Staying up to date with the latest technologies is a cornerstone of any successful business. While larger companies have well-funded research, engineering and IT departments that are capable of producing or upgrading to new technological advancements, small businesses must act largely on their own to accomplish the same task. However, regardless of the size of the company, it’s crucial that business owners remain flexible in any economic environment. Technology enables companies to streamline their operations and adapt to the latest realities in the marketplace. Here are four ways your company can successfully integrate the latest technology in business.
Onboard the Latest Requirements
It’s important to realize that not all technologies are optional. For instance, regulatory and industry updates can alter how companies in certain sectors must legally conduct business. A prominent example of this is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) passed in the European Union in 2018. Any company with customers in Europe, even just a small number, must take sweeping steps to keep those customers’ personal and financial data safe. Otherwise, the company could face hefty fines, which can total 20 million Euros – enough to close any small business.
Complying with GDPR means getting serious about cybersecurity while ensuring that customer data can be managed carefully. For most businesses, this means investing time, money and resources to getting the required technologies fully-functioning as quickly as possible. Onboarding the latest technology in business is always important, but in some cases, it’s actually mandatory. Knowing that, companies should be willing to adapt and invest in new technologies when required by law.
Test Early and Often
Prior to rolling out new technology in your small business, you’ll need to work out all the bugs, inefficiencies and potential flaws. Every new technology is intended to make operations more efficient and customer interactions smoother. If your company doesn’t spend enough time testing the technology, you can run into logistical headaches down the road, which can lead to a loss of revenue. To overcome this challenge, it’s vital that you test any new updates several months before they go live.
As with all aspects of IT, it’s important to be systematic. This is especially true for small businesses that may not have a comprehensive IT team in place. With so many responsibilities falling on the shoulders of a few team members, it’s too easy for testing, evaluating, improving and iterating to get deprioritized. To avoid this oversight, create a plan for ongoing testing throughout the year. Outline who will be involved, what will be tested and how success will be measured. Use this plan to evaluate the latest technology in business that you may want to implement, as well as the performance of existing software and IT systems. All companies should take these steps no matter the size of their tech footprint. If technology is important for any part of your business, it needs to be tested early and often.
Retrain Staff Members
All employees will likely have to be trained on how to use new technologies. Whether it’s a customer relationship management system or a workflow tracking tool, these updates are only effective if they can be used in your business on a daily basis. Set time aside to retrain staff members with hands-on, interactive education. Hold seminars, weekly meetings and recurring training sessions to ensure everyone is up to speed. This strategy will help make the transition to new technology painless and more efficient.
From a long-term perspective, consider investing in your employees to bolster their tech skills. Most businesses need tech-savvy talent, but the high demand is matched by short supply. Paying for current employees to get certifications, take courses or complete additional degrees helps them with professional development while making your own business more technologically adept. Once your team has those skills, your business is better equipped to use the latest technology in business to the fullest.
Plan Financially for Updates
As is the case with any adjustment to operations, it’s necessary to make sure your business doesn’t fall behind in the process. Additional training will cause downtime and cost money. Likewise, to pay for these new technologies, a large deposit may be required. However, by working with an alternative lender, your business can adapt quickly to new technologies without breaking the bank. With small business loans and equipment financing, you can maintain optimal cash flow at all times while still upgrading your business’ technology. This will help your company avoid any financial setbacks while successfully moving forward with your plans for business growth.