Do You Have Too Much Tech or Not Enough? 5 Ways to Find Out. David Rabin breaks down how to find the right plan for your business.
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Your office technology fuels your business -- but what's too much tech, and what's too little?
Answers to these questions are increasingly important to success. The sophistication of office technology is escalating quickly, and employee expectations are rising. Then consider the larger systemic issues that impact all offices, big or small -- security, privacy and the need for frequent network upgrades, to name a few. At some point, every entrepreneur has to graduate from technology being an ad hoc, seat-of-the-pants experience to something that's managed -- something that's high-performing and central to the business.
Here are five ways to make sure your tech office fits your needs today and can scale for growth tomorrow.
1. Make a plan and map your milestones.
Startups and SMBs celebrate the drama of the business plan but can turn a blind eye to its corollary, the technology plan. Every good business plan needs a tech plan, too.
The best way to plan office technology is around business milestones. What infrastructure will you need when you reach 10 employees, or 100? Ten million in revenues, or $100 million? Technology use tracks closely with headcount and revenue generation. Both of these indices are a starting point to help project your future tech needs.
Of course, it's hard to make a technology plan when you can't see past year one, let alone year five. Thankfully many resources exist to help guide the process, from resellers and IT business specialists to the product manufacturers themselves.
2. Recognize the strategic value.
Startups and small businesses generally focus on investors, customers and cash flow, and can often treat office tech as an afterthought, or simply an expense.
That won't cut it in today's hiring environment. More than half of millennials say office technology is important in deciding where they'll work, according to a recent PwC study. In their personal lives, they're used to investing their own money on really good tech -- the latest phone, tablet or TV -- so understandably they expect the same from their employers.
Office tech is a key strategic investment. It goes beyond functionality, as important as that is, and increasingly reflects the caliber of your brand, the appeal of your workplace, and whether your business is truly future-facing.
3. Benchmark against your physical space.
Real estate is usually a company's greatest expense. The kind of space you have and how your people interact with it is the biggest factor in how you'll be using technology both this week and next year. Real estate is also more fluid today than ever, constantly transforming, with more variants than ever – everything from open floor plans, to telecommuting, to hoteling, which eliminates assigned seating and lets everyone just perch where they want.
Making a precise, in-depth inventory of your real estate needs is key. Does your floor plan have offices with doors? Is it mostly unassigned workstations? How many of your people telecommute? Whatever your footprint, you'll need the right technology tools to deliver what your people actually use. Balancing real estate with IT is a tough trick, but the time spent cracking this part of the code will pay major dividends down the road.
4. Set some rules and follow them.
These days, most everyone is a technology expert, at least in terms of what they know and like. Every company has one person or more who can't live without their personal laptop and expect the company's network to configure around it. There's a fine line, however, between flexibility and dysfunction.
Big companies have IT standards for a reason – it's unmanageable without them. Small companies that delay implementing standards run the risk of becoming franken-techs. The monitors bought on eBay, the laptop on sale at Best Buy, may make sense at the time but can add up to compromised performance. When it's time to scale, you'll likely have to rip out the gear that once seemed such a good value and start over.
5. Consider options other than buying.
A good starting point on the tech decision tree is -- do you have the capital to buy? Luckily you have several options that may be more financially efficient: leasing and Device as a Service (DaaS), which combines hardware leasing and end-to-end lifecycle services into a monthly contract.
Leasing has many advantages, similar to leasing a car. You won't have to worry when it's time to upgrade, or if your security is up to date. You can better predict monthly expenses without high costs upfront. Many major providers, such as Microsoft 365, offer subscription models for their most advanced service and product suites. There's no competitive penalty to leasing, other than lack of ownership equity.
Alternatively, DaaS may be the solution to free up IT staff and decrease the complexity and costs that come with device procurement and deployment. Through DaaS, you can customize your device catalog to provide the right devices for the right users, you have one point of contact who can help you resolve technical issues, and most importantly you can focus on what you do best: running your business.
Our research shows more than 90 percent of businesses are planning some kind of workplace transformation. The tech makeover that's coming is like none before -- AI, VR, and intelligent devices are already taking over and will have an impact like never before. Investing in the highest-quality, most secure and most flexible tech you can afford today while planning for tomorrow, will help attract and keep the best talent, and ensure the right tech foundation is in place for years to come.