There is a lot of talk these days about technology as a disruptive force and how business owners need to adapt or die. While it is true that not staying up to date with technology could mean your business becomes obsolete, it’s probably not the right way to view technology.
The ever-changing role of technology in business should be seen as an opportunity, a way to enable business growth and differentiate your business from competitors. When a SWOT analysis is undertaken, technology should be listed right there in the opportunity section.
The best way to stop technology from disrupting your business and then trying hastily to play catch up, is to stay ahead of the game. Take an interest in the technology developments in your industry, stay up to date with what’s happening, read blogs and attend events.
Technology such as Cloud computing allows you to access your business from anywhere – this means employees can be sent out on-site to offer consulting style services. This kind of flexibility allows you to have all information and applications on hand, build better relationships with clients, add more value, and ultimately generate a higher profit margin.
Using collaborative tools such as Skype for business in the Cloud gives you the ability to communicate easily with your team outside of traditional methods. A project doesn’t have to come to a grinding halt just because certain employees are out of the office. This is especially handy for businesses that have multiple offices, contractors or just want their different departments to interact more.
Collaboration software can also help decrease the number of phone calls and meetings needed as everyone is up to date on projects and tasks. Every time there’s a new version of a document, everyone can see and comment in real time. Obviously regular meetings are important, but frequent needless meetings can drain staff and the labour hours lost add up.
These tools can also help you to manage projects and keep an eye on the workload of your employees. The goals are clearer and the timeline can be followed precisely. Not to mention the nature of these tools can encourage greater relationships between departments and foster innovative and creative ideas.
The Cloud can also provide a safe space to save all your data – just make sure the provider in question has multiple data replication centres and keeps the data stored in Australia. As with any service you must make sure that a provider isn’t cutting corners just to save a few extra bucks.
With all this talk of offering more in-depth and higher end services to clients, you need to make sure you have the right staff. If you are looking to expand, you’ll need to attract the right people. This is where technology can also help in terms of offering an attractive workplace. Work/life balance is an important part of attracting quality candidates, and a perk that can make your company stand out from the rest. The Cloud can allow you to offer employees flexibility, whether that is working from home, working outside standard business hours or staggering starting times.
Overall, the right technology can allow your business to step up your service offerings, create a more productive and collaborative office and attract the right employees. Once you start looking at technology as an enabler and not an overhead, you will begin to grow your bottom line and gain a competitive advantage.
Chris Boswell spent 17 years as an Engineer / Project Manager at BHP before founding Strategic Group in 1989. He has a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering and a Masters of Computer Engineering from the University of Newcastle.
Chris enjoys meeting small business owners and discussing how they can leverage IT to improve and grow their businesses.
Outside of work Chris?۪s passions include; his family, cars, wine and Rotary.
Chris is the past Assistant Governor and President of the Newcastle Rotary Club and has been awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship.