Most companies equate their identity with the products or services they sell. When asked what your business does, you may reply with: “We’re an e-commerce organization,” “We’re an apparel company,” “We’re a fashion brand,” or “We’re a biotechnology firm.”
But these assessments usually don’t describe the entire picture. Savvy business owners realize that – first and foremost – they’re technology companies selling products or services. When questioned about their identity, they might say, “We’re a technology company that happens to sell [product or service].”
We’ll explain why you should adopt the tech-company mindset in your company’s culture and identity.
Why every company is a technology company
Today’s companies and consumers use a massive amount of technology. Consumers use technology to speed things up and make transactions transparent. Businesses use it to better serve their customers, and shorten customer service cycles and the sales process.
Because of this tech focus, we recommend prioritizing the technological components of your organization that informs nearly every aspect of running your business.
Here are four primary reasons why every company is a tech company.
1. Customer expectations are different in a digital-first world.
Whether you sell to consumers or focus on B2B sales, customers’ expectations have evolved in a digital-first world. Your clients expect your business to offer the latest tech advancements and strategies. For example, they may expect you to have a website and mobile app, offer live chat services and provide instant account information. One of the reasons for these tech expectations is the continuing cross-pollination of consumer and business technology.
In the past, serious enterprise technologists would disregard consumer technology. Today, most leading-edge enterprise technology methods and practices come from the consumer world. Whether it’s mobile payment options, social media trends, or advances in design and interaction, there is much more crossover between consumer and business technology.
Your customers, partners and employees operate in the consumer world and are privy to the latest tech advances. In particular, customers expect the personalized service and experience that technology can provide. Offering these personalized experiences to customers is an enormous opportunity for your business to meet clients’ needs. To take advantage of tech trends, you’ll require flexible technology systems.
Tip: Tracking industry trends is an excellent way to stay updated on the latest tech advancements specific to your industry.
2. Competitive landscapes continue to accelerate.
A fiercely competitive landscape is the new normal in business. Companies must be able to rapidly adopt, integrate and beat the competition by deploying new technologies.
Consider what happened to companies that didn’t evolve with the latest technology, such as Kodak, Blockbuster and Research in Motion (RIM). You may not think your company will become obsolete, but neither did these companies. When faced with innovations around them, they were so wedded to their current business model they didn’t anticipate the future.
These companies faced difficult challenges amid a rapidly changing tech landscape. They were wary of cannibalizing their existing business model for what could have been temporary fads. And they were so massive that changing would’ve required years of effort.
What do you do in this situation? It’s advisable for companies to make one small bet each quarter, and if that turns out to be a winner, put more resources into it.
In an evolving tech landscape, your company must manage its current business while continually probing new models systematically. This means rapidly developing solutions and infrastructure to explore a new space, then quickly ramping up if the opportunity turns out to be significant.
Tip: Because technology advancements should be an ongoing project, roll out new solutions before they’re perfected to gain customer feedback and improve future iterations.
3. Product life cycles are shortening.
With software changing every aspect of how companies operate, product and service life cycles are shortening. Products that used to have decade-long refresh timelines now get updated within 12-24 months.
Services like sales, marketing, legal, product development and merchandising must be agile enough to react in tandem to emerging opportunities. A big part of creating this agility across departments is implementing software and technology systems that enhance everyone’s ability to react to change.
Did you know? The Netflix digital disruption model is an example of digital transformation and innovation. The company stayed on top of tech trends and pivoted to stay ahead of the competition.
4. Operational capability is tied to technology capability.
Outsourcing has been a big trend over the past decade. Company owners found themselves outsourcing large chunks of their software development and technology implementation to a third party.
The downside of tech outsourcing is that you reduce your internal technology capabilities while being locked into multi-year agreements. Consequently, by outsourcing your tech support it may slow your reaction to marketplace threats or opportunities.
The most successful and highest-performing companies don’t separate their business and technology strategies. Tech is part of their DNA, and they would never outsource this significant competitive advantage. Companies that realize they’re in the technology business can drive speed and innovation by closely aligning their technology and business leaders to create solutions together.
Many successful companies across industries share these habits:
- They are in various stages of digital transition.
- They are trying to make sense of rapidly changing demographic trends.
- They understand technologies that were leading edge just five years ago no longer work well.
It’s crucial to remember that digital transformation is a destination – a never-ending journey of continuous improvement, innovation and experimentation. Companies that can successfully create internal “engines of innovation” are positioned to stay competitive.
How to incorporate technology into your business
There are many ways to incorporate technology into your business’s day-to-day operations. Changes can be small or large, but they must be impactful. This, in turn, will help your company operate more effectively.
Here are a few areas where technology can positively impact your business:
- CRM: Customer relationship management (CRM) tools can centralize your prospects and clients, streamline the process of generating sales leads and successfully converting leads into customers. When you implement one of the best CRM platforms, your staff will better understand the customers, stay in contact and shorten the sales cycle. When used properly, CRM solutions can also increase cross sales and repeated sales.
- VoIP: Consider how the best business VoIP phone systems can help streamline how your employees interact with each other and the customers. A good system should integrate with your CRM solution, thus making communications and documentation even more efficient.
- Cybersecurity: With digital innovation comes a measure of vulnerability to cyberattacks. If you have an e-commerce brand that stores customer data in any capacity, it’s essential to invest in state-of-the-art cybersecurity measures. For example, consider using one of the best internet security and antivirus software packages to protect both your business and customers’ private data.
- Apps: Can you convert some service team duties into an app with a customer-controlled process? Any tech investment that provides a better customer experience is worthwhile.
- Controls: Protect your company using access control solutions. Identity access control protects your networks and data by permitting only authorized personnel to access relevant systems. Visitor management systems and employee access technology, like biometric access solutions, are ways to safeguard your organization.
- Software: Manual systems are prone to human error, so consider implementing robust software systems wherever possible. For example, the best accounting and invoicing software will keep your business financially sound, and document management systems can help you track, store and manage your internal files.
These are just a few examples of ways to implement the latest technology into your business. Stay on top of tech and industry trends to identify the best ways for your company to adopt a tech business mindset.