Ask the Expert is a blog series dedicated to answering your questions regarding entrepreneurship in the digital age.
With technological advances happening at a faster pace every day, businesses need to dedicate more time to researching technological advances that can be used for their company. Even the simple choice of switching to a new project management software can increase productivity by significant margins, making the participation of leadership in companies to chase down what technology to use all the more critical.
What’s more, organizations that embrace technology are typically favored in the eyes of clientele, unless the business model exists for reasons that conflict with the use of technology (e.g. a nature retreat and tour service). Companies that prefer to stick with the “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” mentality with technology become laggards and customers can – and will – interpret this as refusal to keep up with the times.
How can businesses stay current in the changing technological landscape?
Businesses that have a CTO (Chief Tech Officer) or a CEO that is willing to spend an appropriate amount of time researching developments in software and hardware that can benefit the company will have a competitive advantage, but that doesn’t mean that companies lacking these roles have no options.
One obvious option is to hire a consultant to step in temporarily or on a regular periodic basis. A consultant can ask questions about the current production and delivery methods of a company to ascertain what, if any, technology will be beneficial for the operation. Ideally, someone in this consulting role has both extensive knowledge of the industry and of the most current applicable technologies.
Another method businesses can use is subscribing to blogs and resources on the subject of technology and how it applies to their industry. It’s not critical that the leadership know exactly what is happening with everything, just that they keep their finger on the pulse of what the new developments and trends are. Often, just catching wind that many of their competitors are switching gears to a new software or equipment is enough to indicate what the right moves might be.
How can businesses that are having trouble embracing new technology continue to stay relevant?
There is no excuse for lagging behind. Every advance that a competitor makes will make hanging onto your market share of business that much more difficult for you. The goal is to work smart, not hard. While working hard might be admirable, making it look easy is much more respectable.
It’s important to do what you love to do, so if staying up to date on the latest advances isn’t really your thing, it’s time to consider a consultant or asking around in your organization if someone else would like the responsibility. Sometimes, you might find that you already have it covered, but you just haven’t indicated to your staff that it was a priority. Let them know so they can help you. If you don’t have staff, consider a close friend or a professional service.
Which recent changes or advances in technology have been most influential for businesses?
The hot topic lately has been big data, but that might not be the most recent influential change in business. Google Apps is amazing for small businesses who are looking to have a one-stop shop for email services and cloud collaboration. Zapier is pretty amazing because it allows even non-programmers to connect different web applications together. Applications like Paypal and Braintree have made it a lot easier for businesses to transition to online sales.
Really though, the Internet of Things (IoT), which is the growing collection and connecting of everything being wired into the internet, will soon be the biggest tech advantage and boon to business owners. It will be a lot easier, and a lot more efficient, to run operations without the dissonance or clumsy integrations between technology that’s used across production.
Some website builders have come a long way too, allowing for a small business owner to spring up a website relatively quickly. However, they’re still not all that flexible, and often very limited when it comes to integrations and exact execution, still leaving a space for web development agencies. Not to mention that, again, without the right guidance from an expert it’s difficult to know if a company is taking full advantage of the technology they’re diving into.
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