Most companies talk about the ROI of their technology solutions in terms of hardware, software and uptime. These are all fine measures of your return on investment, but there’s an even better overall metric to examine: the productivity of your people.
Your investment in innovative technology returns even further when employees (and their tasks) are consistently productive. In fact, the return on effectiveness from the right technology solutions gives your company a competitive advantage.
To start reaping better returns on your technology investments, begin by measuring these four metrics in your business:
Metric #1: Employee Retention
The employee talent that your business attracts and retains has a direct impact on your company’s bottom line. While this metric seems to do more with HR, your investment (or lack thereof) in the right innovative technology for employees significantly correlates with staff retention.
If employees are frustrated because they don’t have the technology tools to do their job (or worse, if those tools never work right), your business suffers on two key ROI measures: In the short term, staff members are less effective and waste more time, and in the long term, employees are more likely to end their tenure when working in a frustrating environment. When it comes to retaining younger, more tech-savvy employees, having an up-to-date IT infrastructure is critical to keeping them effective and satisfied. One option to consider with this group is a Bring Your Own Device (or BYOD) policy where you let team members choose their preferred device for you to purchase according to their role. For example, a salesperson might need a tablet or other mobile technology for easy-to-display tables, graphs and presentations, while a graphic designer might prefer using a Mac laptop and a web developer might pick a desktop Windows PC.
Metric tip: Consider what technology policies and purchases your company needs to shift to better retain the most talented employees and position yourself for better business growth.
Metric #2: Customer Retention
Right behind employee retention is the return your technology delivers through retaining customers – the lifeblood of any business. With the right creative technology solutions, your business gains a competitive advantage in delivering superior customer service when, how and where customers want to be served, including in the following ways:
Phone and mobile technology: If your phone system is frequently down or features like voicemail aren’t set up correctly, then customers can’t reach you with their questions, concerns or orders.
Email: When your email servers go down, customers aren’t able to contact your business quickly, leading to frustration with your company. The same happens when employees can’t access emails remotely: response rates suffer and so do customers.
Web applications: With the widespread use of the internet, make sure you upgrade any old business systems to match customer needs. For example, your consumer product company should upgrade its catalog ordering system to an e-commerce website, where can customers order online, get receipts emailed to them and track shipping. The same goes for operations like marketing, which have the ability to harness marketing automation software for converting prospects and nurturing leads.
Metric tip: Focus on customer satisfaction and retention when investing in business basics like phone, email and web applications – a solid business IT infrastructure produces generous long-term return your company can’t ignore.
Metric #3: Customized Technology Solutions
Another facet of employee productivity you should measure for a better technology return is the ability of your business IT infrastructure to fit your core business functions. Many technology solutions are developed to fit a variety of companies, but that also means they might not fit yours in the exact way your employees will use them.
A common reaction to this problem is to purchase another IT solution to fix the side effects of the first. Often, this buy-to-fix approach builds on itself until a business has bought so many technology products or services that they aren’t sure what the initial problem was.
Instead of purchasing more IT to fix a problem, consider customizing your current technology to better fit your business needs and employee workflows. For example, if a pure cloud computing system isn’t right for your business, then maybe a customized, hybrid cloud infrastructure might be a better fit for daily employee needs.
Metric tip: Reap a better return on your technology investments and increase employee productivity by customizing your IT to specific business and staff needs.
Metric #4: Wise Technology Investments
The last metric to consider when measuring the return on your technology solutions is the suitability of technology investments for your business. Information technology trends shift almost daily, but that doesn't mean your company needs to shift with each one.
Rather than blindly following the latest IT developments, take a step back and look into what systems are best for your company. For example, a B2B service company probably doesn’t need an e-commerce site for its customers, no matter how trendy e-commerce is. What’s more important is the potential return of investment through employee effectiveness and customer retention.
There’s a time and place to purchase new hardware or software, but your decisions should be informed by gains in employee efficiency or business growth, not IT trends. Sometimes to see this bigger picture, you need a technology consultant with a wider breadth of experience