2018 and 2019 were interesting years.
While online businesses continue to grow, a few start-ups like Label Life (women’s apparel and home décor) and Pepper Fry (home décor) chose to open offline stores. Truth dawned on them that some customers will always want to touch and feel a product before buying it. They prefer interacting with a human face who shares and resolves their concerns, rather than chatbots.
On the other hand, purchase of daily need items is getting increasingly app-driven. Sellers of groceries and vegetables, food, medicines and beauty services have adopted home delivery business models. Local apps have sprung up to compete with the unicorns or funded ventures.
Everybody wants to enter the payments scenario with their wallets and payment apps – from giants like Google and Amazon to a newbie like Swiggy. It has created partnership channels with financial institutions.
2020 brought in unanticipated shocks, not trends. Covid-19 compelled us to work and learn from home environs, and technology became indispensable. Many businesses and institutions find themselves inadequate to meet new challenges, and are suffering losses.
Learning that emerges from this:
- We have to meet customers at their location.
- Accessibility is important.
- Reduction of overheads helps.
- Mobile interfaces will continue to rule.
There is an investment in technology – setting up responsive platforms, websites, apps, chatbots or using Artificial Intelligence.
It gives rise to a bigger question – How much should a business invest in technology?
FACTORS THAT WILL GOVERN THE CHOICE
Can you use existing platforms, or do you need custom-built technology?
This applies to corporates, startups as well as educational institutions.
Where do you stand today?
- Are you using legacy systems which are not aligned to present day needs of the business?
- Do you have the competencies to go online?
- Are your systems outdated, upgradable or need replacement?
- Where are the systems failing? – readiness to adapt to new challenges, security or non-availability of talent to manage the systems?
- Is there a defence available against ransomware?
- Have you got a penetration test conducted by a third party to assess vulnerability?
- If attacked, what will be the extent of loss and what kind of damage control measures will be needed?
- Do you have a disaster recovery plan, and is it resistant to ransomware?
- Is your hardware updated, or needs to be replaced?
- What will be the cost of replacement?
Top concerns in choosing technology
- What are your five top concerns in the business?
- What is prompting you to make changes in the existing system?
- What do you hope to achieve by changing systems?
- Which system is causing you concern – CRM, storage, identity management, cloud platforms? Are they already integrated, or need to be integrated?
- Can a single vendor fix all, or you will need to engage multiple vendors for redesigning different systems?
- What kind of support will be needed to manage those systems, and who will provide that?
- Do you have an inventory of known business risks?
- Have you gauged the probability of these risks impacting your business?
- Have you attached a figure to the business and financial impact of each risk?
Identification of alternatives
- Are you aware of the latest technology trends, and which are applicable to your business?
- Have you conducted a research on user behavior?
- Do you listen to your customers online? Are there any complaints regarding accessibility, operability of platforms, preference for other modes of communication or buying channels?
- Have you lost or gained business in the last two years?
- What are your competitors doing, and what is the feedback about them?
- Have you spoken to experts or fellow business owners or users about the pros and cons of new systems? The picture you get from them is more realistic than that presented by value-added resellers.
Talent acquisition and retention strategy
- Will you employ in-house talent or engage freelancers?
- What is the scene on availability of required talent in the market?
- How will you recruit and retain talent, since good resources are likely to be poached upon by competitors or targeted by head-hunters?
- What is the impact of losing a good resource on your business?
Cost of the changes you wish to introduce
Elements of technology costs are
- Annual charges
- Migration, integration and management cost
- Cost of shifting to cloud computing
- Cost of security solutions
- Cost of support systems
- Ransomware resistant backups
- Cybersecurity insurance
- Cost of manpower
Return on Investment
Every discussion or decision on technology should start with relevant research and end with a positive return on investment. The time span for such returns will differ for different businesses and different systems.
The following information from Deloitte Insights is dated March 2018, but gives an idea of how much businesses spend on technology.
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