Digital and mobile technology have become essential for the effective operation of virtually every business. But precisely what technology your small business needs depends on a wide range of conditions and circumstances. Probably the only common factor all businesses share is recognizing when it’s time to move beyond existing resources and upgrade technology to improve internal operations, product manufacture and delivery, sales and customer service.
Some business owners possess the technical knowledge, as well as the operational “breathing space” to assess their company’s technology needs on their own. Generally speaking, most business leaders must depend on experts, internal or external, to help make that determination.
The process often starts when certain warning signs appear, indicating it’s time for an upgrade.
These warning signs may include the following:
- You realize you can’t do everything yourself. If your business largely depends on you individually serving in a variety of roles, sooner or later you’ll find it’s untenable to do everything yourself. That’s when it’s time to explore automated solutions—automation technology for everything from HR and payroll to accounting and marketing—that keep the administrative aspects of your business running smoothly. This enables you to reserve your precious time for more pressing, strategic goals.
- Your office technology fails to keep up with the times. Clinging to outmoded hardware and/or software technology you purchased more than one or two years ago simply isn’t cost-effective. As Nevada Small Business notes, “Many small business owners wait to purchase new equipment, and only buy when the desktop starts spewing smoke out of the cooling vents.”
- You can’t meet your customers’ current (and future) mobile needs. If your business products or services aren’t mobile-optimized, chances are your business is missing out on some valuable sales opportunities. These days, customers expect to be able to research, evaluate and complete their “purchasing journey” entirely on a mobile device (phone, tablet, laptop). To stay current, your website must be optimized for mobile transactions. The need may be even more pressing if you have an active sales team out in the field. To remain competitive, your team requires mobile devices to help with taking orders, staying in touch with headquarters, and related activities. If you don’t provide your road warriors with updated, mobile technology, you can be assured your competitors are doing so with their teams.
- Your social media efforts are falling short. Let’s assume you recognize the value of maintaining an active presence on social media, be it Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other industry-focused sites. What good is that presence if you lack the social media monitoring tools to track when your brand gets mentioned, discussed, debated or otherwise serve as a focus of social conversations? Once again, key sales and brand-building opportunities may be missed.
If these or other signs suggest you’re falling behind in needed technology, talk to your team about what problems they face that new equipment may solve. If you don’t have an internal IT specialist on hand, consider hiring a consultant to assess your situation and offer concrete suggestions.
Better yet, schedule regular technology assessments and upgrades (instead of discovering too late that your tech needs aren’t being met). Such assessments should take place at least once a year, if not every six months. Your business may not require the latest, flashiest technology to stay competitive, but ongoing assessments will help you determine if and when minor upgrades will meet your needs.
Want to learn more about how technology can serve your business needs? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!