We’re all technical these days – or at least we should be when it comes to preserving the longevity of the businesses we work in. However, all too often as business people, we are fond of giving away the responsibility for the technology that is driving our businesses and which we know deep down we should be helping to shape. What’s more, as consumers and end users demand more and more from organisations for much less, there’s never been a more important time to reassess our attitudes to technology and its significance to our everyday business operations.
Since the 90s, and the explosion of the World Wide Web, technology has advanced at an unprecedented and exponential rate. Not only has technology changed organisations’ relationship with their customers, it has meant that smaller businesses can compete on a level playing field with the so-called ‘big boys’.
For those looking to get ahead of the competition, there are certainly a number of things they should consider immersing themselves in when it comes to technology and its impact on their business’s success.
First of all, there’s the increasing development and ubiquity of remote hosting technologies. Examples of hosting technologies can be seen in the form of Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services. Like never before, these remote hosting platforms dramatically reduce the requirements of setting up and maintaining on-site corporate infrastructure. This is a great advantage for all sizes of organisation, but particularly for small businesses and those just starting out as it means that they can compete like never before.
Given the rapid increase of remotely hosted business services, authentication and authorisation will become even more important in the very near future. Only recently we’ve seen Apple launch its mobile payment system which dramatically changes the way in which consumers pay for their goods and services. In fact, this type of technology will become de rigueur in the next couple of years – gone will be the days where we carry around a small wallet of plastic cards.
With this in mind, it’s simply illogical for modern business leaders to ignore such advancements. Not only do developments in electronic authentication allow the consumer more freedom and expediency in their everyday purchases, it means that businesses are essentially competing for the ID details of their customers on a daily basis. Without the necessary infrastructure in place to compete and provide customers with an easy way of proving who they are, organisations will quickly find themselves becoming irrelevant in the market place.
Having the necessary internal infrastructure and mind-set in place to cope with the increasingly technical business environment is imperative. My words of advice to all business leaders would be to ensure that they invest early in something called DevOps. Although it sounds technical (don’t let that put you off), DevOps is actually quite straightforward. By DevOps, I mean that businesses should ensure that the software development, quality assurance and operational aspects of their business all work towards supporting a business’s overarching goals and outputs.
By developing an environment that promotes DevOps, organisations are better equipped to navigate the latest technological trends and deploy them at the operational level – the upshot of this being that customers are better served and businesses can operate on a much smaller cost base.
Usability of their client-facing operations should be another area of tech investment for businesses of all sizes. It is becoming increasingly important to ensure that it is your service that customers choose instead of your competitors. Typically the competition is only one click away - so you have to catch them first with the smoothest user experience you can achieve.
Not only will technology remain a corner stone of all modern businesses, it will actually increase in importance as customers start demanding more convenient ways to procure their goods and services. As business leaders we need to become even more immersed in the technology that surrounds us and our customers, and start to assess how we can put it to best use in the business setting.
By ensuring that your company has the right approach and attitude to technology you will have a sound foundation on which to build a company that uses technology to complement not complicate its operations. What’s more an ability to engage with emerging trends in the tech sector will ensure that your business stays ahead of the competition.
By Michael Richards, Chairman of webexpenses