Have you ever tried to use the self-checkout at the grocery store only to have the attendant come over multiple times because the system isn’t functioning as it should? The resultant delays often lead to the conclusion that the old way was simpler, better – and less frustrating.
From a business perspective, when technology doesn't work the way it's supposed to, the consequences go beyond mere inconvenience, they can present significant challenges for the organization – including increased cost and potential loss of business. Properly implemented and harnessed, technology can and should be a catalyst that drives business growth. Here are five ways technology can be that driver.
1. Save Time and Maximize Efficiency
One of technology’s biggest advertised benefits is it’s ability to save time by finding efficiencies across the entire organization. Managing infrastructure is a great place to apply this capability. As recently as ten years ago managing an Exchange server was a full-time job in a lot of organizations. Now with cloud technology and platforms such as Microsoft Office 365, once migrated management is essentially point-and-click.
Cybersecurity is another area where applying technology is key to saving time and gaining efficiency. As security threats and sophistication increases, the challenge presented by the sheer number of logs that must be monitored to effectively keep a system secure (easily thousands at any given time, even in a mid-sized organization) is more than individuals alone could manage. Happily, the efficiency and capability of technology including AI and automation, can be readily applied and implemented to ensure that you and your customers are safe.
2. Improve the Customer Experience
There is no question that companies shrink or grow based on the experience of their customers. For a shining example of this, look no further than Apple. iPods, iPhones and iPads not only created new markets, but also consistently deliver an excellent user experience. Apple’s attention to the customer experience allowed them to grow rapidly in a market that saw established leaders such as Nokia and Blackberry fall away and lose market share.
And you don’t have to be a corporate giant to make an impact on customer experience. Just take a look at wireless internet access in restaurants and coffee shops. Smart restaurant owners make Wi-Fi readily available to customers because they know it is often the difference between customers returning and customers who choose to eat elsewhere.
3. Provide Access To New Markets/Customer Understanding
Never in the history of commerce has it been easier to gain customer insight into your customer and really focus on their specific needs. The burgeoning field of retail analytics involves harnessing and studying the data provided by the countless daily customer transactions and activities. This allows organizations to identify patterns and develop strategies to target these consumer trends. It has allowed savvy companies to access new customer markets and dig deeper into buying patterns of existing customers to develop further opportunities.
Too many companies are under-utilizing this gold mine of data either because they are unaware of the opportunity, or have not yet invested in the technology in place to capitalize on it.
4. Enhance Employee Experience
Experience is not just for customers. I used to work for an organization where I had a seven-year-old laptop. Working with the tools and applications I was provided was so painful that it made aspects of my job feel tedious and often took far longer than necessary. If your people are struggling with their tools, they lose the ability to act efficiently where competitors can. This inevitably leads to frustration for customers and staff alike.
Not only does this make you less efficient as an organization, it also leaves your best people susceptible to a competitive offer where the in-house technology is a draw. All too often, senior management views upgrading technology as an expense when it often has the ability to enable the business, improve culture and attract top talent.
5. An Overarching Technology Roadmap
This applies to all of the concepts described above because no single new technology implementation will be successful in the long-term without a big-picture plan in place. Many organizations miss this key piece. They buy technology reactively and view it as an expense rather than proactively planning and investing in technology based on a roadmap that delivers real business value.
Your roadmap will be unique to your organization. It should consider your marketplace, your industry or sector, what your customers are looking for - including their buying habits and trends; and ultimately, how technology can help you achieve those goals. Your plan should encompass stakeholders from across the organization so that everyone is invested, is part of the plan and clearly understands where and how they fit on the roadmap.
If any of these resonate with you, reach out and let’s chat, I’d love to help.