Thoughtful tech investment

This article was originally published in Forbes.

In recent years, businesses across many industries have experienced the labor shortages that came after a global pandemic, material sourcing challenges because of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, and general financial pressure from sharp inflation rate increases in the United States. These difficulties meant that many companies were forced to modify their plans to focus on weathering the storm.

As a first step, companies cut budgets for services that are not immediately necessary for operations.

While cutting budgets during an economic downturn is reasonable, decision-makers must make these decisions strategically and keep the future in mind to ensure their organizations are in a good place when the hardships ease.

Tech is one sector that may see budget cuts within an organization when times are tough. This can put a business in a difficult position to maximize opportunities when it comes out on the other side.

This article will provide several reasons why it is critical to continue to invest resources in your business’s technology, even when faced with difficult economic conditions.

Cyber-Security Will Always Be Directly Relevant To Business Operations

A company’s data and information are some of its most important assets. Security breaches can lead to thousands of lost dollars—not to mention sensitive company information. When business is slow, tech specialists within an organization may have more time to bulletproof their systems. This could involve new security systems, developing safer organizational processes, or simply taking time to re-evaluate current systems’ security.

It is far better for an organization to identify security threats ahead of time rather than discover issues when they are exposed. Allowing security to fail before replacement makes a business vulnerable to cyber-attacks, which can be costly to fix in both time and money.

Invest In Differentiators To Stay Ahead Of The Competition

Investing time and resources into technology when competitors are not will create a competitive edge when markets pick up again. Whether investments take the form of new software, hardware or simply time spent developing new tools or service offerings, it pays dividends to continually focus on technology.

When business picks up again, it is advantageous to have differentiators like new tools and services instead of developing them on the spot. Staying up to date on the latest tech is necessary to stay a step ahead of its competitors.

Improve Customer Service And Efficiency Through Employee Training

Investing in technology doesn’t have to involve spending money. If decision-makers resist investing funds into new technology, an organization can keep an edge by addressing process inefficiencies through continuing education and training.

A common problem for many businesses is employees developing bad habits with its tools and procedures. Using the extra time in slow markets means a business is running at peak performance and already prepared for increased workloads when the market goes up again.

Customer service is a valuable focus as well. Businesses that focus on adjusting and refining the customer experience will be prepared to put their best foot forward as workloads increase and will retain more clientele than those that invested nothing into training during a downturn.

Address Data Governance

To unlock the full potential of a company’s data in improving decision-making, the data must be recorded, stored and analyzed correctly. This is particularly important during an economic downturn because there is a higher level of scrutiny on the margins. The data displayed to prospects and current customers needs to be correct to ensure that service offerings and differentiators are appropriately communicated. Providing accurate data presented to executives and analysts could be the difference in client retention, strategic decisions or even budget amounts.

This is also an efficiency concern. Even if the above advice on efficiency training for employees is followed, accurate data and a single source of truth are necessary for new training to have a beneficial effect. This is another investment that can be made primarily with time rather than funds.

Thoughtful Tech Investments During Hardship Pay Dividends Later

It can be challenging to decide to make investments when the market is slow, but it is essential to keep a forward-thinking mindset to prepare for the struggles to end.

If a business wants to put itself in the best position to take advantage of any opportunity that might arise, it must not be complacent when examining potential tech investments. Technology advances quickly, and a company that is too cautious to invest while business is slow will only fall farther behind.

The companies that make thoughtful investments in their tech, whether by purchasing new systems or dedicating employee time to development and training, will emerge from financial difficulties ready to display their differentiators most effectively.

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