The Reason You Did Not Buy a Technology |

“…we’re talking about improving your business so the onus to find value in technology is actually on you!”

I just read Joel Bruckenstein’s 2009 Software and Technology Survey on Financial Planning’s website (read the article). It’s a great article and Joel did a lot of analysis to help us all understand what technologies people are and are not using. Reading this article raised a question in my mind… why are people NOT buying a particular technology? As an efficiency solution provider myself, I have some ideas why. Whether you’re a technologist like myself, an IT professional or just the buyer of a new technology, it is reasonable to expect that saving people time and money would be an obvious reason to make everyone want to use it. But they don’t. Why is that? Here are the main reasons I encounter that apply to every one of us, including me: ignorance, return on investment (ROI) and a lack of realized value.

Let’s face it: when you encounter a problem it is much easier to ignore it than to try and solve it. Imagine stopping in the middle of a process every time you encounter an inefficiency, a lack of integration, a missing feature, etc. to find a better solution. You would never accomplish anything on time. When you’re busy and simply trying to complete a task the last thing you want to do is stop and find a better way. Therefore we remain ignorant of better solutions, better service or better features within our existing solutions. One of the best ways to solve this problem is to do what Joel concludes and put together a technology plan.

A good technology plan should start with an overview of your operations and processes, identification of
your existing technologies that serve each process point and who on your team operates each step of your process. With the overview in hand, identify the process steps where you either don’t have a technology solution at all or your current solution is outdated or insufficient. Knowing which process steps need your attention will make it easier for you to plan for the technology that best fits your process flow. The last step to building a basic technology plan is to research the possible solutions and build a budget.

How To Assess ROI
There is this great fallacy when it comes to buying technology called return on investment (ROI). Every sales person wants to believe that if they can show you a really great ROI that you’ll get out your checkbook. It doesn’t quite work that way. You intuitively know that your return on investment may vary according to your actual usage of the solution, current costs without the new solution and whether you and your users will actually adopt the solution.

The better way to assess whether a solution will give you a return on investment is to decide whether you can live without the solution altogether. Of course you must consider the cost – spending $5,000 to save $500 doesn’t make a lot of sense. On the other hand, if the solution will increase your revenue by $10,000 while saving you $500 then spending $5,000 can make sense. If you feel you cannot live without the solution, then ignore the ROI numbers because the solution will be worth it if your budget affords the up-front cost. If you can live without the solution then you need to decide if the new technology will help you grow, enhance your revenue, improve your image or other intangible benefits that can’t be included in an ROI analysis.

Value – Perceived or Realized?
There are two ways to be sold on a product: the perception of its value or the realization of its value. Perception of value is formed during the sales and research process. Asking others how they use the product, reading about the most popular solutions and hearing anecdotal success stories all contribute to your perception of the solution’s value. Then you buy and hope it lives up to the value you perceive. The other way is to realize value before you buy. Realizing value is usually achieved during a free trial when you can see the solution in action and see the results for yourself. For example, with our end-user product, Quik! Forms Library, you can try the fully-featured software for 14 days for free and within the first few minutes of generating forms you’ll realize the value of the solution and know whether the solution is for you or not.

A primary reason you didn’t buy or use a technology is due to a lack of value, whether perceived or realized. To improve your business with technology you must overcome the hurdle of finding the value in a given solution. Obviously the person or website telling you to look at the technology may need to do a better job of conveying value but we’re talking about improving your business so the onus to find value in technology is actually on you! Take the free trial and really try out the solution. Talk to other users. Read the testimonials and case studies. Find the value and see what Joel is talking about when he says “What are you waiting for?”.

What was the last technology purchase you didn’t make?

The Future of Online Business – What to Do When Your Cell Phone Swallows Up Your House |

The future of online business promises to be exciting, profound, and completely unpredictable. Over the last few decades, the pace of change appears to have accelerated. Due to new developments in communications, transportation and technology, the business world is one big jumble of dynamic change and complexity.

No business is immune from the effects of this rapid change. Small manufacturers in the Midwestern United States now have to contend with “manufacturing cities” in the heart of China. Once secure and profitable providers of business process services in India now have to look over their shoulders at upstart Filipino companies.

And it’s not just about international competition.

A spa and massage business in a town near you has to worry about everyone from dentists, to chiropractors and even allergists muscling in on their business. And all this is in addition to competition from “mall massage machines” and add-on services provided by strip mall pedicure providers.

Digital Technology and the Future of Business

Of all the rapid changes going on in the world of business today, none is more potentially disruptive than the advance of digital technology into the lives of consumers through connected devices and the implications for businesses of every kind.

Once upon a time the internet “existed” only on a computer. At least that’s how we visualized it. Today, every owner of a Smartphone or mobile device carries the internet with them. As the trends toward mobile internet and integrated devices picks up steam, many are asking how business will change in a world where the consumer is “always logged on”.

Particularly, what happens when the internet escapes out of the devices and inserts itself more ubiquitously into our every day lives?

For instance, what happens when our shirts are embedded with a microchip that takes readings and tells us our blood pressure and our cholesterol levels?

Today, many cars come equipped with global positioning systems, automatic parallel parking and the ability to map out a path to our destinations and make an emergency call when we need help.

If you’re a busy small business owner, the point of this article is not to get you bogged down in the fantasy playground of an over-caffeinated futurist. Rather, my aim is to point out some practical strategic applications to making detailed observations about the changes in technology and how those changes affect the behavior of the people you hope to sell to – the consumers.

How to Leverage “Ubiquitous Computing” for Business Success

In many of my talks and articles, I share with business owners how to stop fighting uncertainty and prepare their businesses to harness it as a competitive advantage. When it comes to rapid technological change, there are some principles that can help your business to thrive from it rather than to be blindsided by it. Here are a few of my best ideas in this topic.

1. People Will Use Future Technology To Meet Ancient Needs

It is a well tested principle of the social sciences that basic human psychological needs have not changed in millennia and are not likely to change. When you come across a new technology, think about how people are likely to use it to solve an old need. This is especially important if this technology may affect your industry or your business.

2. Keep An Eye On The Trends

One of the most effective ways of incorporating every day innovation into your business is to set up a system for scanning the horizon for new developments. If you own a small business or are an entrepreneurial professional, you can identify special blogs, websites and thought leaders to track with RSS feeds and bookmarking technologies.

If you run a bigger company or organization, consider a systematic process of scenario planning at least once or twice a year. These scenario planning sessions should account for new technologies that have made an entry into your space, and new technologies being tested in adjacent industries.

3. Get Customer-centric…fast

Developing a truly customer-centric business is perhaps the most fool-proof way to make sure that you don’t get blindsided by a “killer app”, or a technology-driven consumer trend that drives you out of business. No matter whether you’re a manufacturer, or a local retail establishment, you can find out what your customers want, and use that knowledge to establish a robust dialogue with them.

Being customer-centric can also help you keep an eye on the new breed of competitor; a competitor who is not nominally in “your industry”, and yet proceeds to put you out of business because they are substitutes for the same “end benefit” that your products or services deliver to the marketplace.