To start – let us set clear criteria for what makes technology outdated. There is almost no situation in which there is not a brand-new piece of tech that offers some value to your organization, but that’s not what you should be focusing on. There are basic criteria for functionality and efficacy that you need to consider when looking at your organization. In fact - most organizations struggle to honestly evaluate their own technology out of fear of what they might find. Before we dive into why you need to make tech updates a priority – let’s establish baselines for what makes technology effective in the first place.
The first, and most critical point of evaluation, is your technology's performance. Start by asking a simple question - Does it work? But what does working even mean? We’re kidding – “working” is a fairly well articulated concept. If your technology does what you expect it to, how you expect it to, reliably – your technology is working as expected.
Is it crashing? Are there components dragging your whole technology stack down, or are making it increasingly incompatible with your other systems?
These are clear indicators that it is not. Be honest in your evaluation – if you can “make it work” that often means that you’re outside of the intended use-cases of your technology and that it isn’t built for your needs.
The next thing you need to evaluate is your technologies usability. Is it optimized for mobile? Judging by the number of emails appended “sent by Outlook on iOS”, more and more people are working from their phones. Mobile compatibility improves productivity, by providing a consistent experience across all platforms and devices.
Technology that doesn't work is universally frustrating.
Do your users mutter under their breath every time that use components of your organization’s technology? This is one of the clearest indicators that your existing solutions are out of sync with your workflow, have overly complex interfaces, or both. Your tech should be intuitive and synced to your processes, not require days to sort through documentation and knowledge bases to get the job done.
At fivestar*, we’re passionate about great UX. Form follows function, so we’re of the mindset that usefulness needs to be priority number one. You can use our UX scorecard to evaluate usability of your systems.
Your technology needs to work together as an integrated system for you to maximize efficiency. So ask yourself the question - does your technology work with your other systems? From ERPs to CRMs, tech is most impactful when integrated with all available data sources If not, you’re leaving value on the table. If your existing technology is limiting your ability to integrate, it may be time to consider an evaluation. Additionally, if you are experiencing business conditions that are impacting how you work (rapid growth, changing customer requirements) it would be worthwhile to evaluate your technology’s ability to scale and shift accordingly.
That’s not always easy with legacy systems. Growth often helps identify and magnify existing problems. The value your technology provides should not be limited to your current use cases – good technology is built and implemented with your growth in mind.
Many organizations think they are an enhancement or a training session away from their technology working the way they need it to - we have found that’s not always the case. The increased pace of change in your business necessitates a technology strategy that can keep up.
If you have proprietary tech and practices that give you a competitive advantage, this does not mean you should abandon them. On the contrary, doubling down on that competitive advantage with sustainable technology stands to provide an even bigger boost to your business. The value of technology is to support your core business functions – to help you do what you do, better.
Does your technology do that? Consider how your own technology stacks up based on the above criteria and make an honest assessment. Most organizations can benefit from updating technology to better serve current use cases or putting in place a plan to address future ones.
The opportunity cost in upgrading outdated and ineffective technology can be seen in gains in efficiency, increased customer and employee satisfaction, and reduction in risk, to name a few. From streamlining the way, you acquire new business to automating time-consuming, repetitive tasks, technology is transforming business practices across all industries. If you are not maximizing the value of your tech – you’re already behind.
First things first – take an honest look at your current technology and evaluate it based on the criteria we identified at the beginning of this blog. If you’re struggling to get started, fivestar* has decades of experience helping businesses overcome technology problems – we can help you put together a technology plan built with your future in mind. Let's chat.