In business, and in nature, it is the strong that survive. Rather than trying to coast through the down economy, consider ways to strengthen, improve, and grow your business. This will better your chances of "survival" and enhance the future of your company.
Seven Reasons Businesses Should Buy Technology Right Now
With all the economic doom and gloom we're hearing these days, it's easy to forget that there are still plenty of organizations out there that continue to need new and upgraded IT products and services.
Some technology requirements are just no-brainers, like keeping antivirus software up to date or complying with the regulatory guidelines. Other IT plays are strategic, geared toward cost cutting, gaining an edge on the competition or taking advantage of great prices.
1. You have reduced headcount.
If you are like many companies, you have already let some staff go as a cost-saving measure. Unfortunately, the work these employees did does not leave with them. While remaining employees can be counted on to pick up some slack, and in some cases efficiencies can be gained by reevaluating job responsibilities, you may still have more work to go around than staff available. Planning will only take you so far. You need to evaluate and determine how to automate tasks that staff are currently performing manually.
2. Because you should keep dancing with the one that brung you.
One of John Convery's favorite phrases is "Stick to your knitting." The executive vice president of vendor relations and marketing at Denali Advanced Integration in Redmond, Wash., is adamant that his company is going to keep to its basic business practices during the recession -- and Convery recommends that all companies do the same. What that means in terms of IT spend is that companies that have profited from managing technology refresh cycles wisely should keep it up or go belly-up.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)'s Adrian Jones, general manager of the HP Solution Partners Organization-Americas, sums up the need for spend: "Even though the economy has slowed, the demands on businesses have not. Security, productivity, data storage/backup and regulatory requirements are among the IT needs that continue to increase for most businesses."
3. To get an edge on the competition.
Information systems streamline business operations and help you do more with less. By investing in new technologies and automating business processes, you can run your business more efficiently. It may even be a good time to consider moving your systems "into the cloud." Cloud computing can reduce your hardware and maintenance costs while giving you increased capacity and greater scalability.
Technology isn't simply a business need, it's a business driver. Better and quicker information exchange, more useful metrics and increased productivity all are made possible by technology, note industry sources like Steve Dallman, vice president of Intel (NSDQ:INTC)'s sales and marketing group and general manager of the chip maker's worldwide reseller channel organization. "Having a competitive edge in today's tough market and having the ability to remain flexible and respond to the market as it undergoes change is more important than ever," he says.
"If the capital is there, spending on technology is a great investment for businesses to make when others cannot," says Paul Shoberg, director of sales at Minneapolis-based Works Computing. "Technology today is what's enabling companies to have a strategic advantage. Technology enables you to better understand sales cycles."
4. To save money in the long run.
Or even in the short run -- as cost-cutting IT practices like virtualization and remote systems management have matured, so too have the rates of their ROI improved. "Companies should buy now if they're looking at a virtualization project," says Jeff Rogers, president of Roseville, Calif.-based Steelhead Data. "It's a very quick ROI, sometimes within months, and you can also justify it by savings in cash flow because you've reduced other expenses in the operation."
The three "Rs" -- return, return, return -- are also key for Nigel Dessau, chief marketing officer at Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD): "As always, it's a question of ROI. You are probably not installing Oracle (NSDQ:ORCL) or implementing data center consolidation for the fun of it -- you are trying to raise your top line or lower the bottom line. If the business case is sound -- say, investing in IT that delivers strong ROI like virtualization or cloud computing -- then the project should go ahead."
Intel's Dallman thinks the IT channel is especially poised to benefit as stimulus funds start to flow: "As the U.S. stimulus package begins to impact the economy, the channel will be able to respond quickly with solutions and services that were not available in the past and provide operational savings in the future. The channel, which has led in all of last three major process technology transitions, offers a high service value in that they can quickly upgrade their customers' installed technology base for greater efficiency and output and thereby help them to remain competitive."
5. You need to cut expenses and contributions are falling.
You need to keep contributions from falling but you also need to cut costs. As you take a hard look at your budget, you are most likely finding ways to cut costs, such as minimizing travel. But eventually you start to cut into flesh and begin to cut costs that directly impact contributions. You will need to evaluate where strategically spending money will not only increase contributions but also lower expenses
6. Because prices have never been better.
With vendors desperate to keep inventory turning in an incredibly rough market, it's possible to buy technology for "extremely good prices," says Works Computing's Shoberg. Steelhead Data's Rogers adds that sellers also are ready to make deals: "There are real bargains to be had on pricing right now. We are seeing special pricing requests being approved at substantially discounted rates."
And financing terms are pretty sweet right now too, adds Rahul Sood, chief technology officer of HP's Global Voodoo business unit: "There has never been a time when you can buy technology for next to nothing. I can't remember the last time a company like HP offered zero-percent financing on consumer devices -- and I don't see it lasting forever."
7. To prepare for the eventual recovery.
It seems like only a few weeks ago that "preparing for the turnaround" was being talked about a ton by vendors of high-tech products and services. But as the depth and breadth of the current downturn has become clearer, VARs like Rogers say they're dialing back the recovery talk in favor of focusing squarely on the here and now. "Normally, you would say, 'Let's build up our competitive advantage, let's buy technology while it's relatively inexpensive.' But this is a biggie. It's hard to think about the recovery."
Adds Denali's Convery, "If you've got a company that's in financial trouble, then those conversations don't mean diddly. But if they're liquid, then yes, you can move toward more long-term discussions."
It's true that the conversation isn't going to work for every business in this climate, says HP's Jones, but those that are relatively healthy "should be addressing critical infrastructure problems in order to come out of this challenging time in a much better position to compete." Shoberg has even more plainspoken advice: "I think you get ready for the recovery by not making stupid decisions right now. If you do that, you'll be all set for the recovery."
You need to be ready to hit the ground running when it does. While business has slowed and workloads have decreased, it is a perfect time to plan and implement IT infrastructure improvements. This way, when business does pick up, you will be better prepared and able to respond to growth.
The good news is that the world economy will eventually rebound - and the current economic orthodoxy targets 2010 for the rebound. Will you use this year to reevaluate everything you do and make strategic improvements to position your organization for 2010 and beyond.
8. Gain Competitive Advantage and Customer Loyalty - With both businesses and consumers strictly evaluating their budgets and spending, it is more important than ever to differentiate yourself from the competition. While your competitors are cutting their technology budgets, you have the opportunity to expand market share. By leveraging technology, you can create innovative products and services or implement a new business approach.
9. Attract New Business - Now is the time to promote your business by expanding your web presence. Consider updating your website with new features such as: news feeds, newsletters, event calendars, case studies, photo galleries, customer support features, product catalogs, blogs, social networking capabilities, and SEO improvements. Adding such web enhancements will increase traffic to your site and offer more value to site visitors.