Vet the Tech: 9 Steps to Steer You Towards the Right Trends
Being an early adopter has its benefits. However, pioneering tech trends for the sake of being trendy is a waste of resources.
For SMBs in particular, the requirement to spend and scale strategically is a delicate balancing act. But what if you could shift your mindset slightly and instead of choosing the next big thing, you chose the next right thing?
With a bit of foresight and a strong sense of discernment, you can create a plan of action to acquire that next right tech investment.
Creating a Short-Term Action Plan for Long-term Growth
Implementing technology in the short term can undoubtedly accelerate an SMB’s growth over the long term. The key is to invest in platforms and solutions that address your present-day needs while supporting your grand vision.
Plotting these pit stops on your plan of action can help you narrow your list of workable options:
- Diversify your research. Reviewing product features online has its benefits, but keep in mind that much of what you’ll find amounts to nothing more than marketing. To get a different perspective, ask your employees to share from their own lived experience. What tools or features have made their jobs better? Which were a waste of time? When in doubt, stick to peer-reviewed whitepapers or journals.
- Collaborate on decision-making. Unilaterally deciding what’s best for everyone without getting their input can be short sighted. Soliciting stakeholders who know your company culture and long-term goals helps you more accurately identify potential benefits and challenges. The more vantage points you consider, the more assured you can be in your final decision.
- Organize your options. Analyzing the matrix of product features, pricing, and customer reviews for every option available is a big job. It helps to approach that analysis in an organized way. Plan to collect only the data that’s most important for the issue at hand. Consider using a spreadsheet to make it easier for your decision makers to do quick cross comparisons.
- Consider compatibility. It’s likely you already have certain go-to technologies in your suite. When expanding that suite, you’ll want to select solutions and tools that are easy to integrate or make a plan for how you’ll circumvent any integration issues.
- Watch for signs of analysis paralysis. Having too many options can lead to decision fatigue. Once you’ve curated a reasonable list of potentials, take note. If you find yourself endlessly seeking more information or feel stymied at the thought of potentially choosing “wrong”, step back. After clarifying your criteria, you can re-engage with the rest of the group and, if needed, simply start over.
Criteria for New Tech
While your needs may be situation-specific or unique to your industry, these are some general criteria to help you weigh your options against.
Good User Experience
Usability is a key consideration when selecting new tech. The goal is to help you scale your output, not increase your workload. Though all new technologies will have some sort of learning curve, the more user-friendly options generally require less training time but typically offer ample customer support. They’re also largely simple and enjoyable to use.
How can your business be expected to scale if your technology can’t? To get a sense of how proactive a tech vendor is, look to see how often they roll out new features and capabilities. Company press releases should give you a good indication of how they approach their own evolution. Watch for reviews that might indicate disruptions when these updates are made and choose accordingly.
Security and Accessibility
We’re now a culture of part-time remote workers. Being able to access our most-used tools from anywhere has become a full-time requirement. SaaS platforms offer built-in accessibility while balancing ever-important security considerations. “SaaS vendors take extra steps to keep their clients’ data protected, and they have access to top-rated data centers and technologies that most small and midsize business owners don’t,” says Business News Daily.
Total Cost of Ownership
Remember that your initial investment isn’t the final price. For a more holistic estimate, consider calculating the total cost of ownership, which includes elements like ongoing maintenance and product retirement, as well as potential ROI.
Keep in mind that picking the “right” technology is really about selecting what’s best right now. SMBs would also be wise to stay abreast of what’s next. Consider maintaining contact with the broader startup community, following relevant thought leaders and research publications, or getting exposure to new ideas at conferences or industry events. That way, as the tech landscape continues to evolve, your enterprise can too.
Content created and provided by Extu.