When an industry relies on technology that isn’t up to snuff, it leads to a slew of issues. Of course, some of those problems are technical in nature. You might see equipment that breaks down or malfunctions frequently. Employees could also deal with disjointed or poor-quality data. However, subpar technology also causes non-technical issues that can impact a company’s performance.
When low-quality tech exists in an organization, it becomes an underperforming system that can’t keep up with demands. Operations might be too slow or unmanageable, turning customers away and causing employees to lose motivation. Also, antiquated technology often contributes to outdated or makeshift processes that block innovation, progress, and productivity.
If you’re in an industry plagued by low-quality technology, it doesn’t need to stay that way. But it’s up to leaders and decision-makers throughout an organization to implement new and up-to-date solutions. Here are three industries impacted by substandard technology and what leaders can do to make improvements.
1. K-12 Public Education
Public schools depend on state and federal tax dollars. Funding for many school districts is tied to enrollment numbers, local property taxes, and high-stakes testing results. Sometimes mill levy overrides or MLOs can supplement and raise property taxes to fund special projects like new school buildings. MLOs are put on local ballots for taxpayers to vote on and usually sunset after so many years.
But despite property taxes and MLOs, public schools can remain underfunded. Districts and educators depend on technology to teach and administer mandated high-stakes testing. Everything from laptops and tablets to interactive whiteboards uses Wi-Fi and internet connections to deliver curriculums. However, spending on IT resources usually represents a small fraction of a school district’s budget.
Funding issues and low budgets mean school districts often try to overextend existing technology and IT resources. Wi-Fi systems and infrastructure often can’t handle the demands high-stakes testing requires. As more students log on to take assessments, laptops and tablets randomly disconnect or the testing software stops loading. Educators have to stagger testing sessions or try to use a limited number of Ethernet connections. This leads to delays, disruptions, and frustrations.
Adaptive, cloud-based Wi-Fi connectivity could be a viable solution to conventional systems that don’t always balance bandwidth between access points. Network technicians won’t have to spend hours testing which access points in a school building can handle so many connections. Instead, adaptive Wi-Fi systems will respond and adjust to increased demand. More signal strength and bandwidth will go to the classrooms that need it the most.
Since telecommunications providers build and use technology to deliver services, people may assume it’s top-notch. However, telecom is an industry that’s been around for a while. The first systems and infrastructure came about in the 1800s. While advances and improvements have been made since then, older infrastructure still exists. It takes telecom companies time to replace outdated equipment, and providers may rely on it until it breaks.
Telecommunications providers, including cellular carriers, may also rely on low-quality tech because it’s cost-effective. In a hypercompetitive industry, saving money on infrastructure can positively contribute to razor-thin profit margins. Nevertheless, the most cost-effective equipment may not deliver the best results. Choosing this route can lead to future disruptions that impact employees and customers.
For example, U.S. government concerns over cell tower equipment from specific manufacturers have led to new legislation. Rural and regional telecom providers that use this equipment must now replace it. While government funding is helping regional carriers do this, it’s an inconvenient process. The replacement process can disrupt subscribers’ service and require extensive paperwork to receive government reimbursement.
In addition, coordination between several internal departments and outside vendors is necessary. When this coordination doesn’t run smoothly, extended or unexpected service outages can frustrate customers and staff. This, in turn, negatively affects brand reputation and sales. The solution may be to evaluate infrastructure choices on more than what looks good for the bottom line. Another answer involves assessing new tech options and performing proactive upgrades.
3. Real Estate
Buying and selling property requires a lot of paperwork. A plethora of information about transactions also flows between real estate agents, lenders, and title companies. For buyers and sellers, it seems like there’s always another form to sign. This also means buyers and sellers have to check every detail to ensure something wasn’t left out and everything’s correct.
It’s not uncommon for hiccups to happen, especially when the title company has to wait for information from a lender. Some tech advances, such as electronic document signing, make real estate transactions smoother. However, coordination between everyone involved is still lacking because of low-quality technology. Agents, lenders, title companies, and HOAs can all use separate platforms and systems.
What this means for all parties involved is the potential for duplication and the exchange of bad information. This can slow down real estate transactions and delay closings. In some cases, it may even lead to enough inconvenience that a buyer or seller backs out of the deal.
Centralized platforms where all parties can exchange and work with information are viable solutions. Sellers and buyers can review and sign documents without always having to relay questions and concerns through agents. Problems can go right to the source, expediting corrections and preventing miscommunications. Everyone can also monitor progress and address potential issues before they become paperwork mistakes.
Upgrading Low-Quality Tech
Industries are made up of people who are creatures of habit. Processes and the use of resources, including technology, can grow stagnant as a result. The perspectives of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” or “it’s always been done this way” may impede progress. However, continuing to rely on low-quality tech leads to low-quality operations. Upgrading and improving subpar technology starts with leaders willing to challenge the industry status quos that enable it.