Technology offers businesses a host of well-documented advantages and opportunities, from increased efficiency to improved communication to reduced costs. As new technologies become more affordable, these benefits become accessible to a wider range of companies, not just Fortune 500 corporations. In fact, research firm Gartner predicts businesses around the globe will spend more than $3.7 trillion on IT infrastructure in 2013 alone. That’s a 4.2 percent increase over 2012.
But before companies dive into their coffers to purchase the latest and greatest platform, it is important to create a game plan. Evaluate what business function requires improvement and why: Perhaps to provide better service to customers, increase market share, reduce business-related travel or improve operations efficiencies.
Whatever the reason behind the need for technology enhancements, these investment decisions should be based on a thorough understanding of three key elements: 1) organizational structure; 2) end-user needs; 3) maintenance and support.
Consider organizational structure
Office size and location matters, and an honest analysis of organizational structure and processes can help identify the best technological solution. For example, a company may need to support new sales operations abroad, but also reduce business-related travel expenses. Today, the latest-generation systems are incorporating large, easy-to-use, video-capable touch tablets that can be employed to connect and collaborate with colleagues and customers around the world, enabling businesses to realize long-expected benefits of reduced expenses and
A smaller firm, perhaps in construction or design industries, may seek tools that offer improved collaboration. Instead of relying on file-sharing via individual computers, these companies can now develop the blueprints or prototypes in the same room on the same device, ensuring timely feedback and additional opportunities for client interaction.
Evaluate end-user needs
Involve end-users early in the process. It is important to understand how new equipment will impact key players. Consider organizing a focus group to evaluate a piece of technology. Employees appreciate the opportunity to share feedback and experiment with new platforms that may impact their daily activities. In addition, evaluating the need for new technologies via an open forum will ensure internal enthusiasm and create advocates who can speak to the benefits of new technologies, in turn creating a high rate of employee adoption and a high return on investment.
Select a reliable partner
While it may appear to be more expensive to hire an outside vendor to implement new technologies, companies often realize significant cost savings by creating partnerships with trusted and responsive service pros. The benefits are two-fold: internal IT partners can remain focused on other business-critical activities while simultaneously gaining access to new best practices and methodologies. When evaluating a potential vendor, request references and case studies, as well as metrics on customer service and support which should include 24/7 availability and a main point of contact to address maintenance issues and user questions.
When considering technological improvements, these three elements will ensure your business goals are met – whether it’s running faster, smoother or leaner.
Will Nabors is vice president of operations for InFocus Corp, a global leader in digital display devices and visual collaboration technology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.