Since the rise of the internet revolution, technology is not a supporting function any longer. Instead it has become an important driver of business growth for organizations of all sizes and from all sectors. Small businesses from non-technology sectors often find the task of trying to develop a technology strategy to be rather daunting, although most of these business don’t even have one.
The companies are not only strapped for cash, but they also have little to no internal capabilities when it comes to technology as well as very little access to expert advice.
When a company does not have an effective technology strategy it can really be a drain on business resources, pushing the organization further behind the competition or even at times causing the organization to go out of business.
In this article we will provide useful advice to small business owners on how to get started. The following are some of the important factors that need to be considered when developing an effective technology strategy for a small business.
Government And Legal Compliance
Planning for technology to keep the business in government and legal compliance is the top priority. The last thing that a business wants to have happen is to get distracted away from its core trade and potentially going bankrupt having to contest litigations. As an example, a restaurant needs to have technology planned for Employee Time sheets, PCI Compliance, Sales Tax, etc.
Customer Experience And Core Business
Technology that facilitates customer experience and core business comes next. They are the services that customers pay for and generate revenue directly. A business must plan appropriately and allocate funding for this area. As an example, in order for a restaurant to be success, it needs to have good technology for taking customer orders and execute service and in the kitchen.
If customers don’t receive the food they ordered or receive it late, it will affect the business of the restaurant. Providing customers with free WiFi internet can help to improve customer experience.
Digital Reputation And Marketing
To attract customers, a business must not only let customers know that it exists, but it must also make a buzz continuously in order to stay ahead of its competition. For any business’ success, effective marketing is an extremely critical factor. In the internet savvy world of today, a majority of customers search about products and services online before purchasing it.
That makes having a good online reputation and maintaining it very important for all businesses. This is the next thing that a business needs to pay for and appropriate funds need to be allocated. As an example, a restaurant may want to set up a website to inform customers about their restaurant as well as the menu.
For digital reputation and marketing, it should set up and maintain an active presence on social networking platforms like Yelp, Twitter and Facebook. It can be more effective to use internet marketing methods instead of using traditional marketing channels since a larger audience can be reached at a much lower cost.
Operational Effectiveness And Efficiency
The next thing that needs to be considered is planning for technology that is related to improving operational effectiveness and efficiency. Investing in technology for operational efficiency helps to reduce costs, cut down on waste and improve your bottom line substantially.
Whenever savings from improved efficiency are more than the cost of the technology, it is a worthwhile investment. As an example, when a restaurant has technology for material planning and inventory, it can reduce food spoilage and inventory carry cost substantially, which adds directly to profits.
The Cloud, Outsource Or In-source
After you have determined what you want, then it is time for you to plan how these capabilities can be acquired. A majority of non-technology small business have no or minimal internal capability. In addition hiring staff for areas outside of the core of the business can be very expensive. So, unless a business already has employees with technology skills, taking the in-sourcing route might not be a very good strategy.
These days, most of the finest technology, both software and platforms, are usually available on the cloud. It should be considered as the first preference. For a small business, in addition to being cost effective, the cloud also enables a business to remain focused on what its core strengths are. Outsourcing can be considered, but only for things that aren’t available on the cloud.
Data Security And Strategy
After planning what is needed, along with how it can be acquired, it’s also very important to plan for and research retention, data storage and security strategy. It is critical that data storage be in compliance with all government laws for usage, encryption standards, retention period, physical location and other factors.
Before making a final decision on purchasing services with a cloud service provider, all agreements must be reviewed first. Usually cloud platforms come with the finest breed security infrastructure. When data is in-house it can add to safety and security costs.
Review On A Regular Basis
Always plant to review your Technology Strategy on a regular basis so that it stays in alignment with your business goals as well as other aspects that were discussed above. Keep in mind that the market, competitors, customer expectations, technology and laws are constantly change, so your strategy must as well in order to stay aligned.
Effective technology strategy for you business? Consult Sistema Technologies today for IT services.