My message is clear: many business owners need to wake-up to technology if they wish to survive, when instead they are asleep at the wheel.
My warning comes following recent research by Vistage that revealed nearly half of the business owners and managing directors do not feel they are up-to-date with how their customers and competitors are using technology, while over a third feel that they have no one in their senior management team who is “IT savvy”.
This is a shocking figure if you consider the dramatic changes technology is constantly bringing – and the amount of businesses that have suddenly been wrong-footed or even brought down by its changes.
Every business is at risk from changes from technology. Online shopping has destroyed businesses from high street record stores to travel agents – although it is a boon for delivery companies and home-based specialists.
Across all manner of markets technology has had a sustained and dramatic impact. The decline of high streets from the rise of ecommerce; the dramatic growth of social media; the rapid development of mobile phones and tablet computing; and the creation of huge numbers of all sorts of home-based businesses are just some of the effects of technology. You will be able to think of many in your own sector.
Technology is great because it can be used to make businesses more efficient and increase productivity. For example, a taxi firm introduced vehicle trackers within their taxis meaning they were able to be tracked at head office, ensuring the closest taxi picks up a client – all the while working out the best mileage and time use (something which is a regular feature for taxi firms nowadays).
Like it or not, someone in the senior team needs to be tech savvy – especially if you are not a technology business! If there is no-one in their current team who can fulfil this role, the business’s managing director needs to find someone – there are no excuses, it’s just too important and urgent.
I am not talking about someone who is happy fixing the printer or setting up the PCs of course – I mean someone who really understands how your customers are using technology and the implications of what is coming down the technology pipeline.
No matter what sector you are in, your competitors are using technology to improve their offerings and sell more effectively, while your suppliers and customers are using technology innovatively too.
Being side-lined by new technology is a huge risk, and also a great opportunity, and for businesses who are happy to always be behind with technology, they really need to consider whether their business’s strategy is fit for purpose!
Technology can cause problems if there is a lack of understanding, and more often than not there are other things which can be looked at first – you can’t just brush over a lack of productivity from staff by introducing faster production systems.
Technology is much more than just a solution to common problems, it improves cultures, processes and mind-sets. I highly recommend that someone in a company must understand and be responsible for implementing technological change for the benefit of the business – as sometimes the simplest things can make a huge difference!