Get A Competitive Edge Through Both Business and Technology
It may be just my opinion, but it’s worth saying. Much of your competition is trying to compete with you with one hand tied behind their back. I know…interesting, right? They are stuck with the way their technology is trying to make them to do business; rather than to operate the way they could to grow their business. They are both business and technology solution handcuffed.
Of course large national businesses have IT organizations to try to solve their business technology challenges. They have problems too. But, their problems tend to show themselves through slow implementations of technology in business, or unmotivated personnel working in a large company. The competitors that you really face are other small and medium businesses in your industry. These businesses that have chosen the wrong technology, or have the wrong technology service provider keeping their growth at bay.
This is and avoidable problem. So, how do you avoid becoming bound by your technology to win in the market? Here are 6 ways that your business and technology can work better to grow faster:
1. Buy Future Proof Technology
There are many, many stories out there from merchants who have purchased or leased a point of sale system and/or financial system that has to be replaced in 5 or so years. Why? Because it was not cloud-based. They decide to use an in-house PC or server-based system. Though functionally the system is capable of doing everything you may need (with some minor exceptions) it is not an architecture that is future-proofed.
Why? First, to update the software with fixes or new functionality requires a scheduled process and time meaning that you may be “late to the party” while you wait, and your business is interrupted during the update. Second, you will have up-front installation costs and time, as well as being responsible for maintaining the system. Flat-out, in-house systems cost you more money and time to keep running. Cloud-based solutions are like mobile phones today; simple, easy, and always updated with the latest versions of your apps.
2. Identify ROI and Change Management
As a business owner or manager, you see a larger picture than your other employees. More often than not, you also see needed changes in your technology that impacts business processes. However, all too often decisions to change technology is done without a return-on-investment (ROI) analysis, and some changes result in hurting your bottom line rather than improving it for growth. So take time to do an ROI analysis on the cost of enhancements vs. impact on your bottom line to see if it makes sense.
3. Buy What You Plan to Use
We all know that great salespeople will try to get you to buy something you may not actually need. This also happens when a salesperson is selling you technology for your business. And technology today, whether it is software or hardware, comes with many options, and you may not need every option for your business. The rule of thumb is, buy only what your plan to use. In other words, if you don’t plan to use a certain feature or solution, don’t buy it!
4. Consider Tech Staff Alternatives
There is more than one way to ensure technical services and support to keep your business critical systems up-and-running. Often merchant businesses think that they need to hire someone to install, manage, and maintain their systems, but that is not the only way. You can also outsource staff and in many cases, get better services 24×7. For the outsource approach, you can pay a flat rate monthly service or maintenance fee. The service can manage and monitor your systems remotely to keep an eye on how they are doing, and be ready to fix a problem if it occurs.
5. Know Your Total Cost of Ownership
Tracking your total cost of ownership, or TCO, over a period of time will give you insights and information for make better business technology decisions. Most merchants do not know how much their POS system costs each year, but if they did, they very well may make some new decisions about how they use it. They might even changing it to a solution that meets their needs but with a reduced TCO. So take some time and run the numbers on your technology TCO, so that you don’t get caught spending more money than you should.
6. Protect Against Data Loss
We hear more and more about data security these days. Fraud and theft in cyber space is alive and well, not to mention possible data loss due to fire or flood damage, or just an inadvertent employee hitting the wrong button. Nothing could bring down a business faster than losing part or all your data at the wrong time, so you need to protect it. There are a few things to think about to ensure appropriate data protection is in place.
First, not every employee should have access to everything in your system, so implement access profiles roles for employees so that they only have access to the parts of the technology that they need. Second, implement a password management policy where the password is required to be changed regularly, or even go to a double authentication system for better protection. Additionally, make sure your technology service staff also have a secure password, especially remote access passwords to avoid intruders from getting into the system. Lastly, keep regular backups of your data as part of your maintenance services.