Innovate July 2016

Taming The Technology Bull


Written By: Heather Parbst

TECHNOLOGY IS TRANSFORMING BUSINESS AT ITS CORE. WE ARE NOW ABLE TO TEST NEW IDEAS MORE QUICKLY AND MORE CHEAPLY THAN EVER BEFORE.

To survive in today’s market, you have to adapt to change. To succeed in today’s market, you have to be able to anticipate change.

I bring this up because if you have been resisting technology for whatever reason, if you are not actively considering your business technology solutions as a part of your business plan, it’s time to change that. I don’t expect you to compromise your values. For many, considering the change that technology solutions bring conjures up fears of what we are exchanging for it. This isn’t an unfounded worry. As the world changes and technology advances, we leave aspects of our cultures and ourselves behind that are no longer used or needed. Sometimes, we leave aspects of ourselves or our businesses behind that we shouldn’t — for instance, like knowing how to function without the glow of a screen in front of our faces. This can take on a very sad twist when we or our businesses become a victim of that change rather than a driver.

That’s why I am challenging you. There is so much at risk within our businesses when we don’t grab that technology bull by the horns and instead let it run us over. It seems to me that as business leaders, our options are to get on friendly terms with the technology beast — or risk becoming the victim of it. So, consider how your business uses technology. It might be time to start playing with it more, to stop being scared of it, and to take the time to learn about it, because it is shaping the marketplace and will continue to do so. Being reactive with your technology in how you learn it and implement it puts you at a significant disadvantage in regards to security issues as well as competitiveness in the marketplace and the ability to innovate and grow.

This doesn’t mean you have to become a techie. It just means that you allow yourself to be curious about how technology can improve things in your business. If you find yourself resisting technology, take a moment to ask yourself, “Why am I responding this way?” Then, instead, look for ways to leverage this beast to do your bidding. Start asking yourself questions that may spark new and innovate ways to utilize technology proactively. Begin by assessing how well your existing systems are working. Ask yourself and your team questions like these:

• How efficient are my current operations?

• Does my staff spend too much time on less important tasks?

• Are there bottlenecks in my business that cause problems or slow down service?

• Do I have people who are duplicating each other’s efforts? • Are there aspects of my business that I could automate, which might give me or my team time and space to enhance quality in other areas? • Is my current technology going out of date or causing compatibility issues?

• Am I considering and evaluating technology changes as inputs to my business strategy?

Technology is transforming business at its core. We are now able to test new ideas more quickly and more cheaply than ever before. Take advantage of that!

And if you are a digital immigrant (a person not raised on technology), business technology can often feel like learning a different language or visiting a foreign land. It can be hard to shift, and it causes us to stretch and think differently. But, I think those of us who have learned even aspects of another language or traveled outside of U.S. borders can attest that it enriches us — it doesn’t diminish us. Isn’t that what we want in our businesses and professional lives as well? Continuous growth and improvement?

 

HEATHER PARBST is co-owner and CEO of ComputerCare LLC, an IT services company providing a full spectrum of IT solutions and services to small and medium businesses.

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