Since CBT just completed voting for the Top of the Town businesses, I thought it would be appropriate to create my own list — of the top five technology mistakes your business is making. I want to start by saying that if you are running a business or working at a business and it’s functioning, that means your current technology hasn’t shut you down. Way to go!

Over my career, I have worked with businesses with one employee and businesses with over 100,000 employees. Each company realized that technology can help them achieve their goals. However, businesses continue to make the same technology mistakes more frequently than they should.

1 – Technology spending based on costs, not needs.

The problem begins by either not having a budget for technology or by having an unrealistic budget. Technology — just like marketing, sales, employees, and every other aspect of your business — is an investment, not a cost. Improper budgeting leads to buying based on costs and not needs. Saving money on a computer or internet connection may seem like a success, but if it robs your business of productivity and reliability, it will end up costing more over time.

This is a big subject, and one that we will discuss next month with research to back up how successful businesses spend on technology.

2 – Investing in the past.

Business owners or decision makers have many responsibilities, including technology investment decisions. Unfortunately, this means technology planning is limited to a sliver of time, and decisions are made with minimal information. This leads to businesses continuing to invest in technology, even when it isn’t the best technology or financial decision. Email servers come to mind, which are typically Microsoft Exchange Servers, which lock you into large upfront and ongoing costs. Today, Office 365, Gmail, and other hosted email solutions provide additional features, improved security, greater uptime, less maintenance, and reduced overall costs when compared to a traditional server.

3 – Putting off security.

Everyone wants security, with threats of Ransomware, viruses, and automated attacks on businesses of all sizes. This year alone, I’ve spoken with multiple customers who have lost data due to poor security. Security adds extra costs and work for your business, but the alternative is liability, reputation damage, and loss of business. These additional security risks have led to regulatory standards being built to protect your customers through fines, penalties, and reduced compensation for your non-compliance.

4 – Losing control of critical technology information.

Businesses struggle to keep up with technology and controlling key information. Make sure this information is controlled by your business.

  • Domain name: Make sure you are the owner of (domain name), which controls locating the website and ensuring you receive email.
  • Data: If you are storing your data with someone else, make sure that you know who owns your data and if you can switch storage with reasonable cost and effort.
  • Licensing: Even if you buy software through a reseller, make sure you have copies of any and all licenses.
  • Documentation: Someone at your business should have a copy of the inventory of investments you have made in technology and a diagram of how it has been implemented.

5 – Untested data recovery.

In the technology world, failure is imminent and inevitable. Companies should plan for this inevitability, but they often assume they won’t have a failure that damages their business. Many things can cause failure, including hardware, security breaches, and human error, to name a few. Even knowing this information, most companies don’t properly create a backup and disaster recovery or business continuity plans. Or, even worse, they have them and don’t implement them. I wrote about this subject back in March. Make sure you review and see if you are planning for disasters to ensure success.

Wrapping up, the good news is that you aren’t alone if you have made these mistakes. Avoiding these mistakes, or correcting them, will benefit your business with reliability, productivity gains, and happier employees, improving your bottom line. If you are still feeling lost, find a trusted technology advisor to guide you. The costs of this consultation will pay for itself several times over.