What Digital Tools Are Needed to Weather a Tough Economy?

By John Taylor on January 27, 2023

As a proud new member of the Forbes Technology Council, I recently had the opportunity to  write an article about the digital tools sorely needed during a challenging economy. After a few years of surging tech spend spawned by the pandemic, organizations are now sobering up. They’re beginning to focus only on the essential digital tools that can help them cut costs, boost productivity and efficiency. Everything is considered against those core requirements.

IT buyers and business leaders need to ask themselves the tough questions before investing in technology:

Will it help us work more efficiently? One measurement of the value of tech spend will be its ability to increase efficiency in order to help companies work leaner and with less resources.

Will it boost productivity? Tools that enable manufacturers to produce more goods and get them out into the market in less time will be vital. Yet, quality must be maintained consistently as productivity increases.

What is the ROI? Companies will be closely analyzing their ROI on a regular basis, and software vendors will need to be able to clearly demonstrate the value of their solutions.

Will it help us mitigate risk? At a time when companies are just trying to weather the storm, they must remain vigilant about risk.  Product defects and recalls, noncompliance, safety and other issues all represent significant risk, so solutions that can best reduce risk will remain a priority.

Yet the million-dollar question is, what are those technologies?

Cloud-native systems.  Cloud-based solutions will continue to be essential, enabling greater productivity and access from anywhere, with fewer IT resources.

AI and machine learning. AI can boost productivity by helping companies identify product defects, monitor sites for safety incidents, predict the future by analyzing historical data and automate routine tasks in order to do more with less staff.

Quality Management Systems. When companies try to be leaner and more productive, quality can be impacted. An advanced QMS software can serve as a single source of truth for quality across the enterprise, providing a comprehensive view of an organization from product design, through supplier quality management, to shop floor quality-control integration, logistics, distribution and customer feedback.

Supplier management tools.  One of the biggest issues of the pandemic that continues today is supply chain disruption. Integrated solutions that enable suppliers and buyers to more easily communicate, share information and anticipate supply and demand will continue to be essential workers well into the future.

But as I shared in Forbes, carefully discerning the essential technologies is only one part of the equation. Once that is accomplished, how do you go about implementing them?

Eliminate redundancies and consolidate systems. Many organizations don’t even realize they’re running systems that perform the same function. Consolidating systems can reduce IT costs and improve data consistency and visibility and improve the return on investment (ROI).

Ensure processes are comprehensive. Digital transformation initiatives touch all phases of the product life cycle and require collaboration by cross-functional teams. It’s important to align business processes to best leverage digital tools enterprise-wide.

Integrate enterprise systems for greater operational effectiveness. Enterprise systems, such as a CRM or ERP, play a pivotal role in automating business functions and enabling informed decision-making. New solutions that can integrate with those enterprise systems can augment their value and provide an attractive ROI.

Make sure you are leveraging your data. Integrated solutions that perform critical functions in an organization require relevant and current data in order to be most effective. Companies should make sure that they have their data house in order.

Technology is the key to keeping vital businesses resilient during a challenging time, but it’s being more carefully scrutinized  – and rightly so. Asking the tough questions and putting tech investments to the test can help companies weather the storm and come out all the stronger.