Digitally Enhanced

Digitally Enhanced

11.11.2016 The best time to buy technology: Weekender Digitally Enhanced Column 25

When I was growing up I used to enjoy spending time with my Dad attending race meetings at the Dubbo Greyhound Racing Club. Dad spent many years as President of the Club and so I often tagged along to help out. While at the meetings, I would grab a race book and try and pick a few winners and Dad would give me a dollar to put a bet on a dog. I am sure the bookies loved to see me coming because I was drawn to the dogs with big odds. I found it fascinating that I could hand someone one dollar and in return I might receive fifty dollars or more. As logic would dictate, I don’t remember many of my bets on long-priced dogs ever coming to fruition and when complaining to Dad one day, he made the simple statement. “A short-priced winner is better than a long-priced loser.”

I thought of that statement recently when I was asked the most common question that I have been asked in my twenty-seven years of selling technology. “Should I buy widget X now or wait until widget Y comes out at some indefinite point in the future?” Rephrasing my Dad’s words, the best technology to buy is the technology that is currently available. Sure, there will be something better that hits the market at some indefinite point in the future and there will be advantages to the new product. The business models of technology companies rely on the fact that they will keep innovating and improving so they can keep selling more products. Will the advantages be worth it? I hope so and history has proven that mostly they are. The real question though is whether you should put your needs on hold while you wait for that next big thing.

If you do, then you will never make a purchase. As soon as that next version comes out, there will be another ‘next version’ in the pipeline. And another and another. This doesn’t just apply to technology – this applies to all products. Cars; clothing; furniture… You name it and there will be a manufacturer working out ways to improve what they have and bring out a new version to keep selling their product.

Now that we have established that you shouldn’t put your life on hold and wait for the next big thing to arrive, the real question is to decide when you should upgrade your technology. Your decision should be based on one of two items. Desire or productivity. If you want a new feature offered by technology that is currently available, and you can justify the cost, then don’t wait. The sooner you make the purchase then the sooner you can start using that new feature. That might be the features of a new camera or the battery life of a new notebook or the charging option on a new phone. It might just be that you like the look of it. It is your money and if it gives you pleasure to buy the latest device, don’t hold back.

The second reason you should upgrade, and the most common business reason, is productivity. Time is the most valuable resource we have and one of the advantages of new technology is that it gives us the ability to be more efficient and do more in less time. This can be as simple as a faster processor on a new computer or it could be new features that make us more efficient in the time we take to perform the same functions or perform the same outcomes using new features. Go back many years and think of the introduction of the facsimile machine (or fax machine). It was 1964 when Xerox introduced and patented the first commercial fax machine (under the name of Long Distance Xerography). Their next model, introduced in 1964, was closer to what we consider a normal fax machine. It was called the Magnafax Telecopier and weighed a massive 21kg. It could be connected to any standard telephone line and could transmit a one-page document in ‘only’ six minutes. Fast forward to the late seventies, and fax machines were replacing the postal service. Sending a letter would take days compared to sending a fax in minutes. E-mail was introduced and now the minutes was reduced to seconds. These productivity gains are the main driver of technology purchases and it makes it much easier to justify the expense of a technology upgrade. When the first fax machines were introduced, I am sure many people said they were going to wait until the quality was better or the machines weighed less or the transmission was quicker. All of those things did happen but meanwhile the early adopters were taking advantage of the technology that was available at the time.

We always want better and we never want to waste our money so the simple answer to when should I upgrade my technology is today! The best technology in the world is the technology I can use rather than the technology that I can only dream about.

Mathew Dickerson