Companies looking for a competitive advantage must constantly seek better, faster, and stronger technologies. We’re here to tell you that finding those technologies isn’t difficult at all.
There’s no shortage of internet articles preaching the latest and greatest in IT, and although the technology listed may seem of use to your business, it might not be what your employees actually need.
Advanced solutions can give small- and medium-sized businesses the capabilities of a huge corporation, but only if it’s the right solution. To stay abreast of emerging technologies that can truly help you, follow these tips.
Define what’s important
Before you even consider purchasing the latest software, reflect on your business goals to determine which type of technology will help you achieve them. For instance, professional service firms may focus on improving employee communications, while manufacturers may require better workflow automation.
Once your IT needs have been defined, you can focus your search on advanced technologies that specifically fit your business. And although businesses have numerous IT needs, small- and medium-sized enterprises should consider the following:
- Accounting software - applications like Sage Intacct can help accounting staff quickly consolidate finances
- Business continuity - disaster recovery plans and data backup solutions should be a top priority for all organizations
- Collaboration platforms - Office 365, Skype for Business, and SharePoint can boost employee productivity
- Hardware - workstations, scanners, servers and handheld devices should be installed depending on your company’s objectives
- Cybersecurity - antivirus, antispam, firewalls, and encryption systems can secure vulnerable networks and data
Search for open systems
If left to their own devices, each department might purchase software that helps only them, without thinking about integration and collaboration across teams.
When seeking new technology, oversee your entire operation and find open systems that benefit the entire company, not separate departments. If you’re using enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, make sure it can be integrated with document management and any other cloud applications that you might employ.
Invest in research
A portion of your time and budget should be assigned to studying current hardware, software, and network infrastructure trends. For smaller operations, this could mean following IT-related updates with RSS feeds as well as reading managed services blogs and tech news websites like CNET or Wired.
But if you’re already investing this much time and effort in keeping up with IT developments, you and your most tech-savvy employees might as well attend industry conferences and trade shows, too. Seminars discuss the latest innovations -- such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, and cloud-based ERP -- and how they could apply to different industries. This will narrow down your search.
Find out how other firms utilize IT
Ask other business leaders about their IT. The goal of these interactions is to share and gain exposure to different kinds of technologies and strategies. If a similar business is finding success with a particular device or application, then it’s sensible for you to evaluate how that technology might improve your IT infrastructure.
Take new technology for a spin
A lot of IT decisions and deployments are based on product specifications, marketing campaigns, and demonstrations. Although this may work for tried-and-true products -- like email servers or Microsoft Office -- it can present obstacles when you’re searching for an enterprise solution.
Establish a group of early-adopters from each department of your company and have them take the new device or application for a trial run. After the testing phase, which might take anywhere between one week to 30 days, your staff should report their experiences with the technology and assess whether it’s a viable option.
Ultimately, technology trends can open your business to new opportunities and methods that could give you an edge over your competition. But keep in mind that while technology trends can keep your business IT-relevant, it’s only advantageous if you follow the right ones. If virtual reality headsets or drones are not critical to achieving your objectives, they don’t have a place in your IT budget.
At WhiteOwl, we understand how much business leaders dislike being last. That’s why we stay constantly up-to-date with IT trends and offer nothing but the most current tech solutions. Give us a call today to keep pace with technology and beat your industry rivals to the punch.