In today’s digital age, the reality is beginning to dawn on business owners and consumers alike: every industry is a technology industry. Or rather, every industry needs technology to survive. From oil drilling off the coast of Texas to filling bagels and schmear orders, the proliferation of technology in the workplace is perhaps the single most important thread keeping a business from plummeting off into obscurity.
But it doesn’t have to be as dour as all of that. Knowing that technology is the key is half the battle; the other half is knowing how to utilize it. Luckily, there are people that can help you with that. Taking inventory of your business, and of your competitor’s business is how you get the measure of technology’s role in your industry. That doesn’t mean that you have to do what your competitors are doing — in fact, diversity drives competition and gives more power to the consumer. All good things. But there are a few questions you can ask yourself in order to get the measure of how technology is being used in your industry. Once you know that, you can work to innovate it. Those questions are:
- What is the area(s) that my business could use the most growth? Identifying this is the important first step to breaking through the glass ceiling. Maybe your business has a problem with procurement, or there’s a breakdown on the fulfillment side in the warehouse, and picking it off. Maybe you are unable to process orders because your app or website is antiquated. Find the gaps in your business, then find the technology to fill them.
- How is my competition dealing with the same issue? There is no problem with looking over the fence now and then to see what your neighbors are doing. In fact, taking stock of how they operate will not only help you measure the progress of the race you’re both running, and your positions on the track, but it will help you see areas where they’re deficient. Anticipating the customer’s needs by seeing potential future breakdowns in your competitor’s process will help you make a solution before the problem even begins.
- What is the most efficient way to improve how the industry currently operates, regarding these issues? Once you have identified areas of improvement for your company and surveyed your closest competitors to see how they are handling the same problem, then the question becomes about improving the current solution. How would this same process work if component X was tweaked, or component Z was replaced? There are always ways to innovate, and if you don’t have the infrastructure to do so, that’s when you reach out to an agency, or other professionals, for help.
- Is there technology that exists to address my issue? Chances are that you can innovate simply by being aware that another option exists. By going through the exercise of answering these questions, as well as utilizing the experience you’ve gleaned from doing the job, you know what the standards and benchmarks are for your industry. That will help you meet and exceed them.
The Professionals That Professionals Hire
Once you have assessed your business and identified places to improve, asked the crucial questions, learned what the competition is doing, and decided how to build off from that, then comes the process of implementation. You may feel your team is ill-equipped to handle the bulk of the changes yourselves. That’s okay! Marketing and development agencies exist for a reason, and not only can help with the technological heavy lifting but are great at consulting on ways to innovate what the market is trending towards.
When reaching out to these firms, they will likely ask you some form of the questions listed above. As you describe to them what you’ve found, they will be able to confer with their team–made up of content wizards, social media experts, development and coding gurus, and a Rolodex full of helpful contacts–and strategize the best next steps for you to take. They may even help you find creative ways to incorporate technology into your business that wasn’t previously available, like how pizza companies let you build a pizza digitally before they made it in real life, or how architects and renovators let you see the finished product and take a tour of the building before they’ve even started construction.
Future-proofing Your Business Through Integration
The exciting prospect of going through this journey is knowing that you are making your business more reliable to future customers, and therefore more prone to surviving and flourishing. The act of integrating technology into your business is not easy, but it’s essential, and there are a lot of companies out there that have made it their business to help you. Eventually, you will be so used to the technological tools that you won’t have reservations about innovating your company the next time there is a shift in technology. By that point, you will see the value in always staying competitive in that space.
Author Bio:Spencer Hunter is a freelance journalist living in Orem, UT. Spencer loves Game of Thrones, hiking, and baking sourdough bread during quarantine. When it comes to business and writing, Spencer is dedicated to providing the best content he can.