Ahead of the times: How can SMBs keep up with new technology?
New digital technology continues to gather momentum. But how can small businesses stay ahead of the curve?
Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, automation. Every day, we hear of a new technology taking the business world by storm. Already this year, we've heard reports that wearable technology and 3D printing will go fully mainstream, and who knows what new invention might be right around the corner?
In this constantly evolving landscape, even the largest corporations can find it difficult to stay ahead of the curve, let alone smaller businesses. Luckily, there are some easy things SMBs can do to keep up with new technology:
1. Schedule time to research new technology
Every single day, there are a thousand and one things small business owners have to do. This can lead to even the most important tasks falling by the wayside - researching digital trends is often one of them. However, with 50 per cent of Australian SMBs now considered to have "high" or "advanced" digital engagement (Deloitte), your business runs the risk of getting left behind if you don't embrace technology. That's why it's essential to block out a regular time in your calendar to research new tools, gadgets and processes to see what might be most suited to your business.
2. Introduce a testing phase
Once you start researching, you'll begin to identify new technologies that may work in your business. That's when it's time to start testing. Not every new gadget or tool you pick out is going to work, but that shouldn't put you off trying them out.
In business there's a concept called 'fail fast'. It essentially means you should experiment as much as possible, however as soon as you realise something isn't going to work, you should stop using it. Introducing a testing phase at your organisation is a great way to experiment with new technologies, while also ensuring you don't invest too much in tools that aren't successful.
3. Encourage experimentation throughout the business
It shouldn't just be owners or senior managers who invest in digital transformation. To really see the benefits of going digital, it's important to encourage a culture of experimentation throughout your organisation. Create processes that encourage idea sharing and reward employees for coming forward with new technology that could benefit your company. At this point it's crucial to emphasise that employees won't be negatively impacted if their idea is unsuccessful. As we've said above, embracing digital is all about trying new things, both successful and unsuccessful.
4. Consider technology that will help your employees as well as your customers
It's easy to dedicate most of your time to researching technology that will either improve your product or service offering, or increase efficiency within your business. The ultimate aim of this is of course increasing your company's bottom line. However, it's also critical to consider how you might improve the lives of your employees. For example, farmers have recently started to use drones to muster their livestock. This significantly shortens the length of time it takes to muster, because farmers no longer have to drive to the field and locate every animal. It also means they don’t have to spend hours in adverse weather conditions, which has a significant impact on their happiness.
In addition to creating happier, more engaged employees for its own sake, this should also have a trickle down effect on your revenue. Gallup data shows that businesses with high employee engagement are 21 per cent more productive than their bottom-quartile counterparts, and higher productivity means more money in your pocket.
By using technology to better the lives of your employees (and by showing you are a tech-savvy business in general), you should also be able to attract better quality candidates to your company, which again should have a trickle down effect on your bottom line.
Equipment Finance with Classic Funding Group
The advantages of embracing new technology are clear. However, not all small businesses are in a position to finance new technology or equipment. That's where Classic Funding Group can help. Our equipment finance solutions enable you to take out a loan for new technology and pay it back later, giving you much more flexibility over digital transformation.