How to Actually Get a Return on Your Technology Investments

Impossible? How to Actually Get a Return on Your Technology Investments

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Technology investments have been a priority for most companies since before the pandemic, which brought new urgency to the implementation of new solutions.  However, fully implementing a digital transformation is surprisingly uncommon – a new study found that only 15% of businesses with digital transformation programs have completed them.

That low success rate is concerning because successful technology adoption is critical for maintaining or gaining a competitive advantage and for improving employee and customer experience. Why is it so hard to get the full value from technology investments?

In our experience, businesses often invest in large tech systems but only see partial implementation, adoption, and overall success, due to a:

  • Lack of expertise and training
  • Poor planning and goal alignment
  • Failure to adopt new mindsets
  • One-and-done implementation (continuous optimization is key)

In this article, we’ll discuss why getting the best tech ROI matters, along with best practices to help brands maximize the value they get from their tech spend.  A well-implemented tech platform or solution can – and should – generate value in many ways, such as:

Enhancing the customer experience.
When employees have better, more connected tech tools and access to unified customer data, they can respond to customer needs faster and more accurately. Employees who have the technology they need to help them perform better are more likely to be engaged.

Providing greater visibility into company performance.
Eliminating data silos through modern, integrated tech solutions allow executives, leaders, and team members to measure performance across the full organization, better understand their customer journey and employee experience, and improve outcomes for employees and customers.

Reducing data security risks.
When internal technology is easy to use and delivers the results employees need, they’re less likely to adopt insecure tech work-arounds known as “shadow IT.”  Nearly 70% of organizations suffered a shadow-IT related security incident within the previous year.

Decreasing IT costs.
Adopting the right tech tools and implementing them in a way that generates maximum value can decrease IT costs.

All of these tech-related improvements can help brands maintain a competitive edge. But, attaining them requires foresight and follow-through. Success for your digital transformation starts with a holistic, long-term tech implementation and optimization plan consisting of four main steps.

Step 1: Define the goal of your company’s technology adoption.
This definition must go beyond simply naming a challenge that you want technology to solve. Consider how achieving your goal will affect your employees and your customers, because their experience with your new technology will shape your brand reputation.

Digital transformations often fail because of “a top-down approach” that pushes technology onto users instead of working with them to find the right tools.

Remember, digital transformation is never complete. You’ll regularly benchmark success against these goals to determine how to drive better outcomes.

Step 2: Commit to the change.
Effective change management requires buy-in from all levels of leadership and management. It also requires champions, the users who will be most enthusiastic about the new technology and who will generate interest among other employees and promote adoption of the new tools.

When the digital transformation is well underway, leaders need to commit to making it permanent.

This stage requires careful planning to ensure that data is transferred out of the old systems or destroyed in a compliant way before the legacy systems are turned off.

Step 3: Expand technology use and training.
Leadership and champions can share the benefits of the new technology in ways that will encourage other employees to adopt it.

Training tailored to the needs of each type of employee will also drive the adoption of the new technology.

This needs to be an ongoing commitment rather than a one-time session, so that employees can reinforce their knowledge and so there’s a training framework in place as the company implements more elements of the new technology.

Step 4: Continuously monitor, analyze and optimize your implementation.
Many companies leave a tremendous amount of potential value on the table by only using a small percentage of their tech’s functionality.

Embrace the mindset that digital transformation is not an end-state; it’s an evolution.

Employee and customer feedback will help define the next best new use cases for the technology. At a meta level, the learnings from your digital transformation can help to streamline the adoption of other technologies as needed in the future.

Don’t Set It and Forget It 

Digital transformation is never over, and by working with the right technology partners, you’re technology investments are never static. There’s always an opportunity to customize or refresh your tech stack to ensure it continues to drive value as employees’ and customers’ needs evolve.

These four steps allow your company to find technology that fits your business and experience goals. They also help to create a framework for your ongoing digital transformation process through training, monitoring, and continuous optimization. The end result is a successful transformation that yields the most possible value from your technology investment.

As CEO of digital agency Whereoware, Michael Mathias leads Whereoware's strategic vision and culture of innovation, comprehensive digital marketing, and flawless performance.