Is That Really Necessary?

Why (and What) to Buy

It's About Timing
Why should you buy technology? To make more money by enhancing your productivity. For that to happen, you will have to do better than just recoup a product's deployment costs before it's replaced by a successor.

Some products, like Windows Millennium or digital cameras, return so little on the investment and are replaced so quickly that you can't get your money back. Others, on the other hand, with even shorter life cycles, such as cell phones and 802.11b networks, offer so many advantages that it pays to get on them early despite the costs. Eventually, you'll have to refresh each of your technologies or be nibbled to death by lost worker efficiency.

It's up to you to figure out the right timing for each investment-unfortunately, there's no neat rule of thumb that applies to all product life cycles. But we tend to agree with experienced IT managers and analysts who advise against being the first on your block with the latest version of anything. Then, take a hard, skeptical squint at the potential for return on each investment. That's the approach that guided these product judgments.

 

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This article was originally published in the April 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Is That Really Necessary?.

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