Technology drives businesses. While that fact might lead us to believe that we need every technology out there, our budget may not necessarily agree.

Nevertheless, there may be places in your business that aren’t as efficient as they could be. These are costing you more in time and resources. Instead of living with these inefficiencies, you could be investing in technology that modernizes your processes. Your business could achieve significant ROI in exchange for those updates.

According to Bernard Fraenkel, practice manager and VP of engineering for Silicon Valley Software Group and an expert in technology modernization, “Company founders often refer to their companies, or their products, as their ‘baby.’ In the way that one parents a child differently at different stages of development, technology and methodology must evolve as the company/product grows from its early stages, to market launch, to hyper-growth mode.”

With that philosophy in mind, here are five must-have updates that your technology stack needs for your business to thrive, both in the year ahead and beyond:

  1. Cloud Services

Perhaps you’ve already added some type of cloud service, but you can’t say you’ve implemented cloud if you’ve just signed up for Dropbox. That’s a start, but it is not modernizing your technology by any means. Beyond cloud storage, you want to think of other ways that you can take advantage of the technology. Think of cloud as a way to work from anywhere. Plus, it will let you collaborate in a very efficient way.

That means looking at every aspect of your business to see where cloud services could be incorporated. While Dropbox is great for storage, think of other cloud applications. That’s because this technology works for communication, project management, disaster planning and business continuity, logistics, inventory, and the entire supply chain. Cloud services can also help with CRM, marketing and sales, and even IT. In addition, cloud services can enable you to scale up in a cost-effective way.

  1. Remote Access

If you have started adding remote workers (e.g., freelance staff) or are considering it, then it’s important to add remote access technology. This technology provides a way to securely open your network so those working away from your office can access the information they need. After all, you don’t want them using public WiFi, as its lack of security can put your proprietary information at risk.

Consider a virtual private network, which is more affordable than other types of access technology, such as constructing your own intranet. Plus, it offers greater scalability, security, and flexibility to expand your reach and team size when you need to do that.

  1. Security

Security is one of the most important ongoing technology investments that you will need to make. This doesn’t require you to build out an IT security team, which is most likely not in your budget. Instead, you can seek out a security consultant who can assess your current security technology and provide a framework for what you need to have in order to ensure compliance as well as address any vulnerabilities that are detected. This may include recommendations on how to beat hackers at their own game. It may also require investments in antivirus protection, security training and certification, and emerging technology such as biometrics if that fits your organization.

  1. Automation

Automating as much of your business as possible is worth every penny of the investment you might make. That’s because you’ll see the technology doing the time-intensive tasks that eat into your labor budget. Plus, you’ll be able to take on more business and maintain efficiency because an automated process — unlike its manual counterpart — never reaches a point where it cannot operate.

You may even want to consider software that incorporates artificial intelligence so you can expand the range of what can be automated. Doing so will help you automate more areas, such as technical support and customer service.

For example, just in marketing alone, you can automate email campaigns, social media posts, landing page development, advertising, and analytics. You’ll experience a considerable return on that investment almost immediately in terms of efficiency and cost savings.

  1. Blockchain

Although blockchain serves as the foundation of Bitcoin, it is not the same thing as that cryptocurrency. The technology can do so much more, enabling revolutionary changes to numerous processes across an organization and a wide range of industries. Blockchain offers a way to authenticate, track, and secure any type of financial or non-financial transaction. It can help improve identity verification and can secure contracts plus any data stored in the cloud. Everything from government agencies and healthcare facilities to manufacturing companies and multi-firm supply chains can benefit from it.

Thoughtful Investments Spur Development

Having an evolutionary philosophy is central to making the best technology investments and driving continual improvement as your business expands and the environment around you changes. By making thoughtful technology investments linked to specific improvement goals, you’ll find that your investments in technology pay off in more ways than one, whether you are a consumer-facing organization or a B2B enterprise.

Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. You can reach me at brad at readwrite.com