It’s the nature of business that every enterprise must be capable of adapting to change. If you’re serious about the survival of your company, you need to remain alert to technological changes that could give you an advantage over the competition. You also need to understand the risks that come with technology and know how to protect yourself. If you don’t, you run the risk of competitors getting there first. The simplest way to keep track is to focus on the key areas where technology has brought about change so far.
Speeding up communication
Ever since the invention of the telegraph, technology has played a key role in business by speeding up the pace at which we can communicate. Today, it’s not just mobile communications and email that are making a difference, but also workplace intranets that enable colleagues to reach one another almost instantaneously whenever an idea needs to be shared or a suggestion made.
As well as helping with written communications, technology is changing the way we communicate face to face. That is, instead of having to do so in person, we now have the option of using video conferencing facilities either for one to one meetings or for attending seminars. That can save a great deal of time for busy executives by reducing their need to travel, and it makes work more accessible to many disabled people. It also gives many businesses the option of taking on remote workers and makes it easier to have some staff members work from home part of the time, helping them when it comes to childcare or other responsibilities.
Technology also has a key role to play in streamlining day to day business operations, with electronic resource planning software helping to ensure that different activities are coordinated and as little time as possible is lost in the process. That has significantly speeded up collaborative working and has helped integrate different technologies into the workplace, reducing delays as workers get used to new software. In doing so, it frees up executives to spend more time on other aspects of running the business.
Despite the greater efficiencies achieved by the integration of technology, it’s not taking away jobs – in fact, it’s doing quite the opposite. That is partly because it’s helping businesses to grow and also because IT experts are now needed to ensure that everything works as it should. If you’re just beginning to integrate a new piece of technology and you’re not sure what you’ll need regarding new staff to manage it, you can always bring in contract workers to help. If you pay them through an umbrella company, then it’s a straightforward process.
Of course, new technology isn’t all good, especially when business teams lack the skills to use it safely. It’s important to keep track of cyber threats and to be alert to the risk of hacking by extortionists, malicious individuals or business rivals who might want to steal your secrets. Many technology companies now offer security support along with each new project, and it’s also a good idea to ensure that your existing staff members have full security training, which should also be provided for new people joining your company. After all, it only takes one weak link to place you at risk.
The other big downside of technology is that, inevitably, it sometimes fails – and that can bring your whole business to a standstill. Keeping secure back-ups of essential data can help you get back up to speed a lot faster, but what’s most important is to have insurance that covers the cost of downtime in such instances, and to know who to turn to when you need help getting things back up and running. That could be in-house staff or special recovery experts. Even with experts on the job, it can take 48-hours or more to recover from a major system crash, so have a plan in place to continue with as much work as you can by other means if this should happen to you.
Although it’s not always perfect, business technology is no longer something we can afford to do without. The more you familiarize yourself with it, the less likely it is that serious problems will occur, so it’s well worth making an effort. Being an early adopter – and knowing your stuff – can help your business steal a march on the competition.