Technology is a practical requirement of every modern business. You’ll use computers throughout the workday to communicate with others, manage projects, and coordinate resources. You’ll rely on cloud computing, email servers, data storage, artificial intelligence and countless other tech services to operate. And over the years, you’ll be responsible for finding and integrating new technologies into your business if you want to remain competitive and continue increasing efficiency.
The trouble is, integrating new technology can sometimes be problematic. While technology can often lead to increased efficiency, increased productivity, and increased profitability – this is far from a guarantee. If you want to integrate new technology effectively, you’ll need to be on the lookout for the critical challenges that stand in your way – and find a way to avoid them.
Starting With the Right Motivation
First, you need to confront your own motivation for incorporating new technology in the business. Namely, are you adopting new technology purely for its own sake? Are you interested in buying the latest gadgets or upgrading to the latest service just because you can?
You need to have a measurable, objective reason for upgrading. Are you interested in greater security? Higher efficiency? A function that your current technology infrastructure can’t handle? There are plenty of valid reasons for upgrading or adding to your technological arsenal, so if you don’t have something concrete, it may not be worth upgrading.
Choosing the Right Development Partner
If you’re custom building a new solution, you’ll need to choose the right development partner. A bad choice here could leave you with a faulty product, an unprofitable venture, or other protracted headaches.
When reviewing potential partners, you’ll need to consider the following, at minimum:
- Capabilities. What are the capabilities of this organization? Do they have the manpower necessary to build you a product in a timely manner? Do they have the experience, credentials, and/or resources to accomplish what you need? What kind of reviews and testimonials do they have to offer?
- Timeline. In some cases, you may be under pressure to construct and deploy a new system quickly. Not all agencies will be able to meet your demands – especially if they’re backed up with previous projects.
- Ongoing support. Most tech projects aren’t one-time deals. You’ll need to find a partner who’s willing to provide you with ongoing support – including regular updates and upgrades and fixes to problems that inevitably arise.
- Price. You’ll also need to consider price. You may be able to find an agency that serves you well in every capacity – but if it’s too expensive, it could wreck your budget.
Creating (or Finding) the Right Solution
If you’re buying an established solution, you’ll need to do a thorough review to ensure it meets all of your needs – without being so bulky that it causes you to lose money.
- Accessibility. How easy is it for your employees to access this technology? Platforms that can be accessed from any device with an internet connection and systems that are convenient have an edge here.
- Intuitiveness. Intuitive platforms don’t require much training or education to use properly. They also tend to be used consistently, regardless of the individual preferences of the users utilizing them.
- Core functionality. Obviously, you’ll need to think about what it is this platform does. What is its primary purpose?
- Integrations. How does this platform fit with the rest of your tech infrastructure? Is it easy to establish integrations? Are there any gaps that need to be closed?
- Future potential. Are the developers actively supporting this product? Will they continue to add to it and/or improve it in the future?
Managing Existing Technologies and Integrations
There aren’t many modern businesses that need to build a new technology infrastructure entirely from scratch. Instead, they likely already rely on many devices, systems, and software applications to make the business work properly. In many cases, businesses will need to find a way to maintain continuity; their existing solutions need to remain operational during the transition and may need to be compatible with future tech products permanently.
Fortunately, more modern tech solutions are designed to be integration-friendly and modular, so it’s easy to adapt to new systems.
Getting Stakeholders Onboard
Oftentimes, stakeholders will need to be convinced that the technology investment is going to be a profitable one. If they’re traditionalists who favor old-school business practices or if they’re unconvinced of the benefits of switching, this can be an uphill battle.
Convincing Employees to Favor Change
Stakeholders aren’t the only ones who may need to be convinced. As you’re integrating a new POS system, a new customer portal, a new project management platform or something similar, you’ll need to think about how your employees are going to respond. Most people are, by default, reluctant to embrace change; if you tell them you’re overhauling the system they’ve used for the last 10 years, they may resist the idea.
To be successful here, you need to ensure the new addition is going to mark a positive change – and warm employees up to the concept gradually.
Your new tech systems won’t mean much unless your employees are willing and able to use them consistently (and as you intended them to be used). This often means you need to spend time training your employees to use this tech correctly – and provide them with helpful resources they can consult if they need assistance.
You bought this new piece of technology to increase efficiency. How can you tell if it’s doing its job? Startups need to measure the effectiveness of their new tech if they’re going to be confident in its usefulness. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of continuing to pay for an inefficient or ineffective product.
- Usage. If this is customer-facing technology, are your customers actually using it? If it’s an internal system, have employees adopted it – or are they resisting it in some way?
- Bottom line performance. Depending on the platform, you’ll likely have several bottom-line performance metrics you can use to determine the platform’s effectiveness. For example, does the new automated phone dialing system allow salespeople to make 10 percent more calls each hour? Does your new online portal boost total sales?
- Profitability. It’s great to know that your new technology is effective – but does it offer a positive return on investment (ROI)? Think about how much you’re paying to use this technology. Does it provide a measurable benefit in excess of those expenses?
New Security Concerns
You’ll also need to think about the new security concerns that will likely be introduced by your acquisition of new technology. As your startup becomes more technologically complex, it’s going to present bigger, more complicated security challenges.
- Third-party vulnerabilities. If your entire business relies on the software provided by a third-party vendor, and that vendor suffers a massive data breach, is your company going to be affected? Managing third-party vulnerabilities must become one of your highest priorities.
- Internal dependencies. Which internal systems are dependent on each other for operative success? If you experience an outage or a problem, you need to be able to navigate this web cleanly.
- Employee and operational flaws. Employees can become security risks if they don’t follow best practices. Each new platform that requires an employee login can potentially be hacked – and easily so – if your employees don’t practice good password management habits.
The Promise of New Technology
These challenges can be intimidating, especially for a young entrepreneur attempting to create a startup from scratch or scale one to new heights. But the promise of technology makes all the extra effort worth it. With the right setup, you can easily multiply your productivity, reduce your costs, and establish a scalable model that’s relatively easy to expand. All you have to do is recognize these key challenges proactively and devise a strategy to help you deal with them in turn.