Lots of business leaders are more than willing to invest in technology. They just want to get the outcomes that are promised in return. Is that too much to ask? Previous experiences with technology investments that didn’t meet expectations would make anyone cautious about going down a road to nowhere a second time. But the truth is that there’s a right way and a wrong way to invest in technology and it depends on IT strategy.
IT strategy is simply the process of IT planning that enables an organization to use technology to improve operations and support their goals.
Here at XPERTECHS, IT strategy is so important that we provide each client company with the services of a vCIO to collaborate with them to create their unique IT strategy. Once we start working together to create and implement their strategy, executives can see the connection between technology improvement and business improvement, and they view us more like a partner rather than just a vendor.
Related: What’s a vCIO and Why Do I Need One?
As we paint a picture of what good and bad technology investment looks like in this article, see where you fit in. Build on the positives and recognize the areas where you fall short. If you’re not sure if you’re doing these things, use the points in this article to spark conversations with your IT team.
Make sure you read all the way to the end to get three technology investment quick wins!
What the Wrong Way Looks Like
1. Chasing the Shiny New Object
When there is no IT strategy to steer you in the right direction, it’s too easy to get attracted to whatever is considered the latest and greatest. Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s the best route to go. Even if it does look like it’s just what you need, there are so many other factors to consider that will affect the outcome that you’ll ultimately receive.
2. Waiting Too Late to Invest
On the other end of the spectrum, waiting too long to invest in technology can be just as bad as charging full steam ahead. It’s not a best practice to use hardware until it dies. It might seem like you’re saving money, but when hardware ages it typically declines in performance too. Money saved to not upgrade hardware is actually money spent on employee time when they’re spinning their wheels, or worse, stopped because their technology doesn’t work. Multiply that effect throughout your workforce if it’s a piece of network hardware.
3. Underutilizing Existing Technology
If your existing technology has capabilities that you could be using but you’re not, then that’s a wrong way to invest in technology because it can lead to doubling up your spending on services. For example, Microsoft 365 licensing includes security features like Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) that could be turned on or off. If your IT team aren’t experts in Microsoft 365, they might not know how to fully utilize all of its features which leads us to our next factor that leads to wrong way investments.
4. Inadequate Investment in IT Support
It used to be that small companies had simple IT support requirements and one or a few people could do everything that needed to be done. These days even small businesses can have sophisticated IT needs and that means they need access to a deeper pool of IT expertise. Continuing to rely on internal IT, or even a small outsourced IT support team, results in gaps that can hold back progress in both IT and overall business success.
5. Underestimating the Value of Cybersecurity
Whatever you did for cybersecurity five years ago is outdated today. As cybercriminal tactics have evolved, so have the cybersecurity tools that are needed to counteract them. You might be a small business but your data and IT systems are targets for cyber criminals and the advanced level of security you need today requires a bigger investment. (Don’t believe it? Just try to apply for cyber insurance!)
What the Right Way Looks Like
1. Thorough Vetting of New Technologies
Your competitiveness can indeed rely on how innovative you are with technology, but it needs to be the right technology. When introduced to new tech solutions a vCIO will help you look at your current tech stack and your future plans to help you decide if you should pursue it. They’ll also think of things that you wouldn’t necessarily think of, like how compatible the new technology is with your network.
2. Plan and Budget for Technology Improvements
It’s a much better experience to plan and budget for technology improvements rather than wait and have big surprise bills. When you plan, you can take the time to evaluate options. When you’re faced with a failure, you have to move fast and may not have the luxury of having choices. Planning helps you avoid technology failures which often have a ripple effect out to your customers and employees and can ultimately have an effect on your ability to sustain your business.
3. Fully Utilize Existing Technology
It’s good to have some redundancies – like with your internet service – but you don’t need to double up on every IT service and tool. Your ability to fully utilize all of your technology is dependent on the expertise of your IT team. One caveat to this, is that just because you have a capability doesn’t mean it’s the one you should use. For example, using the marketing module in your line-of-business software might in fact hold back your marketing team, instead of enable them when they need more specialized tools.
4. Outsource to Get a High Level of IT Expertise
If you’re serious about getting all the value you can from your technology, then you’ve got to have access to every IT specialty. The only way to get comprehensive IT department services (including a vCIO) is through outsourcing managed IT services. If you’ve never gone that route before you may have some sticker shock at the monthly fee, but when you take into account the value that you’re getting, managed IT very well might be the most cost-effective way to resource the IT function of your business.
5. Quickly Ramp Up Cybersecurity by Outsourcing
There are some parts of your IT improvement plan that you can improve incrementally, but cybersecurity isn’t one of them. If your security is insufficient, you’re posing bigger risks on your organization than you realize, especially when you understand that the impact of a cyber attack can be business failure. The only way to quickly ramp up security is by outsourcing.
BONUS – 3 Quick Wins
Depending on where you are in your IT maturity and whether or not you have access to a vCIO, it could take some time before you can get started with creating your IT strategy. Here are three areas of investment that can have an immediate impact on your business.
1. Update Hardware
Start upgrading your laptops and workstations today. If your people have been working on ancient machines, they’ll really notice the difference. Equipping your people with good technology tools contributes to employee satisfaction and retention, which ripples out to customer satisfaction too.
2. Turn on Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)
Turn on MFA wherever you can… today. Cyber criminals are trying to get access to your employees’ corporate and online accounts so they can sneak into your IT systems or gather the information they need to make a bigger hit. MFA is built into many applications so find out where you have it and start using it.
3. Start Cybersecurity Awareness Training
All of the cybersecurity tech in the world isn’t going to do any good if an employee does something to inadvertently let a cyber criminal past your defenses. Train your people how to recognize and respond to potential cyber attacks. Ongoing training is a small investment that can pay big by preventing cyber attacks.
Are You Willing to Invest in IT Strategy?
The right way to invest in technology actually begins with mindset. You have to be willing to put in the time and thought necessary to go through the planning process and then allocate the funds needed to execute your strategy. This is a lot easier to do when you have an IT partner standing beside you to help you with both the planning and implementation.
Up Your IT Game with XPERTECHS
That’s where XPERTECHS comes in. Through our XperCARE framework, our clients get better business results from technical strength and strategy. If that’s not what you’re getting from your IT support company, it’s time to up your game.
Contact us for an IT and Cybersecurity consultation.