5 Tech Truths Businesses Must Embrace
Changes in technology are shaping the way we do business today and will shape the future as well.
Articles published June 25, 2019 by Rob Griffith
There's no denying that technology is changing rapidly and those changes will continue to affect the way you operate. Evolving your tech strategy will keep your business nimble and running efficiently. An excellent article from the Microsoft Business Blog presents four important tech trends businesses ought to consider. And based on a shift in purchasing strategy that continues to increase in popularity, we've also added a fifth truth.
Truth #1: Customer expectations are changing.
In 2018, there were more than 30.2 million small businesses in the U.S., making up 99 percent of all businesses. As if that were not enough, there is the now-interconnected global marketplace to contend with.
That’s a lot of competition.
What then is the best way to deal with customers when they have so many options? As discussed by US SMB VP Cindy Bates, “More than ever before, customers want to interact digitally with businesses in the same way as they do with friends and family; through social media and mobile devices.”
Think about it. How do customers – you and me included – interact with a business these days? Often it is not:
- Walk in a store.
- Log on.
- Check out Facebook.
- Compare prices online.
- Buy via a mobile device.
Insights from Microsoft's 2019 Retail Trends Report underscore the importance of this "shop anywhere" consumer mentality saying, "retailers need to deliver a consistent shopping experience across every channel—from social media to smart speakers—plus flexible fulfillment options to truly deliver the ability for customers to shop on their terms, wherever they are."
This is a seismic shift that affords both challenges and opportunities for your business. The thing to realize – the “truth” – is that customer expectations and behaviors are changing and you need to follow the puck.
Truth #2: Technology can make your business life a whole lot easier.
If you are like a lot of entrepreneurs today, you work with remote teams.
Tools – like Office 365 for example – make working remotely not only easy, but fun and productive. Aside from the usual suspects – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook – Office 365 packs a punch by making remote, real-time online collaboration not, as AI expert Dave Forstrom said, “science fiction, but science fact.” With integrated tools for videoconferencing on Skype and chat-based tools like Teams, Office 365 allows you all to work when, where, and how you want, and that is a trend of major import.
Truth #3: Data is taking the risk out of business.
A wise old entrepreneur once told me, “an entrepreneur is someone who takes a risk with money to make money.” But running a small business is not just a financial risk, it is also a reputational risk and an emotional one too.
The good news is that data is reducing that risk. Indeed, the availability and use of BI – Business Intelligence, aka, “big data” is increasing.
The thing with data is that if you know how to analyze it, it can unlock vast vaults of value. How did that display ad do? What about that e-marketing campaign? How do they compare? What day pulled best? What price worked best? BI can tell you.
Truth #4: The way employees want to work is changing.
Customers are changing, technology is changing, behaviors are changing, expectations are changing, and yes, employees are changing too. The whole landscape of business is changing.
On this last point, employees generally, and millennials specifically, want, nay, expect, to be able to work when, where, and how they want. And they further expect that their employer will give them both the freedom and tools to do so. You need to do that. Today.
Truth #5: Most businesses today want to consume technology through an operational expenditure model.
Most business do not own the building they operate in, they lease it. If businesses have a fleet of vehicles, they are typically leased from a car dealership. So why does it make sense for a company to own computer hardware, software and employ in-house IT admins? The answer is, it probably doesn’t.
When you consider the fact that computer hardware and software depreciates in value faster than a vehicle does, there is little reason for a business to continue making capital expenditures on technology. In addition, the cost to support and maintain an in-house computer infrastructure is expensive and difficult to budget for, and finding the quality talent and manpower to run and maintain that infrastructure is becoming costly and difficult as well.
On the surface, the cloud, SaaS (software as a service), and managed IT services may appear more expensive. However, when you dig deeper into the ongoing cost and challenges with hiring, managing, and training in-house IT staff, it’s easy to see why a business that demands operational efficiency and reliable technology would prefer an equally efficient and reliable service model. Only pay for what you are consuming!
How will these truths impact your business in the future?
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