Can you afford not to be in a “technology business”?
Article written by Vladimir Kovacevic
featured in Canadian Equipment Finance magazine, March 2013
No one said it better than Bob Dylan in his legendary song “The Times They Are a-Changin’”.
Although the song was originally written to describe a different environment than what we see today, the lyrics and the message are universally true and timeless.
Change is inevitable and a fact of life, but one thing that is different in the last 5 years is the pace of the change. We have gone from changes that take decades to notice and impact our lives, to changes that are measured in months.
The most notable and rapid changes are technology related – so how should a modern business deal with this environment? How fast should the change be adopted? How much should be adopted? Can you afford to “wait it out”?
The topic is complex and vast – there are many examples of change and technology adoption revitalizing the business and enabling it to soar to new heights, but there are also many examples of change having the exact opposite effect. So, what is the right answer? As with most things that truly matter – there is no simple answer, no magic “one liner” that just makes it work. However, there are guidelines and best practices that when understood and followed can guarantee a positive and successful outcome.
Here is a simple 5 step process that will get you started in the right direction:
- Establish a baseline – it’s impossible to grow and change without a baseline. Rely on experts that understand both the business and the technology to perform an audit of your existing environment and give you a written report. Use this report as a baseline and starting point for any change.
- Determine realistic business goals for the next 3, 6, 12, 24 and 36 months. Forget about the technology and focus on the business – every good technology improvement accomplishes a very specific business goal. You must have a “big picture” – without it any solutions that are implemented will cause as many issues as they solve.
- Identify an in-house “technology champion” – business oriented individual(s) that understand the value and importance of technology, standardization and automation. This person or a group of people need to be able to bridge the gap between technology and business. This is one of the most difficult and sensitive roles and requires a very specific combination of business knowledge and expertise combined with a natural affinity for process improvement.
- Small steps – series of small changes and improvements made over time are easier to manage and control and the value of the end result is much greater than the sum of individual improvements. A word of caution; never lose sight of the “big picture” and make sure that all small projects and improvements are properly fitting and contributing to the “big picture”.
- Find the right balance between the “in-house” work and “off the shelf” products and don’t be afraid to use them both. This balance greatly depends on the size of the organization and is a topic for discussion in itself, but the rule of thumb is that whatever your business problem may be, others have likely faced it and solved it – so seek the industry experts and look for advice before plunging into custom solutions. More than likely, “there’s an app for that”.
The times may be changing, and at it may feel overwhelming and too complex to tackle new technologies, but luckily there are others who are currently going through the same process and others who have already done it. Peers, industry contacts and events are an excellent way to reach out to experts and ensure that changes you are making are done right and in a way that fits your unique business circumstances. When properly implemented, technology can propel businesses to extraordinary heights.