Technology is an ever-changing asset for businesses and consumers alike. Sometimes it seems that new technology comes out, only to be replaced with a newer product before you even have time to learn how to use it.
While the pace of technology might feel overwhelming at first, adopting technology can greatly improve your business processes. New technologies make it easier to analyze data, connect with clients, and keep business information safe and secure. You can easily update current programs and products to keep your business up-to-date with the latest tools.
On the other hand, not adopting technology leaves your business at risk of becoming outdated, losing out on streamlined systems or processes, or being open to security threats. Your client or customer experience could suffer, reducing the likelihood of them returning to your business
Learn more about how technology can have a positive effect on your business, the risks of ignoring technology, and how you can choose the tools that are right for your organization.
Improves Data Management
Are you collecting data for your business? Modern tools allow you to gather information on almost anything, from sales per customer to the number of clicks on a website link. You can analyze and transform this information into actionable insights to improve your messaging, efficiency, and bottom line.
Alternatively, using outdated processes or tools to collect and analyze your data might leave it unusable. To get the most from data collection, you have to start with strong data management. Technology opens the door to the better collection, storage, and analysis of data across your organization. Better data leads to better decisions.
Data management technology helps:
- Reduce Duplicate Data: Management technology eliminates duplicate data at collection points by merging existing duplicates.
- Speed Up Processes: Modern technology often means faster response times, which allows your team to find and process data faster than before.
- Organize Information: Adopting data management technology and strategies keeps information organized as it goes through the data lifecycle.
- Improve Accessibility: Team members have access to the data they need to complete processes, form insights, and take action.
Many small businesses have limited resources compared to large corporations. This makes it especially important for small businesses to reduce waste and manage resources effectively, particularly labor and time. With less time wasted on manual processes, employees can complete more projects and increase their productivity. You can use technology to automate processes and increase efficiency across your organization.
Increased efficiency often translates into direct positive improvements for small businesses. A more efficient business wastes less time on tedious tasks and manual processes. With this new-found time, you can develop action plans, fine-tune marketing messages, and plan for the future.
For example, let’s consider a sales team before introducing invoicing technology:
- The sales team enters sales data from paper invoices into a database.
- This process takes each team member a couple of minutes to complete.
- Human errors like typos mean they need to regularly check the accuracy of the database.
- Team members spend a significant amount of time checking their work and manually typing data.
After introducing automated invoicing software, however:
- Sales data automatically populate in the database.
- Human error is greatly reduced.
- The sales team no longer wastes time manually inputting data.
- The team can use their time to focus on what they do best: making sales for the business.
A connected team is a more efficient and effective team. Open communication allows every team member to see a project’s status, who’s in charge, and what steps are next. This increases accountability between team members and limits stalls in the workflow. As your employees work together to get things done, projects are less likely to fall between the cracks or get accidentally abandoned.
Modern technology platforms give you almost endless options to communicate. They let you switch from relying on emails or phone calls for communication to actively connecting with your teams. Project management software, for example, makes it easy to keep the whole team informed on where a project currently stands.
Lowers Labor Costs
Hiring the best candidates for a position can be a struggle for small businesses. Too often, a small business doesn’t have the resources to offer compensation packages that entice top talent. Automating business processes with technology can help reduce your labor costs, freeing up more resources for more specialized positions.
As you automate processes, you have less need for non-specialized positions. You can remove these positions and save your business money by reducing labor costs. Your business can then invest the cost savings back into the organization.
This might mean hiring for a specialized position with a dedicated skill set using a more robust compensation package. Likewise, you could choose to invest in education for your existing employees so they can take on more responsibilities and bigger roles in the organization.
Secures Business Data
Any business storing information knows the importance of data security. Your clients, employees, and vendors trust you to keep their information safe and secure from both physical and cyber theft. Outdated data storage could leave your data open to attack.
Investing in modern data technology secures your data from threats. Cloud computing, for example, tends to be more secure than on-premise data storage. Most of today’s technology, including software as a service (SaaS) platforms, improves security with features like two-factor authentication. Many cloud-based solutions even employ security teams dedicated to looking for weaknesses in their systems and then fixing them before outside threats can detect them.
Downtime represents one of the biggest threats to productivity in your organization. Whenever systems, tools, or processes are out of commission, employees can’t effectively complete projects. This leaves them without much to do outside of waiting for systems to be available again. Your business is left with wasted labor resources and lower outputs.
You can reduce downtime in your business processes with technology. Automated processes, faster response times, and automatic updates help ensure your programs and systems are almost always available. By leaning into new technology, you lower the risk of a crash from an outdated system that cannot handle your current business needs.
Consider a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) platform. Before introducing a modern CRM tool, your business relies on spreadsheets and email to manage client data. A team member enters client information, then sends the file to a team member at a different office via email. The second team member is left waiting for the file to download until they can make changes.
Once downloaded, they find the file was made in a previous version of the software, and they must convert it to the new version. This process takes even more time, and the employee cannot move forward on the project until it’s complete.
If this sounds like how your business is run, switching to a cloud-based CRM platform would simplify the data-sharing process. All of the data and information is standardized and stored on the platform. There’s no need to send the file via email or convert it to a matching format. The downtime between the first employee finishing their work and the second employee beginning theirs is all but eliminated.
Boosts Customer Experience
The customer experience is the combination of every interaction a customer has with your business. An engaging and positive experience leads to more loyal, repeat clients. To capture this loyalty, you need to show clients an unmatched experience at every point of contact with your business. This could include advertising with a perfectly tailored message, fast responses to questions, or an improved transaction experience.
For many small businesses, this proves to be a challenge. Large corporations may have the ability to have staff available around the clock to answer questions. They might also have access to teams of analysts to develop customized marketing materials and detailed plans to improve the shopping experience. A small business is unlikely to have affordable access to these tools.
The good news is technology makes it easier for your small business to improve the client experience and compete with larger businesses. Automated chatbots and AI customer service, for example, allow you to answer questions or resolve problems at any time. Customer management tools help you determine what’s most important to your audience so you can create tailored marketing messages. Review management software can help you analyze your business reviews to identify areas of weakness in the customer experience.
Technology provides almost unlimited ways to increase positive customer experiences with your business. As your customers have more positive experiences, their general outlook of your business improves. This helps build a strong relationship with loyal customers who serve as a foundation to grow your business further.
What Happens if Your Business Doesn’t Adapt to Technology?
Implementing technology throughout your business provides a wealth of benefits. Using the right technology makes your business run smoother and work more efficiently.
However, the benefits aren’t the only reason to adopt technology in your organization. Not using technology can hurt your business. When you ignore technology and continue using outdated processes, you risk holding your business back.
If your business doesn’t adapt to changes in technology, you might face setbacks such as:
- Less Efficient Processes: Technology often speeds up business processes for a more efficient business. However, continuing to use your current processes doesn’t mean you’ll stay at the same level of productivity you are now. Keeping manual processes or using outdated technology for your processes usually makes your business less efficient over time.For example, an employee leaves your company, and you hire a new employee to take their spot. The previous employee had several tasks they completed manually but did not leave detailed explanations on the process. Your new employee is then forced to learn and develop these processes on their own, which is less efficient than the previous process. Automation removes the risk of losing instructions during transitions.
- Falling Behind Competitors: You could be left in the dust if your competitors embrace and optimize the latest technology. As your competitors pull ahead, you’re left to play catch up as you try to gain ground. The sooner you adapt to new technology, the more likely you’ll stay at or ahead of the competition. This puts you in a position to be the leader in your industry, rather than trying to keep up.
- Poor Customer Experiences: In general, brand loyalty decreases as customer effort increases. What does this mean? The harder it is for a customer to contact your business, use your product or service, or find your business, the less likely they are to return. Ignoring technology makes it more difficult to find weaknesses and design improvements for your customer experience. Embracing technology, however, gives you the tools you need to build a loyal customer base.
- Risk Irrelevance: Remember the video store giant, Blockbuster? They used to be a leader in the entertainment industry, but now they’re irrelevant. Blockbuster may have had the chance to embrace technology and be a pioneer in the streaming entertainment business, but they stuck with their existing business model of renting movies from physical locations. Now, very few people choose to visit a video store over accessing entertainment through streaming services. Blockbuster serves as a leading example of the importance of embracing technology in your business at the risk of becoming irrelevant.
- Overlooked Data Insights: Do you know the best way to reach your customers or clients? Can you find which areas of your business have the most waste? It is easy to answer these questions using data technology. You could be missing these insights — and more — when you skip adopting the technology. Get more actionable information from your data by investing in technology tools and solutions.
Choosing the Right Technology for Your Business
Your business needs technology, but you also need to choose the right solution. Simply investing in technology tools without analyzing your needs can waste time and money. Answer these questions as you decide what services or tools are right for your business:
- What areas do you want to improve with technology (data management, security, efficiency, etc.)?
- What is your technology budget?
- Is the rest of your business leadership/executive team on board? Does this affect what products you can choose?
- Can you optimize current systems or do you need a new solution?
- Does the solution you’re considering have resources to help train employees on the new system? Is it easy to use?
Finding the right technology solution for your business can greatly improve the effectiveness of your business processes. You’ll see increased efficiency and better client and customer experiences while also securing and organizing data. An investment in technology also helps you avoid falling behind competitors and becoming irrelevant.
What do you think is the most important effect technology has on your business? Leave a comment and let us know!