Six rules for using tech to enhance your business performance
We live in an extremely technologically sophisticated age. No matter where you turn, you’re bound to see all kinds of innovative new devices promising to completely revolutionise the way we do everything, from getting fit, to following a nutrition plan, to planning for the future – and yes – organising your professional life.
However, many people feel sceptical about the increasing role of technology in business, and not without some justification too. There are always concerns surrounding privacy issues, and the investment that certain types of technology inevitably require.
Nonetheless, to take a negative stance towards technological innovations altogether, or to allow yourself to become overly cynical and avoid engaging with the new technologies that might be revolutionising your industry, is a surefire way of ensuring that you lag behind the competition and fail to take your business to the dizzying heights you could otherwise perhaps attain.
The key is striking the right balance. You need to have some ground rules set for how you relate to tech in your industry, and once you’ve got these rules in place, you may be able to increase your business performance and productivity to levels you would have otherwise thought impossible.
Here are some basic rules for using tech to increase your business performance, while maintaining the right balance.
Adopt an open-minded attitude towards tech in your business, for starters
Many “early adopters” of pioneering technologies rocket ahead of the competition long before everyone else gets the memo. Of course, new technologies do not always yield such impressive results, yet, your basic orientation towards tech developments in your business should be one of open-mindedness and the willingness to learn.
While you should be hesitant to throw yourself into a new technology headfirst and without any kind of reflection, there are immense benefits in being an “early adopter”.
If you see that some technology has burst onto the scene, and that you might have the chance to benefit from it before the competition all get their hands on it too, you should seize that opportunity and see what you can make of the opportunity that has been presented to you.
Technological innovations in business often represent serious paradigm shifts. The more you are able to “get ahead of the curve”, more of an advantage you will have.
Focus on identifying and using tech that reinforces and optimises things you already do in your business
Every business relies on certain fundamental systems, routines, and functions. You should not look at tech as a way of getting out of these fundamental duties, responsibilities, and ways of conducting yourself. Instead, you should look at tech as an excellent opportunity to reinforce and optimise those things you already do in your business.
If, for example, your business already involves a heavy degree of marketing via telephone, your first impulse should not be to find technology that can make this approach redundant off the bat. Rather, you should be thinking of ways in which the technologies that are available can streamline your call centres, and improve your customer’s experience on the line.
There is a quote attributed to Bruce Lee, which goes: “I do not fear the man who has practised a thousand punches once each. I fear the man who has practised one punch thousand times.”
This is essentially the kind of mindset you should have, for the most part, when it comes to your relationship with technology in your business.
Likely, you and your competitors will be doing many of the same things, and offering many of the same services. Your primary goal should not be to completely reinvent the wheel here, it should be to do those things better than the competition, or in a way which provides more benefits to the client or customer. Technology can certainly help you with that.
Look for tech that helps you to reduce or eliminate distraction, and focus more effectively
No matter what line of business you’re in, time is your most fundamental and essential resource. Warren Buffett is said to have once commented that “the difference between successful people and very successful people, is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” The basic point here is that by focusing your energies on fewer things, and by dedicating more time to those things you do, you are in a much better position to excel in a given area.
That being said, it is quite clear that today we live in a world where distraction is absolutely rife. The many lures of the Internet ensure that we are always liable to fall into a cycle of procrastination and to lose hours at a stretch.
Even if your “procrastination” is related to your business, you will be doing yourself no favours by constantly jumping back and forth between different potentially appealing strategies.
Technologies such as time tracking tools, project management systems, and streamlined network solutions, can go a long way in helping you to focus while simultaneously eliminating or, at least, reducing distraction.
If you, personally, are not as organised as you should be – then you should seriously consider bringing some task management and productivity tools into the equation. Nozbe, for example, is based on David Allen’s famous “Getting Things Done” system, and allows you to effectively process your “incoming tasks”, structure your projects, and identify what, in any instance, is the “next action” that you should be taken.
Understand that any form of technology is only a tool and that structural problems in your business are unlikely to be solved via new gadgets alone
The correct way to view a technology, is as a tool, not as something that will do the job of solving deep-seated structural problems in your business.
In some rare cases, it may indeed be the case that implementing a new technological solution helps you to move past a problem which has been hounding you for a significant amount of time.
That being said, however, it is always best to assume that a tool will help to magnify what’s already going on in your business, rather than fundamentally changing the structure of your business, or amending any fundamental flaws in your business model or strategy.
Think about your technological tools as “force multipliers”. The work of identifying and solving any structural issues in your company is another matter, and certainly one that deserves a great deal of attention and care.
The upshot of this, in part, is that you can certainly use new tech to help you more efficiently execute a plan for overall improvement, but that you should not expect that tech to do the job in and of itself.
Try and get a decent understanding of any tool, service, or gadget you’ll be using, in order to properly assess its benefits and shortcomings
No gadget or tool is absolutely foolproof, or is an unmitigated good. By the same token, no gadget or tool is likely to be all bad. How successfully you can use a given technology generally depends on your understanding of its core features, and your own savvy in leveraging and applying the tool as effectively as possible.
It should go without saying that before you dive into using a new tool or software, and before you determine that this is the future of your company, you should put in the time and work required to fully understand the tool and its limitations and possibilities.
This could mean going through an exhaustive process of research and trial and error, in the pursuit of understanding Square’s pro and cons, for example.
Try to avoid becoming prematurely jaded with a given technology, but at the same time, try to avoid becoming so enraptured and filled with enthusiasm and eagerness that you either jump the gun, or throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Ask yourself, “how can I use this new tech to provide added value to my clients or customers?”
Any business which wants to have a reasonable chance of thriving, has to operate on the basic principle that their job is really to provide as much value for the customer or client as possible. Companies which are driven by more “egocentric” considerations, inevitably fall into various pitfalls, and lose the trust of their prospective clients.
One of the fundamental questions that you should ask yourself when faced with any new piece of tech, therefore, should be “how can I use this tech in order to provide added value to my clients or customers, or to streamline their experience?”
In some cases, certain new technologies may go a long way in terms of helping your clients to find the right service for them, or to obtain effective customer support, in a hurry.
It may also be that a given technology will help to increase the quality of the good or service you provide in one, or another, fundamental way. This will, of course, not only make your client lives easier, but it can also do wonders for your professional standing.