14 Tech Investments That Might Not Be Worth It In The Long Run

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With the continued rise of AI technology and automation efforts, businesses may feel pressured to invest in the next “big” tech thing. It’s easy for companies to overestimate their system capabilities or dive head-first into “cutting-edge” technology without considering the possible downsides—including future obsolescence.

Business leaders need to choose carefully and put their resources into tech tools that will support their long-term growth—if they’re simply investing in tech for tech’s sake, they may see little to no ROI on what can be big-ticket purchases. To help your business make the best use of its tech tools and services budget, below 14 Forbes Technology Council members weigh in on tech investments they believe could soon be rendered obsolete.

1. Hardware-Based Multifactor Authentication

Hardware-based multifactor authentication is experiencing a very short usable life cycle. Access badges or USB keys to authenticate users are still being sold while better solutions are already on the market. The push to biometrics or behavior-based authentication will leave the hardware MFA devices in the dust before they ever reach their prime use. – Dick Wilkinson, New Mexico Supreme Court

2. Multi-Touch Attribution

For years, marketers have sunk a lot into technologies such as multi-touch attribution, expecting to connect ad performance directly to sales—only to be disappointed by costly, cumbersome implementations that don’t quite deliver the insight promised. Marketers should look past bloated, complex solutions to find effective, efficient, privacy-compliant measurement tools that provide usable data. – Madan Bharadwaj, Measured, Inc.

3. Device Reputation Technology

Though device reputation and biometric authentication technologies are innovative, relying primarily on this tech guarantees system vulnerabilities and obsolescence as wily fraudsters have already exploited weaknesses and adapted to these new systems. Fraud and authentication systems must triangulate online, offline and device-based data to have a clear signal of the individual behind a device. – Robert McKay, Neustar, Inc.

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4. Premature Artificial Intelligence Investments

Don’t invest heavily in AI without considering systems and data architectures first. You’ll need to support machine learning such as computational power, storage and fast data retrieval and processing. – Julian Dean Morais

5. ‘Discover, Classify, Protect’ Security

Companies working on a “discover, classify, protect” security implementation are never going to see a positive ROI. The decades-old mindset doesn’t align with the world today. ROI for these projects is measured in years, and the ongoing operational overhead is extremely high. Companies need to look for modern data loss prevention tools that can be deployed in days and have ROI that’s measured in weeks. – Jeff Capone, SecureCircle

6. Resource Management Tools

I see many companies heavily invested in task-tracking and resource-management tools. Some task management is required and helpful, but most of these tools add an extra burden. We need tech that makes life easier, not just bogs the company down with more to manage and update. – Derrick Morton, FlowPlay

7. Cloud Migration

Surprisingly, it may be the cloud—specifically, cloud migration. The naive approach of lifting and shifting on-premise workloads to a cloud infrastructure is almost obsolete. A jalopy with new tires is not really any more reliable. The smart approach is to adopt a cloud-first perspective—take advantage of digital transformation. Perhaps the real risk is underinvestment in the cloud. – William Diggin, Accenture


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8. Large-Scale, On-Premises Software

Massive roll-outs of large-scale, on-premises software are a big mistake. Most of the time, you engage big-name consulting firms that take several years to do it, and then once you think you are done, new requirements come up because the business has changed in the amount of time it took you to “build” the system. There are perfectly good ERP SaaS solutions out there that require minimal effort. – Mercedes Soria, Knightscope

9. Office-Based Broadcast Systems

One item to watch for is large investments in office-based broadcast systems. Given the dispersed nature of employees and executives now, those investments likely should be used to build out remote, small-footprint, high-end broadcast and recording capabilities targeted at home offices. – Bob Bruns, Avanade

10. Workplace Modifications

While Covid-19 is still prevalent and things are gradually returning to normal, investments currently made in workplace modifications need to be monitored. Have the basics in place without too much modification, since once the vaccine is prevalent and most people return to the workplace, these modifications might be obsolete. Having safety measures in place is still relevant. – Lydia Miller, TATA consultancy Services

11. Certain Security Investments

I worry that some of the security investments we are making may become obsolete more quickly than we expect due to the continued maturation of quantum computing. A technology with the potential to crack almost every existing encryption scheme in seconds is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night. – Michael Fulton, Expedient

12. Property Technology

PropTech, a technology approach to real estate in which technology optimizes the way people analyze, rent, purchase or sell, and manage a property, is the new shiny kid on the block that many organizations are investing heavily in. While it’s driven by the pandemic (to keep people safe), it may be an over-investment and become irrelevant or obsolete, useful only to real estate’s big players and investors. – Spiros Liolis, Micro Focus

13. Tech That Is Implemented Without The Right Approach

I would propose that it is less about a specific tech investment—whether that’s automation/AI, multi-cloud or something else—and more about the approach. An experience-driven, security-integrated tech investment will maximize its purpose, usefulness and relevancy and defy obsoletion. – Carlos Pignataro, Cisco Systems, Inc.

14. Any Technology That Doesn’t Have A Clear Value Proposition

Rushing into any technology without a clear value proposition for improving the day-in-the-life of users is a risky proposition. An organization can tackle some of the trickiest and highest-risk technology (for example, cutting-edge AI) if they keep the value proposition for the users of the technology first and foremost in mind. – Christopher Lazzaro, Associated Electric Cooperative Inc.