Which technology is right for your business?
September 28, 2018
For most small businesses, investing in digital technology is no longer an option – it’s a must. The real question is: which technologies are right for your business?
A 2017 survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) shed some light on the subject. It found that 79% of small businesses recognize digital technology is very important to the success of their business, with the top four most common technologies being Wi-Fi, a company website, social media and mobile applications1.
That’s helpful direction, but the truth is there’s no one-size-fits-all way of determining how much technology your business needs – because every business is different. Here are some things you can do to figure out more precisely what may be right for your needs.
Think about what you need and want from your technology
If your business is a retail storefront, the most important technologies for you may be ones that raise your profile with customers and bring them through the door. That likely means a website, some digital advertising and an active presence on social media. If you plan to sell online – do e-commerce – you’ll also need a back-end solution to process transactions and handle orders.
On the other hand, if you run a service company – say, furnace repairs or deck building – you may want, beyond the basics of a website, mobile tools that help you stay organized on the go and stay connected with other members of your team.
Defining your business requirements will help you see the “hot spots”: where technology could give you the biggest boost.
Check with your employees
You may have a good idea of what you need from technology, but your on-the-ground staff may also have some good insights into where technology could help speed things up, boost productivity or help you establish stronger connections to your customers.
The other thing your team can really help with is choosing the right technology to deploy. Before you spend your money, get your employees’ thoughts on the conditions in which they’ll use that technology. Do you need rugged tools that can take a beating out in the field? Is the security of your devices or connectivity something you need to think about when making a purchasing decision?
According to the Business Development Bank of Canada, businesses increase their competitiveness when they innovate by using information and communications technologies. The more perspectives you can gather, the more information you’ll have to draw on to choose the best technologies possible for your company.
Do your research
Find out what kinds of tools other companies in your industry are using to meet their business needs. If you’re working with a web development partner on your website, ask them what kinds of trends they’re seeing. BDC.ca has a lot of good information and resources for entrepreneurs. Consider talking to a consultant, whose job it is to keep up to date on what’s new and what works best for certain types of businesses. Bell has specialists who help companies decide what technology would be best for their businesses, and who will meet with you free of charge.
Set up a technology replacement cycle
Technology is changing all the time, so as you expand the solutions your business is using, give some thought to how often you should expect to refresh and replace your IT and communications tools. That will help you establish a realistic budget for routine software and hardware upgrades and won’t catch you off-guard when it comes time to make bigger, system-wide upgrades.
To get the best return on your technology investment, it’s also important to take the time to train your staff and make sure everyone knows how to use the tools you bring into your business. Information and communications technology is changing so rapidly, it is unrealistic to expect yourself or your employees – even those in the IT department – to know how to use every new piece of technology as soon as you invest in it. Cultivate a training culture early so everyone feels comfortable learning and adopting new ways of doing business no matter where they are on the digital learning curve.
Embrace technology for your business
Just as past generations of small enterprise owners relied on cash registers, telephones and pencil sharpeners to run their shops, being in business today requires a certain amount of digital technology. Investing strategically in the right technologies for your requirements can make you more competitive, more efficient and ultimately more successful.
- Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Crossing the Digital Divide. February 2017.