Every business is at a different stage in their technology evolution. For some, they’re just starting to see that the break-fix relationship with their provider isn’t serving them properly. For others, they have a fully integrated technology strategy, but need a way to take it to the next level. So often we discuss topics that involve technology innovation without paying as much attention to topics that cater to the initial stages of businesses improving technology. This is important because a small business owners need to understand how they can improve and innovate their technology just as much as a more sophisticated business that is farther along in their technology process. Here are the four stages of better technology adoption to help you get a better idea of where you stand and what the next steps might be for you to innovate your technology at a pace that’s right for you.
- The paper-reliant small business.
Many small businesses start without much technology. They use paper to record customer orders or take notes on patient records and use their processes and file system manually to record information. They might use computers to manage certain aspects of their business and e-mail customers, but there are only a few workstations in their office. Their relationship with technology is mainly break-fix. Meaning they only contact their IT provider when they’re experiencing issues. Their IT provider might be a tech-savvy family friend or relative, or a one-man operation. These types of businesses may experience productivity bottlenecks when they have workstation issues that may go on for hours or days unresolved. Their technology pain is mainly related to small workstation issues or they may struggle locating records and paperwork.
- The growing small business with piecemeal technology.
As businesses grow, they add workstations and make an attempt to move a little more paperless. They might purchase a line of business application that will move a portion of their processes onto their workstations. As a result, they’ll have to add a server to store files on to eliminate a portion of their paperwork that was previously manually filed. They might have a technology partner that manages their workstation antivirus and ensures their server it up and running in addition to a HelpDesk that can keep their people productive and resolve ongoing issues with workstations.
- A paperless business with comprehensive technology.
As businesses begin to adopt even more technology they’ll find a few different applications that serve their accounting and fulfillment needs. Their line of business applications will include dashboards where they can extract data and they can eliminate a lot of the bottlenecks that are happening within the business and streamline processes that weren’t fully integrated into a line of business application. This allows them to easily access data and use that data to grow and eliminate administrative mistakes or customer unhappiness. Data is all in one place, their workforce is mobile and they might switch over to hosted e-mail or storage applications to help them maintain security. This organization rarely experiences downtime, has managed antivirus, sophisticated phone systems and systems in place to properly manage their processes.
- An industry-leading growing organization.
When technology isn’t breaking any longer and business is running smoothly from a technology and process perspective is when most businesses might stop improving their technology. When downtime isn’t an issue, employees are productive and nothing is breaking – this is when some organizations stop innovating. But there are some that want to take their technology to the next level. These organizations are ready to not just have data and make sure things are seamless, but to use that data to run even leaner, improve productivity and enhance customer experience and marketing. These are the industry leaders, the ones that make splashes and get written about. They receive awards and get recognition for innovation. This is what we strive to help our customers achieve.
You have to take technology a step at a time. Not every business is ready to move to the cloud and start putting tablets in the hands of their employees. There are basic foundational pieces of technology that your organization should embrace first. You can’t do it all at once and you can’t do it alone. You need experts to help you manage budget and determine priorities as well as identify the biggest pain and how you can improve in a steady, scalable way.
Technology can be overwhelming. Make sure you have a partner that can help you through things and move your business from the stage that it is in to take it to the next level.