Keeping Your Technology Current

Monday, May 26 2014

Imagine trying to sell a company with ten-year-old technology! I can’t conceive of any possible explanation for not staying current if you expect to compete now and sell later.

Over the past few years the fields of transportation, manufacturing, plumbing, electrical, printing, real-estate, insurance, accounting, engineering, architectural, even training and development have undergone tremendous change. Sometimes the new technology is mechanical; tasks get done faster, safer, with less energy, and are more easily tracked. With others, software has improved the business in many of the same ways, as well as providing better metrics, making it easier to develop best practices, or to communicate. The list goes on.

Unfortunately, most technology improvements come with a significant cost; the purchase price, time to seek the best technology, time to train employees, loss of productivity during adoption, and countless less obvious costs. If you’re still going to be running and growing your business for another five-plus years, you have time to get your money back. But, what if you plan to sell in two or three years? Can you justify the big bucks involved in a new website, a new ERP system or robotics? Can you afford not to?

It’s not a simple answer. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Will the new technology pay for itself? In how many years?
  • Will your business have any chance of selling if it isn’t current?
  • If yes, what extra value would it add if you did have it? Would you get your money back in the sale?
  • Will the improved performance metrics leverage a higher business value?
  • What are your chances of selling even if you do spend the money? A glut of businesses are going to be up for sale and many owners will have trouble finding a buyer at all. And if you spend that money and don’t sell your business, is it money down the drain?
  • By not investing in technology are you sending a signal that this is the beginning of the end? Will customers look for more progressive and invested suppliers? Will you lose good employees? Will competitors pounce on the opportunity to jump ahead while you dither?

The cost of embracing new technology can be daunting enough when your business is beginning. It may be more so as you think of transitioning away from your business. Don’t default into doing nothing. Make an informed decision based on a thoughtful analysis of the likely consequences.