Ask yourself these questions to find out if your tech is keeping up with — or falling behind — the competition.

Keeping your operation up-to-date with the latest technology is challenging. Sure, it can be expensive and it takes time to research, install and implement. However, it’s critical in order for organizations to stay competitive.

  • Customers expect enjoyable, efficient and seamless experiences from the companies they work with. They’ll move on to your more modern competitors if it’s too hard to do business with you.
  • Employees provide better service — and are happier and more engaged — when they have access to easy to use software and systems. They’ll jump ship and work for someone else if it’s too hard to provide good customer service or do their jobs.
  • Add to that the pressure to leverage advancements like artificial intelligence. AI can only be supported by the latest hardware and software.
  • Plus, there’s the constant concern about data security. Old tech is an open invitation to cyber crooks to hack your systems and steal your data.

All this can seem overwhelming to business owners and leaders.

How do you know if you’re keeping up?

Here are some core concepts you should consider, along with questions you must ask yourself, to ensure you’re staying current with the latest tech advancements.

1. Is the technology you’re using delivering ultimate value for your clients?

If your answer is “no” or “not sure”, it could be time to look into updating it.

Consult with experts to find out if there are innovations that could help you:

  • Deliver better customer experiences
  • Offer higher quality products
  • Provide better levels of service
  • Create efficiencies that reduce prices while adding value
  • Protect customer data and privacy.

If you find opportunities for improvement, document a solid business case before you make any updates. Do a cost benefit analysis to ensure any new technology will pay for itself. Make sure you will see improvements in key metrics like customer retention, sales, productivity, referrals and more. If you’re not sure, bring in partners from across your business to run the numbers with you and consider possible scenarios. Or contact the pros at GeeksHD, who are always available to advise you.

Here are some other related questions to ask yourself and the people on your team:

  • Can we afford to wait to upgrade our customer-facing technology?
  • What issues will making a change resolve?
  • How will an upgrade provide added customer value?
  • What’s it like for people to do business with you right now?

2. How would you describe your technological infrastructure?

If you answered “messy” or “haphazard”, it may be time to clean things up.

As organizations change or evolve, their technology is updated, often in haphazard or as-needed ways. Some organizations have IT systems based on a range of coding languages, data structures, integration requirements and support arrangements. Over time, nothing really works together quite right.

Customers sense it.

Employees know it.

Modern tech platforms have changed all that. Standardization has made it simple for systems to connect together and interact more fully. There’s no need to hire people to develop patches that might work now, but could self destruct the next time you make a system change.

Modernizing will clean up tech messes that could bring down your operation. It will also integrate things so you can deliver a smoother customer experience. On top of all that, it provides a clean foundation for future business growth.

Here are some other related questions to ask yourself and the people on your team:

  • Where do we have opportunities to simplify our tech network?
  • What hurdles are employees and customers forced to overcome everyday?
  • What are our opportunities for growth if we clean up our systems?
  • Will we be better able to retain top talent if we make doing their jobs easier?

3. Is your business able to keep up?

If your answer is that you feel like your business is falling behind, it could be time for a tech-related productivity boost.

Things are changing all the time. Modern organizations must be ready to adapt so they can keep up with the competition. This requires constantly changing and updating products, services, processes and procedures. They need systems that are flexible enough to stay current with what’s happening in their industries.

Old school tech systems and software were designed to do one or two specific things. If businesses wanted to evolve, they were often held back by this. Today’s modular systems are far more flexible. They can easily be updated and reconfigured. It’s what’s required for businesses today to keep up with the rapid pace of change. If you have an idea, you can make it a reality in minutes rather than months.

Before you invest in a new IT system, test it out before you implement it fully. Release a simplified version of the system to a limited group of employees or customers. Monitor use of it. Ask the early adopters how it’s working out for them. Find out what they like about it and which features turn them off. This will help you figure out whether it will work out for your business before you make a big investment in it.

Here are some other related questions to ask yourself and the people on your team:

  • What parts of your operation are currently holding you back?
  • What’s preventing you from becoming an industry leader?
  • How could you be better able to adapt in the future?
  • Where has your organization failed when it came time to make a change? What could have prevented it?

4. How does your workforce feel about your technology or systems?

If you’re not sure, it’s time to ask.

Two of the key factors when it comes to retaining employees, are ease of doing their jobs and how they feel about the future of your organization. These two things are closely related.

If your employees are constantly working around antiquated technology to get their work done, they’ll feel dissatisfied with their jobs and be more likely to go to work for your competitors. This forces you to spend money and time to find people to replace them. You also have an ongoing knowledge drain on your business, with your best ideas and business secrets being delivered to the competition.

Think about how much these issues will cost your business over the long term. Then consider the price of investing in new technology. When you also factor in an increase in productivity, it’s likely that an investment in new software and systems will seem like a smart one.

When it comes time to upgrade technology, make sure you involve your team in the process. This will help demonstrate that you have a collaborative culture that cares about what people think. You’ll get a double win if you take steps to make people’s jobs easier and involve them in identifying the solution.

Here are some other related questions to ask yourself and the people on your team:

  • What do we all need to work more effectively?
  • What parts of your job do you dislike doing?
  • How often do you have to do tech work arounds and what are they?
  • How does your employee retention compare with your competitors? What’s driving the difference?

5. Do you think about technology as an asset or a service?

If you consider it an asset, it could be time to update your thinking.

The old school mindset about technology considers it an asset that an organization owns and operates.

A more modern approach thinks of it as a service that a company uses, but doesn’t necessarily own. This makes it possible for them to leverage it while it still provides value, and easily change it out when it becomes obsolete. This gives them greater flexibility and allows them to select the best options from top providers that optimally meet their needs.

This could be a complete change to how you think about the IT function. It’s like the difference between owning a house and renting an apartment. One provides ownership but is inflexible and makes you maintain and update things on your own. The other may not be owned, but it provides a lot of flexibility and an expert maintains and updates the infrastructure.

When tech services are outsourced and dynamically managed, anything that’s no longer working can easily be adapted or replaced by an expert. You’re no longer tethered to a tech solution because you own it. You only have to think about whether it’s paying off for your business. If it’s not, you have instant access to better alternatives.

Here are some other related questions to ask yourself and the people on your team:

  • Do I own my technology, or am I owned by it?
  • Can I quickly replace a software or tech solution that’s not working?
  • What parts of my tech do I need to own and which should I outsource?
  • What more could I do if I weren’t chained to owning my systems and software?

6. What does the future look like?

Whether you can or can’t imagine it, now is the time to consider what your ideal business looks like tomorrow, and the day after and the year after that. Too many business owners and leaders limit their thinking to their bank accounts. They don’t give themselves the freedom, especially after the start up stage, for their imaginations to take flight. Small investments in things like tech upgrades prevent them from reaching their full potential.

Starbucks WAS a coffee shop. Then it became THE coffee shop. Amazon was a book seller. Then it grew into the everything seller. Google? Enough said.

None was held back by a relatively small tech bill that could have limited their success. Why should you be?

You owe it to yourself to imagine your ideal business. Why not leverage technology in the best way possible to make your dreams real? Contact the experts at GeeksHD to find out how we can help you use the right software and systems to make your business the next Starbucks, Amazon or Google.

Here are some other related questions to ask yourself and the people on your team:

  • What’s holding us back?
  • Why aren’t we achieving our full potential?
  • Could a tech upgrade take us into the future we imagine?
  • What would it take to make us be all we could be?