How tech debt affects your business right now 

Tech debt is the business killer you know is lurking in the shadows, even if you’ve never given it a name. The longer you’ve been in operation, the more exposed you may be. Tech debt can frustrate employees and customers alike, and that can burn your organization slowly out of relevance.  

What is tech debt?

First things first: What is tech debt? In simple terms, it’s any technology paradigm that is getting long in the tooth and holding your business back from realizing its full growth potential. Tech debt affects your business in two ways: 

Customer-Facing Tech Debt

How easy is it to do business with your company? Customer-facing tech debt can cost you business and you may not even know it’s happening. I’ll give you a personal example.  

One of my favorite places to shop is Lowes for my hardware and renovation needs. If I have to return an item (this happens often as I’m not the handiest person and usually over-buy for projects), I’m able to do so without a receipt. I simply insert the card I paid with, and their systems magically pull up the transaction, no matter how long ago I made it. Other hardware stores that require receipts for refunds or returns because they’re operating on older systems? I no longer shop with them. The tech debt they’re carrying keeps them from delivering the buying experience I now expect. 

In the technology services world, tech debt is usually felt in “on prem” systems for things that have already successfully moved to the cloud. More and more customers are looking to release themselves from the “Tyranny of the Box” and are eager to move what they can into the cloud. Tigerpaw has been around for 39 years, and our business automation platform used to be strictly an on-prem offering. We worked feverishly on Tigerpaw Unleashed which is a cloud-based platform, not because it was a cool thing to do, but because that is the direction things had to go to better serve our customers. Now customers have an option, and more and more are moving to the Unleashed platform. 

Look around your own organization: What kind of experience do you offer your customers? What tools are required for your team to interact with them? Are there more modern and nimble alternatives? Are there competitors entering the market that are doing things differently?  Technology offerings and toolsets are evolving faster than ever and thinking about your own tech debt (and how to shed it) will be critical in keeping your customers happy and loyal. Keeping an eye on the competition and actively pursuing knowledge about technology changes and opportunities are key to reducing your tech debt. 

Internal Tech Debt

Tech debt can have a huge impact on how efficiently you run your business. My wife is a retailer, and the POS (Point of Sale) system she uses does a lot more than just enable purchases and other transactions. It ties into her eCommerce site to ensure that if she sells an item in her physical store, it comes out of inventory in the online one as well. She knows other small retailers that are still trying to do inventory management between their brick and mortar and virtual storefronts manually, and it’s something she could never go back to. She now has more time to better service her customers. In retail, especially with the dominance of Amazon and other marketplaces, customers demand simplicity and flexibility in their shopping experience. 

So what about in the technology services world? Any manual processes you employ to run your business are good candidates to start with. Even if you are using business automation software, when systems don’t integrate, you’re still looking at a lot of manual work. Your CRM, accounting package, technician tracking, service ticketing, and remote monitoring tools should all work together seamlessly. Better yet, look for one platform that does everything listed above natively. If you must do imports or run manual reports to have full visibility, that is tech debt at its worst.   

Time is the only resource you have that you can’t scale, so the more time you free up by using business automation to its fullest, the more time you have to service your existing customers better and to develop new customers too. 

Why tech debt is important today

The pandemic accelerated the need to shed tech debt. More and more knowledge workers are working remotely, and this reality isn’t going away. If you must have employees “remote in” to desktops in the office, if your customers feel you can only support their main corporate offices, tech debt will negatively impact your business success more than ever. It’s one thing to manage assets like servers and desktops in one corporate location, but how about 50, 100, or 1,000 homes? Cloud access and alternatives are fast becoming much more attractive, right? 

Lots of things to think about, but the health of your business and the experience you deliver to your customers is why you do what you do. Change is never easy, but in 2022 and beyond, the speed at which we must adapt is more critical than ever in our history. 

Shedding tech debt specific to how your technicians work every day can have a huge impact on utilization and profit levels. You can access our free Technician Utilization Calculator HERE to understand how much impact this can have for your business. Knowledge is power and shining a light on ALL areas where tech debt could be adversely affecting your business always makes good sense.