Prediction articles often look at the rise of new technology and paint a rosy picture of how it will change the entire landscape.

This isn't one of them.

While businesses sometimes convince themselves that shopping can make things better, we don’t need new tools. We need to learn how to use the ones we have.

So Many Features to Choose From

If your company has acquired a system in the last three years — for the web, marketing or enterprise — it likely contains features you're unaware of, much less used. While a demo of the product may get you excited about new features, you probably left the demo and returned to your normal work routine. 

This is normal. Most products come with features that only the most mature organizations have had time to learn. Many features speak to edge cases that go undiscovered until your project's goals are met. Once a product's main features are set, vendors continue to add more to surpass its competitors to claim the title of most comprehensive product.

Feature overload can negatively impact the functionality of the core feature-set, but it can also benefit organizations that are looking to do more.

Which is everyone.

Potential 2016 Projects

Look at the original plans for your system. Have you met all of the goals? Automated every process? Are there still unfulfilled dreams from that original project scope? 

If so, don’t worry about the extra features. Spend 2016 working to make those ideas a reality. You have the tool, now make it happen.

If you want to build on the initial vision, there's a large swath of data you’ve been collecting, intentionally or not, that needs to be analyzed. If you already looked at the data, learn the "why" behind the numbers. Those running a website should get to know every nook and cranny of Google Analytics — you have a lot of learning ahead of you.

Are your systems connected to automatically exchange information? Or are you exporting to spreadsheets or constantly performing manual updates? Odds are, a lot of manual processes are standing between you and getting real work done.

I don't think I've ever met an organization with fully automated routine processes. Perhaps because most organizations contact me because they need help with something, which typically means there are a lot of manual processes. Look if the system has an underutilized API that could hook into another system to automate the flow of information through the organization. By mapping where data needs to flow and automating that, you save time and make better decisions.

And If You’re Stuck …

Old systems with very few features can be upgraded to one with "new" features — provided they aren't too heavily customized. If your system is too customized for an upgrade, aside from learning to not do that again, find an add-on product that increases the value of your current system.

If you are stuck on an old system, think about moving. Even then, don’t sweat the shiny new features. Make sure that it can execute on your core mission, has a solid API, is easy for people to use, and has a vendor behind it who has a vision for the future. By the time you have implemented all the core components, and migrated the necessary information, there will be plenty of features to learn and play with.

Barring the introduction of holographic displays, no new tech is likely going to change our world. Simply learning how to take full advantage of the technology we already have is all you need to have a successful 2016.

And you can take that prediction to the bank.

Title image by ahmadreza sajadi