none of your customers used voice search. Today, machine learning powers all sorts of business tools and smart home devices have made voice search common. Evaluate your existing infrastructure, and watch for the warning signs to determine whether it’s time to upgrade.