It’s 2019 and technology is always the talk of the town. Every business, and every person for that matter, uses technology in some way on a daily basis – whether dated or new, perhaps without even consciously realising.
However, those in the small business world that are joining in that conversation around tech regularly are arguably the ones experiencing the most growth. Successful use of technologies has the potential to maximise efficiency at all levels and within all sectors of a business.
With so many tech options in this digital age to choose from, it can be difficult to make the right decision for your company and needs. Is it a case of placing all trust in an expert or consultant, or are their more hands-on things you should be doing to tick that successful implementation box?
Today, that’s what Dynamic Business wants to find out for you! We ask the industry leaders, “How can you successfully implement new tech?”
As technology evolves, it is becoming more intuitive, user-friendly and affordable than ever before. It has the potential to solve problems and enact genuine positive change for businesses of any size. When implementing new technology, it’s important to first identify what problem you’re trying to solve and how you want the technology to alleviate that problem.
If you have lots of customers, for example, and need to better manage your relationship with them, you could implement a CRM system. Or if you want to improve internal communication, you might want to implement instant messaging software. Technology is adaptable, so you don’t have to find ways to make your business work around it, but instead customise it to suit your needs. And it’s also important to know that if it doesn’t work perfectly immediately, that’s OK. Analyse what is and isn’t working, make adjustments and watch it improve over time.
The correct use of technology in the workplace can be revolutionary. However, at times it can be difficult to ensure your team finds value in new technology. The key is to prepare for change so your team is set for long term use.
Here are a few of our tried and tested tips to ensure smooth sailing:
Review: Ensure any new software integrates with your existing solutions. Avoid band aid quick fixes, as they will lead to problems down the line.
Lead: Find a champion in your organisation that can work with your wider team, helping them to learn to use the new tools. Showcasing the value and ROI in a fun and interactive way.
Due diligence: Speak to other businesses that have previously implemented the technology. Ask about what worked and what didn’t for them.
Communicate: Articulate the purpose and benefits of the new tech, both for individuals and the wider business. This will encourage your team to invest their time in learning to use them.
ipSCAPE helps numerous businesses embrace new technology as they move from an on-premise solution to a cloud contact centre solution. It is increasingly apparent, that technology ecosystems in organisations are becoming more tightly integrated, and as a result, the very thought of implementing new tech components carries enormous risks.
Many organisations defer significant change precisely because of these perceived business risks.
Navigating this space successfully comes down to two factors: People & Process. A CIO may conduct a business transformation project a few times in their careers, whereas organisations like ipSCAPE – do this all day, every day. We understand the risks, and assist business leaders to avoid both the obvious and unseen traps. We do this with a rigorous process tempered by years of experience and hundreds of implementations. Organisations that actively communicate and collaborate throughout the process are the ones with the smoothest path and achieve the best outcomes for the business.
If your business is investigating new tech or carrying out an IT transformation, there are a few approaches you should consider to ensure smooth adoption and employee engagement.
First, work with a tech partner who knows your unique requirements rather than taking a DIY approach or buying something off the shelf. A DIY approach rarely lives up to expectations.
Second – when businesses introduce new tech, they often delegate the project to a siloed IT team and the tech vendor to manage, in isolation of the whole organisation and the individuals who will actually use it. Bring in a diverse group of influencers at the earliest possible stage of development – an executive sponsor, a subject matter expert and an end user – and use them in the decision and solution design process.
Third, the ultimate measure of success is that people are using the system. Aside from making the tech easy to use and embedded into existing processes, incorporating people in all parts of the technology process will ensure commitment to this new way of working.
Technology is a great asset for business owners as it allows them to operate more efficiently and provide an improved service for their customers. Take the payments industry, for example, which has evolved a great deal from the days of sending an invoice in the post. Whatever the purpose of the technology it’s important to always be mindful of the customer, and how technology will improve and impact their interaction with that business.
If, for example, a business switches from physical to digital invoices, it should ensure customers are informed about both the new process and the additional payment methods which are now available to them. Technology is helping streamline the payments process between businesses and their customers, but for the implementation to be truly successful, businesses should continually seek feedback from their customers and find out whether the technology improves their experience.
A recent Harvard Business Review study found that 69% of the $1.3 trillion spent on transformation was wasted. There are three areas to focus on to improve the chances of success.
Design: Don’t start with the technology, start by understanding your customer. What do they value? How do you design the processes that will unlock the value? Then identify the tools and technologies to enable these processes.
Change: An email update is not enough. You must engage stakeholders from the start and manage their expectations using plain, non-technical language. At the same time, reach out to subject matter experts in the business.
Deliver: Don’t overpromise. You must solve problems, not create new ones. Put quality first and be transparent and honest in your reporting. Stay the course and don’t forget to decommission legacy.
Once a business has decided that new technology is ‘good to go’, it’s important, where possible, to get it right from the start. The best thing that a business can do is hire an expert to help with the implementation. Do this so you can fast track the implementation curve. You then have someone who knows what they’re doing so you reduce rework and they can then teach the team how to use it, faster. Trying to upskill someone in house can extend the ‘learning lag time’ which can cost more than the salary that you’re paying them. It can also cost time and potential faster results. Hire an expert. Have them implement fast and then, have them teach the team how to use it effectively and efficiently.
The majority of organisations involve business representatives when selecting technology; however, not as many consider the customer. Too often, new technology is chosen without sufficient consideration of interoperability of all the organisation’s technology, resulting in an inconsistent and fragmented the customer experience. Digital business has three clear phases; with technology sharing information for the customer, then enabling the customer to transact on what they deem relevant or valuable, and ultimately with a platform being established for the business. When selecting business technology, two dimensions are to be considered; the opportunity identified and any existing problems. Finally, any company in today’s dynamic digital environment should ideally, prototype before implementation, be prepared to iterate then and post-implementation to ensure the most optimal outcome.
At InfoTrack, we strive to be the leading technology innovator. This means coming up with new ideas and finding new ways to grow because when our clients grow, we grow with them. But growth isn’t just due to our clients. Our values put our people first. Great ideas come from people who love what they do.
Communication amongst InfoTrack employees is considered vital to our culture. We encourage all employees to ask questions on anything related to their role or the business in general, whether they are directed towards their manager or the Executive team. Our employees often express that they find our Executive united and approachable, and they thrive on the passion, intellect and varied experience of the Executive.
In addition, we pride ourselves on operating transparently and having a flat structure with minimal hierarchy. InfoTrack management have an open-door policy and are open, honest and supportive.
Two of the biggest challenges faced by SMBs are limitations in time and resources. We know that technology is revolutionising the way we work, live and play and smart businesses utilise technology effectively as a tool to support growth and streamline processes.
When it comes to successfully implementing technology, businesses should see it as an opportunity to help solve a problem or make an existing process (or task) easier. At Shutterstock, we leverage technology to simplify and expedite our customers’ workflows.
That’s how businesses should view tech and part of the reason we’re so invested in innovation.
With the current proliferation of business technology tools, it’s easy for business leaders to feel overwhelmed with choice, especially when you’re trying to balance what different generations of knowledge workers need in order to do their best work. The most successful companies that I know cherry-pick their tech, an approach that allows them to better drive everything from productivity to employee satisfaction.
To determine the best software tools to introduce, it’s important to assess your options against a set of characteristics:
Is it user-driven?
Don’t rush into rolling out new tech offerings to employees for the sake of it. It is crucial to take a step back and assess what your employees want. Providing the tools they actually want helps driven better collaboration, commitment and productivity.
Is it interoperable?
Interoperability helps bridge any inter-generational or technology gaps within a business, giving all employees the ability to collaborate regardless of the tools they prefer. It’s important to consider this when making a decision on new business technology.
Is it frictionless?
The current work environment is complex and demands employees to use a wide variety of tools to get the job done. Providing the right tech that workers can seamlessly switch between frees up time for them to focus on the high-value tasks during their day
Putting the right technology in place is critical to streamlining your business processes, and providing a better experience for your employees and customers.
The rise in popularity and accessibility of digital business tools also means that there are now more options than ever when it comes to technology. So where do you start with finding the right tools for your business? You need to make sure that you start with the technology that best serves the core function of your business. Then worry about integrating other apps and systems from there.
For example, if you’re a builder and the key to your success is sending quotes and getting paid, then the most important technology to get right is something that helps you send and settle invoices. However, if your business is predominantly retail, the first piece of technology you implement may need to be software that caters to your vast inventory needs.
Businesses are undergoing digital transformation at a rapid pace, and as a result, technology leaders and their teams must quickly learn and deploy new technologies to support the overall business strategy. This makes a business’s technology skill development strategy paramount and a critical need to support technology teams who need to adopt and evolve to new technology emerging in their business.
To successfully implement new technologies, businesses much commit to up-skilling and re-skilling its team in all areas of technology by providing a skills development platform that is easily accessible, interactive, recommendation-based, and offered in real-time. A comprehensive skills development platform is an organisation’s silver bullet to ensuring both technology leaders and their teams stay one step ahead of the tech trend curve and their competitors.
Successfully implementing new business technology requires an innovation-first approach and an ambition to continually lead by example. At Elsight, we are passionate about exploring the ways in which we can deliver compelling live data transmission solutions in real-time through a multifaceted array of industries – from military defence and law enforcement to telemedicine and emergency first responders. What makes us excited about our technology is our team’s proud tradition of continuing to look at new and exciting ways to disrupt the status quo and push the boundaries in implementing new technologies that keeps us ahead of the curve.
For any business to be successful, there needs to be a bold recognition of the existing challenges that your business is faced with and a readiness to adapt to change by keeping an eye on the long road ahead. With this long term vision, the most successful tech companies are able to establish moats and keep ahead of their competitors, only introducing new technologies when and where real opportunities for growth and scale can be realised.
For a business to successfully roll-out new technology (for internal use by the business), the utilisation of that technology (and ultimately, the success of that project) requires “buy-in” from staff. Staff need to understand how the particular technology will improve processes within the business.
More importantly, staff need to appreciate how the technology will benefit them (e.g. saving them time, personally). New technology that adds an extra layer of complexity for staff (no matter how beneficial to the business) is less likely to be widely adopted.
For customer facing technology, a similar philosophy applies. To achieve positive customer utilisation rates, simplicity and ease of use are critical. Customers take only seconds to judge new technology, so a slick and well-designed user interface is critical.
The first step to implementing the right technology for your business is to have a very clear understanding of the business problem that you wish to solve. Is your business struggling with team collaboration? Or is it managing a sales pipeline a convoluted and timely process? Defining your operational challenges will help you in identifying the types of technology your business needs.
When choosing new technologies you also need to consider deployment and training. With any new tool, to ensure uptake by your team, you need to ensure that they are adequately trained and have a clear understanding of how to use the technology. If the new technology is not intuitive to use, or too complex, then you risk not getting the best return for your investment.
To implement technology successfully, you need to invest in the right tools. There are thousands of products that will cut down on admin time; finding those that will demonstrate ROI and genuinely improve the lives of those using them, is a different story.
But glossy logos and jazzy websites can hide true functionality and too many SaaS products sell the dream but deliver below clients’ expectations.
Buy the tech that meets your business case. Make sure it will scale with you as your business changes and, importantly, that it will integrate with other solutions. Ensure it offers reliable user support, during implementation and beyond, and is funded well so it can continue to support you in the future. And, finally, as businesses are overflowing with outdated tech that has not been developed over time, invest in the platforms that have a clear development plan and product update roadmap.
Business technology increases productivity and efficiency, but the initial implementation can be challenging. Some team members can feel threatened or worried about workload and resist change.
One strategy to address resistance is enlisting advocates for the new project. Identify early tech adopters and engage them through training and free time to help colleagues. Make sure they are clued-up on the advantages and understand the outcomes of the new technology. Their excitement will become infectious. Soon your whole team will recognise the value of the tools and how to get the most out of them.
Originally published in Dynamic Business by Loren Webb.
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