Leveraging technology is a Must to Grow Your Bottom Line

Leveraging technology in today’s high-tech world is a must for growing a business and improving the bottom line. Here are four ideas to help you get started.

Think long term, think strategic

Create a long-term (three- to five-year) plan that provides the framework for information-technology-related decisions, projects and operations. Taking the time to develop a plan will turn the company into a forward thinker, with a proactive and well-thought-out approach to issues, rather than a company that merely reacts to changes in needs and technology.

The best plans are created by involving as many people from across the company as possible and are tightly aligned with your company’s strategic goals. Don’t start with a specific solution or technology in mind. Instead, your plan should answer the following questions:

·  What are your long-term business goals or priorities?

·  What business capabilities do you need in order to achieve your goals?

·  How can you use technology to develop new business capabilities?

By working through these questions as a group, your team can quickly identify the technology solutions that will have the greatest impact on your business.

Be engaged

As a business leader you play a critical role in planning and managing technology within your business. Don’t leave your IT team guessing what the business needs. You can increase your involvement in IT planning by:

·  Getting to know your IT team. Technical staff often struggle to communicate effectively with business stakeholders; coach them on how to work with you and your team.

·  Formalizing how you make IT decisions to give business areas a voice in setting priorities.

·  Opening the door for your IT team to present you with new ideas or options by learning to describe your needs in terms of desired capabilities, not specific technology solutions.

Follow the money

One of the challenges of developing a long-term technology plan is that there are usually more ideas than funding. A good rule of thumb is to invest in technology for areas of the business that make you money. For example: if you are a sales-driven organization, invest in sales management software; if your organization is in manufacturing, look for systems that will help manage inventory and distribution.

If your business struggles with setting priorities for IT spending, start asking staff:

·  Will the solution help generate new revenue?

·  Will the solution make the business more efficient or productive?

·  Will the solution reduce risk?

For a solution to help your organization leverage technology, you should be able to answer yes to at least one of these questions – if you can’t, then the solution may not be the best place to invest your technology budget.

Be open to new ways of operating

Technology is changing rapidly; business IT solutions that were cutting-edge five or 10 years ago seem outdated and clunky today. As a business manager you must be open to new solutions to enhance your IT capabilities if you don’t want to be left behind by your competitors.

An example of a newer technology that is having a broad impact on business is the cloud. Some businesses have enthusiastically adopted cloud technologies and report significant savings. Yet many other companies are reluctant to adopt due to fears over loss of control, flexibility and security risks. With so many conflicting opinions, how do you know if a new technology solution is right for your business?

When considering new technologies, exercise the same diligence you would apply to any other significant operational investment by asking:

·  Is this a reputable vendor?

·  How long has this solution been commercially available?

·  Are my business information and interests protected?

·  Does the solution solve our business challenges and/or processes?

·  What is the total cost of ownership compared to other solutions?

Satisfactory answers to these and similar questions can give you confidence that a new technology may be suitable for your organization.

Your IT resources can be much more than just a utility – they can help move your business forward. A modest investment in technology planning, paired with leadership from the business side of your company, can give your company a strategic advantage and even make the organization more productive and profitable.

By Elizabeth Vannan, MNP LLP

Read more at: https://www.biv.com/article/2015/8/leveraging-technology-must-grow-your-bottom-line/