Technology: Always Need To Solve A Problem?


If you are a business owner who feels new technology should only be adopted to solve a problem, you might be missing out on the enormous opportunities it can offer to grow your business.

In fairness, there is so much new technology being developed these days that business owners might feel they do not have the time to assess each one for the potential value it can bring to their business. This is perhaps the main reason behind the tendency only to seek out new technologies when problems arise.

Business owners may also feel quite overwhelmed in the face of an avalanche of new technology and the daunting prospect of having to service its implementation into the business. Normally, this is where the old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” may be proffered to ward off the latest fad.

In more recent times, the mindset seems to be firmly along the lines of “technology needs to solve a problem.” I think it is worth acknowledging that a lot of technology does indeed solve a problem. However, historically, some of the best technology was implemented before we truly understood which problem it was solving.

This is much like the farmer of old who believed the only reason to install running water was to put out a fire. Or who waited for a drought to install an irrigation system. Sure, running water can put out fires. Yes, it can also stave off drought. But in agriculture, controlled irrigation can catalyze and exponentially accelerate growth.

In this digital era, technology can solve many problems. But business owners should not stop paying attention to the viral growth that technology might be able to bring to their businesses. Remember, Netflix began as a company that shipped people movies through snail mail. Where would they be now if they had only seen technology as a problem solver rather than as a vehicle for growth?

Some of the best forms of technology solve problems for business owners that they do not know they have. And these are often problems that are not fully realised until the technology is implemented, with the benefit of hindsight.

Best practices for business owners should dictate that there is someone within the business responsible for assessing new forms of technology. This person would have a broad operational understanding of the business coupled with the willingness to comprehend the technology and its potential application.

So rather than a technology implementation strategy that is a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ checkbox to the question of whether it’s ‘solving a problem,’ a best practice checklist for assessing technology should be developed around a more focused framework asking the following questions.

– Is the technology and its company well-founded and funded?

–   What are the parts of your business operation that are impacted by the implementation of this technology?

–   Does it replace any existing technology within your business?

–   Will it offer your business any additional growth opportunities?

–   Does it improve the operational efficiency of your staff?

–   Is there a benefit to your consumers or their experience?

–   What is the cost in time and productivity to implement this technology?

–   Does the ongoing cost of this technology match the expectation for enhanced growth, improved efficiency or improved experience across the business?

–   What is the anticipated return on investment?

Most new forms of technology can be assessed within one to two hours of making a shortlist, meaning they can be discarded as not beneficial or referred up the chain of management to a decision-maker if they successfully pass this checklist.

Instead of only looking at technology as a vehicle to solve a problem in your business, don’t forget to ask how new technology can also help your company grow and prosper. Even in a small business, it is possible to implement this strategy and therefore afford yourself and your business every possible opportunity to accelerate to a higher level using technology.


By Peter Schravemede