Technology is always improving. Since the beginning of modern civilization, people have been improving existing concepts and developing new and better ways of accomplishing the same tasks.
This progression of technology is great, but it can be a bit scary for businesses that don’t have massive R&D departments or deep pockets. If your business must carefully consider each new decision and investment before proceeding, it can feel like you’re too slow and clumsy to progress with the times. And you may be!
But if you study the changing American workplace, you’ll notice that many of today’s small and medium-sized businesses are attempting to overcome these deficiencies and develop forward-thinking strategies that put an emphasis on staying ahead of the technology curve. You can, too.
The “Why” Behind Keeping Up With Technology in the Workplace
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This is a popular saying – and there’s a ton of truth to it – but it’s important that you don’t just take the phrase at face value and apply it to every single decision your business faces. In 2016 and beyond, businesses can’t afford to wait until things break. If you don’t keep up with technology – and stay one step ahead of the game, for that matter – Axis Technical Group is quick to point out that any of the following could happen:
- Fall behind. If everyone else is moving forward and your business is standing still, you’re actually falling behind. You may be able to sustain revenue for a few months, but you won’t last long in a competitive market.
- Become irrelevant. When you fall behind, you start to become irrelevant. People stop talking about your business, press coverage dies, and marketing effort falls on deaf ears.
- Missed opportunities. Even if you still have value to offer customers, lagging behind on the technology front means you’re missing out on opportunities to grow.
“Technology will continue to advance and customers will find new and exciting ways to use it,” Axis Technical group notes. “If an organization continues to resist progress and decides not to keep up with technology, they are likely to fade away into obscurity.” If you think about it, obscurity is the ultimate death sentence. It’s at this point that your business withers away and your customers move on. That’s why you have to keep up.
Five Ways Leading Companies are Taking Action
But how do you stay up to date? It’s not always as easy as identifying a new technology, adopting it, and reaping the rewards. Moving forward is risky. You don’t have the benefit of hindsight and are often forced to guess what’s worth trying.
1. Be a Fast Follower
“The days of creating a 3-year technology plan are over, but that doesn’t mean that you should let your company pursue every new technology or trend that presents itself,” says entrepreneur Eric Holtzclaw. “My advice – be a fast follower. Hang back and give a new idea or approach a 6 to 9 month window to see if it will work by allowing another company to be the first to implement and deploy.”
Holtzclaw references the example of QR codes. The first companies who jumped on this technology were so quick that they actually ended up getting the entire application wrong. It was the companies who kept an eye on the technology, but waited a few months, that were able to implement more successful applications.
2. Have a Strategy for Disposing and Acquiring
For some companies, new technology actually means new equipment. In this situation, there are a bunch of hurdles to overcome in terms of keeping up with new trends. It’s not as simple as switching from one software provider to the next. You actually have to dispose of existing technology and acquire upgraded alternatives.
So, in order to prepare for onboarding new technology, these businesses are having to develop strategic plans for selling existing technology. This requires careful timing.
“In any free market, supply and demand affect prices of commodities,” industrial auction site Aucto says. “Unsurprisingly, this fact goes for used equipment as well. When pricing, it’s good to do a little research on the current trends in your intended market. Make sure to see if demand is high or supply is low. If there are too many similar items or very few people buying, that may hurt your chances of getting maximum value out of your items.”
3. Keep an Eye on the Competition
When you think about the most technologically advanced companies in the world, Apple comes in at the top, right? Well, even an innovative company like Apple recognizes the need for keeping an eye on the competition.
According to reports, Apple tapped LG for its iPhone 7 dual-camera. They noticed that LG was doing something better than they were and made a quick decision to learn as much as they could from them. This shows just how important it is to stay abreast of the competition.
4. Be a Student of the Industry
One way to stay on top of trends is to be a student of the industry. Slack is the perfect example of this. Did you know that the company’s first product was actually a game called Glitch? The game emphasized social exploration and had a sizeable following, but company leaders realized that the app industry was headed in an entirely different direction. As a result, they shut Glitch down and focused on Slack, a chat app for work.
Slack is currently valued at an estimated $3.8 billion, which shows that being a student of the industry can really pay off.
5. Adopt a Technology Awareness Strategy
Your business may benefit from a technology awareness strategy. According to entrepreneur Brian J. Nichelson, a good technology awareness strategy consists of four parts: (1) Determine your needs, (2) Assess the resources available to you, (3) Rank the resources in order of usefulness to you, and (4) Make or allow the time to use the resources.
How Will You Stay Ahead of the Curve?
Do you have a plan for evolving with your industry? Leading companies are placing an emphasis on technological adaptation and you should as well.
It’s not always easy, but it’s entirely necessary.
This article was written by Larry Alton from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.