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Technology and the Modern Business

Recent advances in technology are providing businesses with a vast array of new tools which can improve a business’ efficiency and profits, as well as lower business risks. Unfortunately, these tools are often ignored, because of the lack of knowledge, or simply because of resistance to change. Businesses that are willing to take advantage of these new tools typically gain a significant advantage in the marketplace and municipal governments and other public entities are able to offer superior services to their communities.

A well-designed web presence for a business can be a money-generating sales machine, working 24×7 to attract customers and close sales. Cloud technologies can increase security and reduce risks, making the dual goals of business data security, as well as disaster prevention and survivability, readily achievable goals. The latest collaboration technologies make business processes much more efficient, significantly raising profits. Likewise, modern communication systems now allow a business to adopt the “three A’s”, being able to work anywhere, anytime on any device, which not only makes them more productive but gives them the ability to run their operations, even if they can’t get to their office.

Two primary barriers to utilizing the latest business technology tools are simply the lack of knowledge of the latest innovations and not understanding how these new technologies can be most effectively employed. This is understandable since different business-specific technologies, many of which can radically improve multiple aspects of a businesses’ operations, are being introduced almost daily.  

A key mistake many businesses make is to rely on IT contractors or staff to provide insights & support for moving to the new tools because staying up with the latest technologies and productivity tools is simply not a priority in most IT shops.

They don’t spend their days researching every new application or feature that comes along which could help the business in some way and they are not expected to dig into a business’ current processes in order to analyze how the latest tools could be used to improve them. In many cases, there is actually a conflict of interest with using new IT tools, as the new tools would not only require obtaining a completely new technical skill set for the IT group but could also potentially reduce the requirement for an IT group at all!

Moving to new technologies and processes can mean radically changing the ways things have always been done in a business. This goes against the natural inertia most organizations have to resist change, particularly if a system is in place that already works for them.

This is a critical mistake because leveraging better technologies will give a business the edge in efficiency, profit and lower risk, which is needed to survive in today’s competitive marketplace and will allow a City or other government body to provide better services at a lower cost. 

Consider two (2) case studies – Polaroid and Yellow Cab. Both companies had strangleholds on their respective markets for over 100 years, yet both have filed bankruptcy and are now only a shadow of themselves.

While Polaroid was busy building factories to make film and cameras, they ignored digital photography and the internet. Thus they blew their opportunity to dominate for another 100 years, yielding their business to smartphones and companies like Instagram, which together made the need for film and purpose-built cameras virtually non-existent.

Similarly, Yellow Cab sunk millions if not billions into the building an empire of physical taxi cabs and maintenance facilities only to see the rug pulled out from under their feet by companies like Uber and Lyft who came up with a way to make money getting people from point A to point B without the overhead of a fleet of vehicles. They, like Polaroid, squandered a golden opportunity to dominate a new market because of their short-sightedness.

While change can be difficult, without it, a business can’t continue to flourish and businesses and public entities such as cities will continue to be plagued by inefficiencies and cyber attacks and will be left picking up the pieces after a disaster. This is especially true in today’s technologically-based world, which has already come up with alternatives for most Legacy-system based business tools and literally comes up with new, and better ways of doing things on a daily basis.