Where Should You Spend Your IT Dollars? Six Essential Areas To Prioritize
Key Points in This Article:
- IT investments are crucial to the short-term and long-term success of any business.
- Consider investments in emerging technologies, cybersecurity, and sustainability now to position your business for growth in the future.
Many business leaders only invest in technology when there’s a crisis. Maybe a key system suffered downtime during a peak production period. Or a ransomware attack crippled operations. And these emergencies are, unfortunately, what it takes to initiate long overdue maintenance, repair, and investments in IT.
Sometimes, business leaders only fund maintenance, repair, and routine upgrades. But even as their industry increasingly embraces new technologies and platforms, these business leaders look the other way. Even as their rivals develop clear competitive advantages, these business owners delay adoption.
If your company isn’t investing adequately in information technology, you must revisit your short-term and long-term plans. Not only can it help you accelerate your progress toward your goals this year. But harnessing emerging technologies strategically now can help position you for rapid sales and market share growth.
But if your only IT purchases come when sales are slumping, or your server has been breached, you’re putting your business at a severe disadvantage. Deploying IT software and hardware takes time; doing so under duress increases your chances of costly errors and your overall expenditures.
To accommodate current needs and future growth, review your IT infrastructure and plans in relation to these 6 areas today.
When first introduced, the term “digital transformation” was dismissed by many as the latest in a long string of overhyped buzzwords. But businesses across the globe gained a new appreciation for the term during the pandemic. As businesses large and small sought to compete in a touchless, isolated market, IT professionals scrambled to establish digital approaches to every aspect of their employer’s operations possible and feasible.
Even after the lockdowns, many businesses have realized lasting productivity gains and efficiencies by digitizing operations. And in many cases, there are further gains to be had. By digging into your operations and with relatively small-end investments, you’ll likely find further opportunities to save substantial sums and improve productivity with digital technology.
Supply Chain Management
Not only did the pandemic reinforce the value and potential of digital technologies, but it also reaffirmed the importance of effective supply chain management. The global chip shortage and lockdowns definitely made distribution and fulfillment challenging. Yet, even with ports open again, many companies still struggle to forecast demand properly, manage inventory, maintain supplier relationships, and meet customer deadlines.
In some cases, businesses can address most of these problems by deploying best-in-class supply chain management software and investing time in supplier relationship management. But when engaging in manufacturing, businesses should invest in upgrading production management platforms that leverage AI and IoT to synchronize production with demand, improve quality control and inventory management, and help streamline distribution logistics. You must exercise the tightest controls you can on the factors you can control to mitigate the risks presented by those you can’t.
AI and Machine Learning
Even before ChatGPT dominated global headlines, AI and machine learning technology were transforming how we do business. Industries from mining to consumer packaged goods are making copious use of AI-enhanced technologies at each stage of the production and distribution cycle. And as these platforms are exposed to more data, they become more proficient at carrying out the tasks you need.
While we’re not quite in science fiction territory yet, today’s AI platforms can help you accomplish some truly remarkable tasks. From sophisticated technical analysis for finance companies to complex customer analyses for marketers, AI-powered business intelligence can sift through substantial amounts of data to find the actionable insights you need. AI also helps businesses engage with customers, strengthen cybersecurity measures, filter out unqualified candidates in the hiring process, and more. When you consider investing in digital transformation, consider the role AI-powered platforms may play at your company.
Internet of Things
Another relatively new technology that is shaping the way we do business and live our lives? The Internet of Things (IoT), which is not exactly a discrete technology in and of itself. IoT pairs digital technology with physical objects allowing our businesses and homes to be more connected than ever before.
IoT has many applications, with some of the most visible emerging in consumer applications, facilities management, retail, transportation, utilities, manufacturing, urban planning, hospitality, and healthcare. But we’ve barely scratched the surface with IoT. And even if you don’t have any immediate plan to deploy it for your business, it’s not too early to build the infrastructure necessary to support future IoT applications.
If any cybersecurity professional tells you you have absolutely nothing to worry about on the security front, you should be concerned. That’s because cyber threats are constantly growing in scope and sophistication. And threat actors are using the same kind of powerful innovations like AI you’re using to grow your business to attack you.
You should thoroughly review the cybersecurity measures you have in place at least once every six months. And that doesn’t mean a cursory glance at the plan you wrote six months ago but a deep dive into what you have on paper and what you have in practice. And if there are areas you’ve neglected, such as updating retiring software or replacing out-of-date hardware, make sure you’ve allocated dollars in those areas.
Whether your industry has an outsized impact on the environment or not, it’s time to explore how digital technologies can make your business more sustainable across the board. Consumers have shown an increasing preference for sustainable brands over the years and have shifted dollars from those not working to improve their environmental impact. And even if your industry is not in the crosshairs of regulators now, the threat of climate change will place it there later.
It’s a good idea to consider how you can leverage emerging technologies and best environmental practices to make your company more sustainable in the long run. Even if sustainability does not feel like a priority now, it can take a long time to get it right. Making small investments today can pay off substantially in the future.