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The business owner’s guide to staying on top of technology trends

By Jodie Korber on 2/12/16 1:52 PM

Keeping up with developments in technology can seem like a full time job and you may be tempted to give it low priority. But if you’re running a small or medium enterprise (SME), you can’t afford to fall behind on advances that can save you time and help you grow. 

All the tech that’s constantly coming out – and all the updates and upgrades that come along with it – can be seriously overwhelming. It can seem like a constant flow of new devices and apps, and then there’s buzzwords like cloud computing, mobility and big data to think about 

How important is it to be ‘in the know’ about all the latest technology?

Put it this way – keeping ahead of technology is a necessity if your organisation is looking for:

  • long term stability
  • sustainable growth
  • increased productivity
  • more efficient business processes
  • improved profitability
  • competitive advantage

The problem is, most SME owners are consumed with day-to-day activities. It’s hard enough keeping things running as they are, let alone trying to grow. You keep putting off the things you should be doing for the future of your business just to take care of the daily maintenance.

If you do this for too long, eventually you’ll hit a plateau. Despite the hours you put in. If you’re not looking ahead, growth will stagnate and your revenue will stay the same – or worse – decline. 

It’s at this point that you need to set up the processes that free up your time so you can focus on the future of your business.

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Where do you start?

Technology may not be your forte, but small business owners should spend time understanding new developments on a regular basis either by developing the knowledge themselves or consulting an IT provider. 

Try to identify the organisations in your area that are using newer technologies and spend some time with industry peers discussing what technologies they're deploying today and what they're watching for deployment tomorrow.

To start with, it’s a good idea to keep office technology under constant review. Be mindful that competitors and new entrants will more than likely be adopting new efficiency tools or hardware that makes their business run at a lower cost or deliver greater value to customers.

But with the flood of tech breakthroughs, how can you even begin to make sense of individual technologies?

If you have IT staff, this is where they can add some value. But while they may have a better understanding of technology trends, they might struggle to explain them in terms of business value. Plus, they’re most likely under the pump already, with little time to spend on other activities (especially if your IT infrastructure is not up to speed!).

What are your competitors doing?

Don’t think that your business is immune – any type of business can be affected by emerging technology.

However, just how important this technology will be to your business strategy depends on the industry you’re in. Some industries are years ahead of others in terms of technology adoption.

One example is the financial services industry, which has been rocked by the rise of financial technology – or ‘fintech’. Tasks once handled with paper money, bulky computers, and human interaction are now being completed on digital interfaces.

This has given rise to many startups who are disrupting the industry. In fact, over 20% of financial service firms are threatened by fintech startups.

Because of this, it’s never been more important – and urgent – for them to stay on top of new technology.

Get your priorities in order

In a world where the latest app or piece of time-saving software is just around the corner, staying up-to-date can be a headache.

One thing SME owners have very little of is time, and that’s exactly why you need to use it wisely.

While it’s important to be ‘in the know’ about developments in IT, outsourcing this service means you don’t have to spend your own time researching learning what may or may not work to your business.

Yes, you may have to bite the bullet and hire an IT partner to help you navigate the new technology, but isn't it worth it to see your business thrive again?

 

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