Practical vs Gimmicky: Which New Business Tech Do You Really Need?

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New technologies are constantly being developed and shoved in our faces. In the business world, keeping on top of this new tech can keep your company ahead of the game. However, there are some technologies that we don’t all need and may simply just be gimmicks. Occasionally, such a gimmick can impress clientele, but more often than not it can be a costly waste of money. Here are a few of the times when you should invest in new tech and when alternatively you shouldn’t.

Improving efficiency

Tech that improves the efficiency of your business is generally worth throwing money at. In the long run it could save you costs by saving you time – allowing you to get on with more pressing tasks that make you more money.

A good example is book-keeping. If you regularly spend hours a week slaving over spreadsheets with a calculator, it could be worth speeding up the process with software. Accountancy programmes and apps can automatically calculate taxes and expenses, taking away the headache. Programmes such as Quickbooks can help you learn more.

Some tech is more expensive to justify but may still produce a massive return in the long run. For example, in the manufacturing industry you could be spending a lot of time and money using saws and drill chisels when you could be using something advanced like a laser cutter. Laser cutting has a lot added perks such as greater precision and less waste – those interested can read about it at LaserLight.com/services/laser-systems-integration/. There may even be options you hadn’t considered such as outsourcing a laser cutter from another company.

Of course there are times when the efficiency may not be worth the costs. Buying an app for your company such as a loyalty card app might be economically viable if you’re an international business, but if you’re an independent retailer the cost of developing and marketing the app might make it a waste of money when a plastic loyalty card or a stamp system could be just as effective.

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Saving costs

Certain technology can save you money. One example, of a good piece of tech that will save you money is video communication software. Programmes such as Skype allow you to talk to someone face-to-face without having to meet in person. This can save time and costs on both parties having to travel. You can give interviews with applicants over Skype, give guided tours, give live demos or even hold conferences.

Other technologies may save you money on the surface but may not be as much of no-brainer as you might initially think. For example, virtual currencies such as Bitcoin can help with those making international transactions,allowing you to save money on transfer rates. In some businesses, where all parties use Bitcoin and there are regular transactions, this technology could be very useful. But if you’re only making a few international transactions and you’re not even sure if the other party deals in Bitcoin, you could be wasting your time by overcomplicating things – creating extra hassle when it comes to book-keeping and invoicing.

Keeping you safe and secure

Safety and security are vital within business and there are lots of technologies out there to protect our businesses. However, whilst some of this technology is based on true risks, others may exaggerate the risk.

A burglar alarm is important for protecting your business from thieves. However, paying extra for CCTV and gadgetry such as fingerprint recognition could all be taking things too far. In many cases, the lowered insurance premiums won’t even make up for the extra installation/rental costs.

Cloud computing is a technology that has divided many businesses. To some, the idea of putting all of one’s files on a remote server seems risky. However, others argue that cloud storage can protect against a physical burglary or a fire, protecting all your sensitive information remotely. In such cases, weighing up the risks with the advantages is necessary. When it comes to cloud computing, there are many advantages beyond the backing up files such as being able to work from multiple locations and devices at the same time and freeing up hard-drive space, all of which for many outweigh the risks.

Hiring a risk assessor or a surveyor may help to establish which technology your individual business realistically needs, and which is just gimmickry.

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Improving your reputation

Some technology can have the bonus of improving your reputation. One big area where this is the case is green technology. Customers are swaying more towards businesses that think and act green.

If you run a manufacturing plant and are using up a lot of electricity, opting to run off a renewable energy source such as solar power or wind power could improve how the public perceive you. You could insert solar panels or make small adjustments such as LED lighting.

Similarly, many businesses are taking the decision to go paperless. Sending newsletters via email, sharing documents online and even using electronic signature tools such as Docusign can all have a positive effect.

There are other ways of improving your reputation through technology that may simply rely on the ‘cool factor’. Justifying such technology can often be a lot harder. For example, VR virtual tours are being used by some trades – largely by real estate companies for offering virtual tours of properties and construction companies for providing virtual tours for investors. Whilst embracing this technology may impress certain people, there are times when it may simply serve as a costly gimmick. Weigh up whether you’re use of technology is likely to impress your target audience, or if you’re simply satisfying your own love of gadgetry. This applies to technologies such as apps, drones and the ‘internet of things’.

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