The 4 Main Technology Issues for Business Owners and How to Combat Them
Technology is the great leveller in business. Access to powerful technology enables small businesses to compete against much larger competitors on equal terms. At the same time, small businesses often struggle to solve key issues related to understanding, buying, and maintaining technology products.
Some of these key tech issues for business owners are:
1. Figuring Out What Works, What Doesn't
If there's one thing businesses today don't have any shortage of, it is choices in technology.
From CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software to cloud hosting providers, a modern business can choose from literally dozens of often identical competitors. That every technology itself is highly specialized makes it doubly hard to distinguish between them. Figuring out which of these works for your business, which doesn't, is one of the biggest issues business owners have to face today.
Solution: Research. Buying technology should be like buying any other business equipment. Dig in deep and do your due diligence before plopping down your cash. There are hundreds of useful blogs and resources to help you make a better buying decision. Take help whenever possible, both from within and outside the company. Attend industry trade shows and interact with fellow players to see their technology stacks. What works for a competitor can more often than not also work for you.
2. Maintaining and Upgrading Technology Products and Solutions
Technology products have a very short shelf life. Obsolescence sets in nearly every year or so as new products with incrementally better performance arrive on the market. This is true for hardware as well as software. You might have bought the best servers you could afford in 2010, but four years later in 2014, they would be slow, clunky and nearly obsolete. The same is true with software. You can spend a hundred thousand pounds upgrading your IT from Windows XP to Windows Vista, only to find an entirely new (and better) operating system on the market within a year.
Besides upgrades, there is also the issue of maintenance. Technology breaks. Printers get jammed, software crashes, and servers malfunction. This is a part and parcel of working with technology. More often than not, you have to have a team around just to provide routine maintenance to your technology systems.
Solution: Limit upgrades and maintenance by moving as much of your IT to the cloud as possible. Ditch clunky desktop based CRMs and productivity tools and choose something like SalesForce or Office 365 instead. Use the same advice when it comes to hosting and storage. Instead of maintaining expensive servers, move your IT to the cloud. Take advantage of storage solutions such as Dropbox and Box to keep your data secure. Not only will this deliver cost savings, it will also ensure that your firm can focus on its core competitiveness instead of dealing with tech issues.
3. Changing Nature of Marketing
Marketing has changed a lot in the last decade. Most businesses, however, haven't quite kept pace with the changes. Buying up ads in print, TV or radio simply isn't as effective anymore. Every business now needs to master an entirely new world of search engine marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, etc.
Understandably, this causes a lot of issues for many businesses. Businesses that have been around for years already have an established marketing plan (which, to their consternation, doesn't quite work anymore). Changing these to the new paradigms of marketing and hiring qualified talent to effect these changes is a key issue for many businesses.
Solution: There are no two ways about it: any business that wants to thrive today must master digital marketing. Start by hiring talent that specializes in digital marketing. Gradually shift your marketing priorities from traditional advertising to digital. It might make for a slow start, but you'll realize that the ROI with digital marketing can often trump anything you get with traditional marketing mediums.
Hacks and data breaches have a lot of businesses very worried. Hackers have time and again broken into systems once thought impregnable and laid out the security flaws for the world to see. As hackers get even more advanced and organized, keeping technology secure is an every business will have to deal with.
Solution: Improving tech security is a matter of plugging every possible hole in your technology infrastructure. This means keeping everything from Point of Sale (POS) systems to server software up to date. It also means effecting organization-wide data security policies and educating both customers and employees on how to keep data safe. Businesses must see security as a long term investment, not a quick fix solution.
Technology is a boon to businesses, but it is not without its issues. It can be often difficult to understand, difficult to buy, and difficult to maintain. By following the tips given above, your business can go a long way in leveraging technology effectively.