So, your company has finally taken the plunge. The shiny new, AI enabled application that was too good to pass up, now shines brightly on your desktop next to the slick no-code platform that was last year’s ticket to utopian levels of efficiency and game changing insights. But, what’s this? Still a slave to your inbox? Still relying on the same weekly MS Excel packet to get your insights? Is it somehow taking you longer to do things than it was before?
If any of that sounds familiar, maybe it’s time to ask the unthinkable, “is modern technology holding you back?”
Surely not. That can’t be right… can it? We’ve all spent so long struggling to get by with creaking legacy systems, having to learn workarounds by the dozen, and making do with promises of ‘jam tomorrow’ as huge, multi-year infrastructure projects come and go. Now you’ve finally got your hands on the good stuff, it’s got to make everything better. Hasn’t it?
Well, it depends. We live in a world where we are faced with a dizzying array of new technology options, many of which truly do have game-changing potential. However, spoiler alert, technology is not going to solve your business’s problems.
Before you go firing all your IT people, hear me out. Technology ALONE is not going to solve your business’s problems.
Business tech has accelerated to the point where if there’s not an app for that already, there probably will be one by the time you get back to work Monday morning. But seeing the technology and using the technology are vastly different animals.
What’s Your Problem?
If your company is struggling to convert leads into sales, the temptation might be to invest in a top-of-the-line, cloud-based, intuitive customer relationship management (CRM) app that will automate every step of the marketing and sales project and pump out the most glorious six-color graphic analysis of every touchpoint along its customer journey. It looks beautiful, but is it going to solve your problem? All the new bells and whistles aren’t going to help if your real problem is that your company is lacking brand awareness, your leads are stale, or your prices just aren’t competitive enough.
Establishing what the problem is has to be the first step in making a decision on if and how to bring new technology in. (By the way, if you don’t know what the problem is, ask your key stakeholders. They’ll be able to tell you in under two minutes flat)
Is New Tech The Answer?
Before we start talking about implementation, take a step back from the problem. Resist the pressure to be seen to be ‘keeping up with the Jones’. Is upgrading your technology absolutely the best fit for the problem? If your sales and marketing team wants better collateral in the form of videos and slideshows, do you need to break the bank on the latest, cutting-edge software or do you just need new content? That doesn’t take new technology to fix, merely a few people on staff putting their heads together and updating scripts to reflect how your customer base has changed, what their pain points are, and how your company can solve them. No tech needed, other than a spiral notebook and a ball-point pen.
Shouldn’t It Just Work?
Once you have done the homework to define your business problem, there will likely be a host of technology upgrades with the potential to transform your operations. However, we’re not quite out of the woods yet. Careful planning is needed to avoid major headaches when you decide it’s time for an upgrade. Fail to plan properly and you really do risk turning your expensive new growth engine into an anchor.
Let’s break that down step by step from the ground floor up.
- Solution architecture: The older your existing tech, the more difficult it can be to leverage new technology into the environment and make everything play nice. Lean on your IT specialists to see how your new toy will fit into your existing framework, how areas of possible overlap or duplication will be managed, or if a more systemic upgrade is needed.
- Change management plan: Don’t be the company that announces on Friday that everyone is going to be learning an entirely new process, software, programming language, or whatever it is on Monday morning. All changes, even good ones, can impact productivity. Make sure you are helping your people through these changes so that they can start to be more productive, sooner. Leave change management to chance and you’ll turn your transformative change into a crawl.
- Stakeholder alignment: Getting everyone on the same page to understand why the change is happening, what it involves, and how it will benefit the company moving forward is essential for long term adoption and securing resilience and patience to overcome any implementation related disruption in the short term.
- Roles and responsibilities: Most likely, the switch isn’t just going to affect employees in one department. Make sure that you fully understand which roles and responsibilities will be impacted and make sure that all of your stakeholders understand how roles will change in regards to the new workflow.
- Program execution and discipline: Sounds obvious, but we’ve all seen this one go terribly wrong. Make sure you have the right resources to execute and make sure you have a governance model to support those resources through sound and consistent decision making, mitigation of risk and removal of road blocks. Overestimate process downtime, the learning curve, and what your alternative solution is while things get up and running or you’ll cost yourself money, time, and productivity.
The pressure to level up with new technologies to eradicate existing problems can be overwhelming. Before investing dollar one in any tech solution, define your problem and research what solution makes the most sense. If technology is the answer, take the time to come up with a game plan that covers the before, during, and after phases of its implementation. Then there should be absolutely no holding you back!