We live in exciting time. It seems like every day a new device or application is launched that has the potential to change our lives and the way we do business. Unfortunately, most small businesses do not have the means to buy every single new innovation so they need to be pragmatic on where and why they invest in technology.
With innovation happening faster than ever before there is a strong temptation for SMBs to purchase the newest technology immediately without stopping to think how it will help them achieve their business goals.
The message for small businesses is a simple one: do not buy technology for technology’s sake.
SMBs really need to ask themselves these three questions when looking at purchasing technology:
- By making this investment, will I be improving the efficiency of my employees
- If I purchase this technology will that increase customer satisfaction
- Will my operating costs be reduced by this investment in technology
If the business owner/decision maker cannot answer yes to at least one of these questions, there needs to be a reconsideration of the purchasing decision. That’s not to say technology can’t serve a wider strategic purpose. But it does need a harder think.
So you’ve identified that yes, that new telephony system you are looking deploy will in fact satisfy one or more of the criteria above. Now what?
Businesses should also explore new ways of acquiring technology. Gone are the days when technology purchases followed a fairly rigid cycle: Major capital outlay, followed by depreciations and then a refresh. Small businesses should really be exploring alternative methods, such as purchasing technology ‘as-a-service’. Instead of buying technology and managing it as an asset, they can lease them and pay-per-use. This puts the risk back onto the vendor. If the phones aren’t running hot, you will pay less.
The next crucial thing is to ensure that you are getting the most out of the technology. When you met with your technology partner and/or supplier they would have shown you the full range of functionality that the product provides. It’s probably part of the reason you made the decision to buy in the first place.
What is truly important is that you are working with your supplier to get your employees completely trained up on everything the new technology offers. If you aren’t fostering the partnership in training there is a risk that your staff will not be using the new technology to its potential and a number of things could happen:
- You could be met with resistance – “But my old phone worked just fine, why are we changing”. Without the necessary coaching, employees will become a barrier to the improvement in efficiency that the purchasing decision was made for, they may not embrace the technology and you might be left with the burden of equipment that is not being used
- Your staff will use the new technology, but will not take advantage of the new ways of working that it was supposed to encourage, i.e they continue to work the way they used to. Again, this is a real risk to your business as tools that are under-consumed and under-utilised become a waste of time and waste of money
The purpose of this post isn’t to be negative about technology. Technology is great but SMBs should deploy technology that helps them achieve their business goals, not just makes them fit in with the preverbial ‘cool kids’.
About the author:
Chris Downes is Channel Sales Director at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE), responsible for creating and running ALE’s channel strategy for its communications and network infrastructure solutions in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific region. Chris is a business management professional with over 20 years of experience in the telecommunications and ICT industry. Prior to joining Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise in 2008, Chris spent 10 years with Verizon in a variety of roles including Sales Manager, Carrier and Wholesale for Australia and New Zealand.