4 must-make tech purchases for 2018

Invest for the future

The great business owners I know share one common characteristic: they are always looking ahead. They invest for the future. They spend money now because it will benefit their companies later. There is no better example of this than investing in technology. Everyone spends money on technology, and there are many ways that executives can make this outlay. To that end, we’re advising our clients to make these four tech purchases in 2018.

Customer relationship management (CRM)

A CRM platform is nothing more than a database. But it stands out among tech purchases because it can add a significant amount of value to your business. How?

Because in your CRM database, you’re keeping information about everyone who comes in contact with your business — customers, prospects, partners, vendors, suppliers and anyone else who you “touch.”

When a CRM is implemented the right way (which is easier said than done!) you’ll find that things stop falling through the cracks. Everyone has follow-ups. Your team is sharing notes and information. More importantly, you’ll be creating something else, something big: a very valuable yet intangible asset.

Over the past few years I have had many clients who sold their businesses or brought on equity partners who in turn paid them additionally because they had strong CRM systems. That’s because it’s a big data world — and people will pay for data.

CRM costs can range anywhere from free to hundreds of dollars per month. Some of the leaders include Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Zoho and ProsperWorks.

Tech Purchases Salesforce

Video

The internet is now video. Sure, many of us watch stuff on Netflix and Amazon. But providing video content has become a primary 2018 strategy for many marketers and executives of companies, big and small. Why?

It’s mostly being driven by demographics: the millennial generation — those born around the year 2000 and who make up more than 50 percent of today’s workforce — enjoy consuming content via video and from just about any device imaginable.

Videos need to be short and educational.

 

Done right, they’re one of the smartest tech purchases you can make. They can show your company in a very positive light and not only give prospective customers but prospective employees a great look into your culture and value system.

Consider doing a video once or twice a month. It could be for training or certification. You can interview managers in your company to share best practices, or ask your CEO to share industry trends. Or you can interview customers or other influencers in your community, who can share their advice.

Is it free?

No. The major video platforms include Facebook Live, YouTube, Twitter and Google Hangouts on Air. While these platforms are free, the time it takes to put together professional videos is not. To make these tech purchases worhtwhile, you will need to hire experienced people — or at least bring on a good marketing intern from a local university.

Security

Tech Purchases Security

The biggest security threat in 2018 for businesses is ransomware. Ransomware is one of the very first types of malware where the malware-makers can actually get money. Simply by inadvertently downloading a file or browsing to a bad website, your entire network — both in house and potentially in the cloud — could be locked up by a virus. The only way to get your files back is to buy an encryption key (usually at a cost of about $100, payable in bitcoin or some other digital currency).

Some experts say the ransomware industry has grown to multiple billions of dollars. A few ransomware hackers actually provide a toll-free customer number for those who have been targeted — and no I am not kidding.

How can protect your business against this threat? Make security-related tech purchases.

Get a quality security product like GoDaddy Website Security, powered by Sucuri. Get your people trained. And subscribe to an online backup service, so if you’re ever brought down by a ransomware attack you can just restore from your last good backup.

Sure, you might lose a few hours or a day of work, but that’s much better than paying the ransom — and potentially subjecting yourself to future attacks.

SEO

Search engine optimization — or SEO — continues to stand out among tech purchases for most companies who rely on their internet presence to not only sell goods online but to gather leads.

SEO is a specialty. The rules frequently change. The strategies continue to evolve.

I, like most of my clients, am ill-equipped to keep up to date with everything that an SEO professional needs to know to ensure that my site continuingly appears high on the list of search results for Google, Yahoo and Bing.

The smartest executives I know outsource this function to companies that better know how to do SEO, and who will take responsibility for updating keywords, meta tags, links and jargon on their clients’ sites to keep them ranking high in search results.

Companies like GoDaddy have gone well beyond just hosting websites, recognizing the need for their customers’ sites to be active, informative, educational and up to date with the best SEO criteria in order to be effective.

Final thoughts on tech purchases

So be like those successful executives I know and always look ahead. Invest in good tech purchases to grow your business. These four technologies are the hottest in my book. I believe they should be at the top of your list, too.


Also published on Medium.

Image by: Christopher Burns on Unsplash

Gene Marks
Gene Marks writes a daily column for the Washington Post on business and public policy. He also writes weekly for Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc. Magazine, and periodically for The Huffington Post and Foxbusiness.com. Gene also regularly appears on Fox News, MSNBC, Sirius XM Radio and ABC radio. His work reaches hundreds of thousands of business owners and executives each week. Gene is a Certified Public Accountant and runs the Marks Group PC - a 10-person technology and management consulting firm located near Philadelphia. He spent nine years with the international firm KPMG, most recently as Senior Manager. Gene speaks frequently to business groups so they can better understand the trends affecting their businesses and - most importantly - the actions they should take to continue to grow and profit. http://www.genemarks.com/