Technology moves pretty quickly these days doesn’t it? This year marks the tenth anniversary of the very first iPhone. While it might not have been the first smartphone, it has certainly been an influential addition to our lives. Indeed, it’s tough to imagine a world without iPhones now.
For businesses, technology is both exciting and daunting. While the latest innovations have the power to help you to operate in a more efficient way – and to do new things entirely – it’s also a big challenge to keep up with the latest trends, and a fear that a new development could even make your product or service obsolete.
So, how do you keep up and ensure that you’re getting the benefits of new technology? Here are a few questions to ask yourself…
What’s everyone else up to?
Every business needs to spend time looking at what their rivals are doing – not just the products and services they are offering, but also the way they are offering them. If others are stealing a march on you with technology, you might well need to redress the balance. Do they have an app, for example, that makes it easier for customers to shop with them?
Remember, too, that it isn’t just worth looking at your direct business rivals. Take a look around at other businesses of the same size as you and see what technology they are using. If customers are getting used to a level of service elsewhere, they’ll expect it from you too.
What are people talking about?
Looking at others will help you to see what’s being used now, but with the pace of change for technology, you also need to think about what’s coming next. To do this, it’s important to keep abreast of the latest news in your industry. Whether that’s a website, magazine or podcast, make sure you know what the movers and shakers are saying and doing. See if you could attend a conference too – this could well introduce you to new ideas and developments before they have been widely adopted.
Are you harnessing the power of mobile?
We’ve already discussed the birthday of the iPhone and it’s clear that the ten years since its launch has seen smartphones become an important part of many people’s lives. Whether it’s messaging friends, arranging social lives, working, shopping, listening to music, playing games, watching videos, reading news or taking pictures, smartphones play a vital part.
Given the amount of time spent on mobile, businesses need to consider whether or not they are doing all they can to reach their consumers on their platform of choice. This might mean, as discussed above, building an app or simply tapping into the latest software that can help businesses to use smartphones for practical functions such as stock control.
Do you have a plan for growth?
What does the future of your business look like? What processes would you improve in an ideal world? If you have a plan – and that plan includes looking at investing in technology to streamline the way in which you operate – then you can make it a natural part of your business operation.
Do you need the technology in question?
Finally, you need to apply a test. For every piece of technology that you’re investing in for your business ask ‘do I need to have this?’. You might want it and think that it looks like a nifty piece of kit – you might even think it might be the sort of thing that you’d like to have in your personal life – but it’s important that it’s strictly necessary.
Will it save you time or money or give you the ability to do something completely new? Avoid emotional decisions and make technology investments that are based on a strong business case only. Remember, there have been plenty of widely-heralded pieces of technology that have flopped – you wouldn’t want to jump on the wrong bandwagon and waste valuable investment funds.
This article was produced by Chelsea Ellsworth, an experienced and enthusiastic freelance writer who has written for a variety of online publications and magazines.