We're surrounded by technology every waking moment of our lives, and it seems that a solution has emerged for every problem -- both real and imagined. With so much media coverage of the latest tech and the bombardment of messages about which solutions we need, it can be hard to separate the technologies that have real potential from those that are just hype.

While you can try to ignore new technology in your personal life, that's not an option in business. A study from CB Insights found that 19% of startups failed because they were outcompeted, and the right tech can offer a huge competitive advantage. To help you decide what tech you need, consider how technology can optimize your operations in three important ways.

1. Enhancing team onboarding

Onboarding is critical, but it's a ball that many companies continue to drop. As indicated in Gallup's most recent "State of the American Workplace" report, only 12% of respondents say their companies do a great job of bringing new hires on board. The good news is that tech can help change a mediocre onboarding experience into one that sets a new employee up for success.

Reach for any number of available apps to solve onboarding issues. Rippling, for example, adds new employees to all of the company's existing apps such as Slack and Gmail, ensuring that these new workers aren't left out of the loop. It also integrates with your company's current HR systems. In addition, apps like BambooHR allow employees to get a head start so their first day isn't consumed by filling out mountains of paperwork. Tech can also help introduce your new hires members to their teammates before they even arrive at work, which is a feature in apps such as Appical. According to one study, 30% of new hires will leave a job within 90 days. Buck that statistic and save your company money with an onboarding process that's memorable for being clear and smooth.

2. Boosting productivity

There are only 24 hours in each day. Help your employees earn some of them back by automating the mundane and repetitive tasks that they enjoy the least. Automation tools accomplish the same processes with much greater speed and accuracy, freeing your employees to tackle bigger problems that demand their experience and critical thinking. In fact, a 2017 McKinsey report discovered that a majority of occupations could automate at least 30% of their activities.

AI virtual assistants are one automation option. Siri offers convenience, but tools such as X.ai take functionality further. By CCing an AI assistant in email conversations, employees can automatically add events to their schedules, whether it's on Slack, a webpage, or a calendar app. The time saved will add up fast. Given that the average worker spends around six weeks out of each year scheduling meetings, eliminating friction in just this single area can drive major improvements in productivity.  

3. Super-charging remote work

Much has been said about the current talent shortage -- in April 2019, job vacancies in the U.S. outnumbered unemployed workers by 1.6 million. In such a tight labor market, where employees can job-hop their way to better opportunities and bigger salaries, anything you can offer to attract talent or retain it is a powerful advantage. Remote work accomplishes both goals by allowing your organization to tap into a global talent pool and appeal to workers' growing desire for work-life balance.

The 5G revolution is about to send the remote work trend into overdrive, argues Marc Fischer, CEO, and co-founder of mobile technology studio Dogtown Media: "Low-latency, high-frequency data transfers will make engineering and many other types of highly skilled work possible from anywhere with a decent connection." If you don't believe it, consider the Spanish surgeon who supervised an operation remotely over a 5G video link. Your business's day-to-day operations probably aren't quite as complex as the removal of a cancerous tumor, but if working remotely is possible for doctors, it's possible for your employees, too.

Technology can accomplish incredible things, but only if it's implemented in your business in intelligent ways. Chasing the latest tech can cost a fortune and lead to unrealized returns, but eschewing technological advances in favor of manual processes is often even worse, as competitors race past you armed with more efficient processes. In order to stay current and stay competitive, look to the tech that can help you accomplish these three key goals.