How do you decide when – or perhaps just as importantly, when not – to invest in new technology?
That might mean buying a new smartphone or PC, or it could be a complete restructure of your IT systems.
With the news that Samsung have released a $2,000 foldable phone, we thought it would be a good time to think about how, why and when you should upgrade or replace technology.
1. Establish a need
Nike are struggling to fix a bug which means owners of its shoes can’t wear them.
We’d humbly suggest that trainers which require an app to replace doing-up your shoelaces are not solving a problem most people experience.
EJC celebrates technology which solves problems: technology which makes your life easier, or your business more profitable in some way.
Sometimes hardware becomes unreliable simply through age and use. Consider the risk and impact on your business of its failure: it is better to be in control of changes rather than to have to react to problems – which always seem to occur at the worst possible time.
Or are you considering an upgrade because you have a problem that needs to be solved, or because of the ‘magpie effect’ – you’ve seen something shiny and new, and must have it?
(It’s fine to buy something for the fun of it if you can afford to and understand what you’re doing. What we’re saying is, if you really need a jetpack then go for it. Just don’t expect a particularly positive cost/benefit analysis.)
Deciding roughly what you need is a start, but it’s time to get specific.
2. List your requirements
In some cases this will be simple. If you have a broken printer which did everything you need, you simply need a similar new one.
On the other hand, if your server keeps crashing because it is overloaded and your business needs have changed since you bought it (perhaps people now work remotely), then you will need to start from scratch.
Split your requirements into three categories, the simplistic examples below are for a printer:
- Critical, must-have – colour printing, laser, scanning facility, WiFi
- Preferable – double-sided printing
- It would be nice, but we could live without it – media card port, pot for paper clips
And, of course, your budget. How much do you have to spend? It’s important to consider the full cost of what you are buying. Remaining on the printer theme, it’s not uncommon for the cost of a printer to be lower than the cost of filling it with toner. How often will that need to be replaced? What about if it goes wrong?
3. Consider the options
Every problem will almost certainly have multiple solutions – if you’ve ever tried to upgrade your phone you’ll know how overwhelming it can be.
This is where knowing your budget and having clear requirements will help. Some options can be eliminated instantly because you can’t afford them. Others will fall by the wayside because they don’t offer the features on your critical list.
Once you have narrowed down the list you can make a decision based on your trust of the brand, previous experience, reviews (treat with caution) and, of course, solid advice from your friendly IT support provider.
We often get asked to help right at the beginning of the upgrade process – perhaps because people don’t know where to start, or because they trust our understanding of their business and experience of the available solutions.