The one critical aspect of every business operating today is technology. Even a simple hot-dog vendor probably relies on mobile networks and spreadsheets. Whether it’s a single POS system or a network linking offices on both coasts, using the best available technology to track and coordinate inventory, sales, and resources helps companies establish a sound position in competitive markets.
What follows are some basic techniques to help you integrate technical awareness into business routines with minimal waste of money and effort. Once you get the techniques down to a habit, you’ll find that keeping up with technology actually saves you time and money—as technology is supposed to.
Adopt a strategy
1. Keep in touch with staff and gauge performance to understand real business needs.
2. Assess the resources you do have vs new options.
3. Prioritize resources in terms of value to your company.
4. Get a perspective on how these resources affect overall work flow.
Your needs stem from the type of technology in use, how it’s used, and the expected results. Does it allow more flexibility, collaboration, documentation? Which of these is most important? Where do you see current use as not meeting expectations? The answers to these questions are the building blocks of technology assessment. Knowing what is needed and just how it will be used is essential to finding the technology that will be the right fit.
Once you understand what your needs are and how they fit your business plan, compare new products with your existing solutions. Read tech magazines or Internet articles to explore new products and features, compatibility issues, and whether these solutions are cost-effective and scalable to future growth. You should know whether you’re talking about contracted services, a network overhaul, or simple software updates. Consider managed IT services that are in the business of technology planning as a consultant or long-term solution.
Improvements can be planned incrementally to minimize expense and adjust strategy. When changing your primary software or server platforms, what else will have to be adjusted? It’s a good idea to prioritize what needs fixing the most, or what can benefit you the most. But you must bear in mind how changing the item at the top of the list will affect items below.
With all change, there should be systems in place to track progress. Don’t count on employees using new software to maximum effectiveness without a period of training and adjustment. Don’t assume that new software is better software. Powerful new applications can put a strain on outdated networks. New server configurations or enterprise data solutions could bring more headaches. Sometimes metrics for performance and capacity planning must be redesigned to fit new strategies.
In order to stay competitive, you want to get the most out of your tech, and that means keeping up with constant technology changes. You can’t allow your rivals to have faster networks and superior network security. Keeping up with changes needn’t be a financial drain if you’re doing it in a proactive, systematic way.