The sheer pace of technological advancement in the business world is overwhelming. It seems there are always too many products to choose from, and the pressures of new technology adoption can easily cause companies to make mistakes, overlook problems, or simply continue instead to rely on outdated systems.
However, it stands that companies which don’t keep up with the pace of change – or adopt unsuitable or unsafe technologies – are at risk of falling behind their competitors.
Ultimately, when it comes to technology adoption, quality trumps quantity. Rather than trying to procure every device, application, or software system, you need to focus your time and effort identifying the right technology for your business needs
This is easier said than done, but a difficult problem doesn’t always require a complex solution. Here are three examples of common technology issues you may not even realise your business is currently facing – and how you can solve them easily and efficiently.
The largest killer of internal business intelligence is to house data in separate silos. If the various departments within your company, including finance, sales, HR and marketing, are all using different software to manage their customer and company data, you have a silo problem on your hands.
Data silos typically arise when departments compete rather than work together to achieve common business goals. This results in an uncollaborative, ill-informed and inefficient workforce.
A classic example is when a marketing team doesn’t have access to the sales team’s database of leads. When the marketing team is unaware of a prospect’s status, they can’t target them with the relevant business material to help close a deal. Or, the marketing team could have uncovered a new lead opportunity, but if sales can’t access the data directly, it could be too late by the time the information trickles through.
Data silos are bad practice. You need to find one system for managing data that works across your entire business. It’s crucial that your company is able to consolidate its data management needs into one uniform process. As soon as any data is updated, the change must be visible to all stakeholders, ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
The amount of data your company is gathering and storing is increasing daily, so the longer you leave silos in place, the worse the problem will become. Use a master system with unique identifiers for each account to make sure that your data remains rich and relevant. This way, lesser systems won’t overwrite important information and integration will play out seamlessly.
Technology is both the angel on one shoulder; simplifying life’s menial tasks and improving overall efficiency, and the devil on the other; distracting us from more important business with games like Candy Crush and apps like Facebook and Instagram. In fact, the average person is estimated to spend 23 days a year on their mobile phone – and that’s more than most annual leave allowances!
In many companies across the world, employee productivity is severely hampered by the need to constantly stay in the loop socially. Access to mobile phones and social media is largely to blame, and some workplaces do go so far as to ban them completely.
However, this will affect your reputation as an employer and won’t help you attract top talent. Rather than ban potential distractions outright, take a strategic approach and find ways to build social technology into your company culture.
For example, encourage your employees to interact and forge relationships with customers using social platforms. Social selling is an increasingly prominent sales tactic. Salespeople are increasingly using social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to develop fruitful one-on-one business relationships by sharing relevant content and interacting personably with potential buyers and customers.
You could also introduce incentive schemes, inter-departmental competitions and results-based gamification. These are all simple and effective initiatives that motivate employees at work and keep them focused.
Another good idea is to track your employees’ workloads to make sure that tasks are spread evenly among your team. All too often, some people are really busy, while others don’t have enough to do. In the case of the latter, this is when distractions and disillusionment creep in.
Technology moves quickly. Many software packages that were cutting-edge a few years ago are now completely obsolete. The only way keep up with market demands and stay one step ahead of the competition is to regularly spring-clean your technology.
It’s not unusual to find that some systems aren’t even used by employees or that your software package has been discontinued – this means no more support or updates.
Relying on legacy or outdated software puts your business at risk and can increase expenses, as it’s often costly to run. The more you delay updating your systems, the harder it is to maintain, improve or expand the technology.
The older the software, the fewer the experts who understand how to manage it. This can be made worse by a lack or loss of relevant documentation over time.
A regular review of your software and hardware can help you work out what your company’s strengths and weaknesses are. Take a good, hard look at your current technologies and assess what is beneficial and what processes are slowing your staff down. Don’t just talk to management: you also need to gather information from the end-users.
To prevent technology from killing your business, you need to be the boss of it. What works for your rival might not work for you, so know your needs inside out and adopt only the most relevant tools. This will ensure that your processes remain productive and profitable, and your employees stay engaged and motivated.
Sourced by Paul Black, CEO, sales-i – who is in Information Age’s 10 UK-based data entrepreneurs you should know about in 2017
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