It’s becoming clear that the economic highs we've seen over the last few years are settling down. What’s less clear is how low they will go and for how long.
Savvy business leaders understand that the one thing that will help them weather this change is technology. While spending on technology will remain strong going forward, the key drivers to tech investments will shift, and practicality will be the key watchword.
The cloud will continue to gain momentum as the key enabler to work from anywhere. Still, cloud costs will be more closely scrutinized across different departments, and some tasks formerly handled by cloud providers will likely go back to the IT staff. In addition, companies will look to reveal underutilized services that could enable additional cost savings.
Companies will also turn to automation and AI to boost productivity and reduce costs caused by errors and waste. For example, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) systems will help companies automate repetitive tasks while minimizing human error that can result in additional costs and penalties.
Practical AI applications will also continue to be implemented. For example, 24-7 customer service chatbots can provide significant ROI compared to the cost of full-time employees while also freeing time for these employees to handle more strategic issues. Predictive analytics can help companies anticipate issues such as supply chain challenges and address them before they become more costly.
Here are four questions to ask before investing in any technology:
1. Will it boost efficiency?
The key to investing in a solution will be its ability to help your organization operate more efficiently. Analyze every solution from an efficiency lens – ask if the solution will help your company work smarter, leaner, and with fewer resources.
2. Will it make us more productive?
Automation that helps, for example, a manufacturer produce four times the goods in the same timeframe as in the past, should be considered an essential investment. Empowering greater productivity directly impacts bottom-line revenue and can help reduce costs significantly.
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3. What is the ROI?
Return on investment will be more important than ever. Software vendors should be able to demonstrate how quickly companies will realize ROI and provide examples of other customers’ ROI metrics.
4. How many internal resources will be required to deploy it?
Some solutions could be game-changers in helping your company operate leaner and more efficiently, but if they are so disruptive that they require internal specialists to deploy and maintain them, they could have the opposite effect. Always ask about a vendor’s ability to provide ongoing maintenance and support.
In a recent CNBC Technology Executive Council survey, more than three-quarters of tech leaders expect their organization to spend more on technology this year; none said they would be spending less. Tech leaders surveyed said that “if they’ve learned anything from past downturns, it’s that technology is not a cost center but rather a business driver.”
Whatever lies ahead for the economy, one thing is certain: Key technologies will remain recession-proof as they help companies reduce costs, remove risk, and keep their businesses strong and resilient. Technology, however, will be more closely scrutinized and must prove its value like never before.
[ Leading CIOs are reimagining the nature of work while strengthening organizational resilience. Learn 4 key digital transformation leadership priorities in a new report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. ]