It seems like just about every day, there’s a new technological advance that enters the world.
A new iPhone. A voice-activated device like an Amazon Echo or Google Home. A connected sensor. A drone. The list goes on and on.
This constant drumbeat of technology can be overwhelming. And it would be no surprise for any of us to come to the conclusion that we’re just in over our heads.
If you’re at that point—especially when you think about technology for your business—what do you do?
You may choose at home to forget about streaming and smart homes and sit around the Victrola reading the evening paper every night. Ultimately, that’s not dangerous to your business’s future profits—or even its survival.
But falling behind technologically in your business because you prefer pencil and paper, or because spreadsheets are working fine, will eventually cost your company on the bottom line.
So business leaders of every background need to find ways to catch up and move ahead digitally.
Doing this requires two major paradigm shifts.
Focus on possibilities instead of problems
One of the reasons that some business leaders stay away from technology is fear that something bad could happen. Something like this:
* My system is going to be hacked.
* Our customers’ data will be stolen.
* Transactions won’t work right and we will lose sales.
* The computer won’t understand the voice and we’ll send out the wrong orders.
* The new system won’t connect right to my old system, and customers will get confused and frustrated.
Whether your fear is one of these things or something else, you need know some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that yes, things kinds of things can happen. The good news is that good planning can make the chances of these things happening virtually nil.
So the best thing you can do is not to ignore your fears. It’s to document them—and then figure out how to address these concerns. So instead of worrying about being hacked, focus on what security measures you will put in place. Keep asking that question until you are satisfied with the plan. Do this with each of your fears. and your business moving away from panic and toward the kind of digital strategy that can survive real-world problems.
Ask the wrong questions of the right people
When you’re in over your head technologically, the problem isn’t that you don’t have all the answers. It’s that you don’t even know the right questions to ask. That’s actually fine—all of us have areas we don’t know about. It just means you need to pivot your questions from what or how to who.
When you’re in this situation, what you need most is someone you trust who will walk alongside your business as you seek to develop technological solutions. This could be a new hire, a consultant, or a company that will serve as your digital partner.
How do you pick the right person, consultant, or company? Here are five things to look for:
1. It should be someone who wants the best for your business, not any specific solution. Stay away from platform-specific consultants or hires that focus on one particular technology for every solution they build.
2. It needs to be someone who is able to pivot. You’re going to have a lot of questions, and your business will probably alter its strategy to any digital initiative as your leaders learn more about what is possible. Your guides should help you come up with the best strategy, even if it takes a little time or a few change orders.
3. It needs to be someone who can get you to the finish line, or at least connect you to resources who can. The last thing you need is a talking head who gives you lots of great ideas and then leaves you to sort through them. Your business needs not just a great idea but a great solution—and that means a finished innovation project. Find someone or some team that will get its hands dirty alongside you to actually create something amazing.
4. It needs to be someone who is patient. Your first digital initiative is not the time for growth hacking quick fixes. You need time to ask questions, have team discussions, talk to different user groups, and figure out the right direction to go.
5. It needs to be someone who is willing to say “I don’t know.” Don’t fall for the bombastic braggadocio of a know-it-all. Find someone with subject-matter expertise and a firm grasp on the kind of initiative you’re starting, and someone who also is willing to tell you they need to research something more or do more user study before giving you an answer. This kind of honesty usually leads to the right answer in the end.
Conclusion: It really can happen
Let me conclude with a story about one of our clients that was in over its head technologically. This successful 40-year-old company decided a couple of years ago that it was finally time to launch a website. But the leadership team in this company had little to no experience in a digital initiative like launching a website.
The Worthwhile team worked with this company to come up with a plan for the website, and to adjust the plan as they realized halfway through that some things needed to change. Most importantly, we helped this company get to the finish line with a beautiful website that clearly depicted and explained its products.
A couple of years down the road, the website has helped the company’s business grow. They are getting more qualified leads while filtering out some of the calls they got from people who misunderstood their product offerings. The result is more sales, more efficiency, and a booming business.
Your business can create this kind of story too, no matter how behind your are technologically. Find the right partner and focus on possibilities, and before long you’ll likely find that technology has moved from being a source of confusion to a source of ROI.
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