Opinion

Investing in technology – why it can make or break your business

4 min read

26 June 2018

From automation to global communication, nothing is driving business growth like technology, explains Real Business writer Jessica Foreman.

While tech is essential to leverage change, there is danger in becoming too reliant on the newest software. Technology works best alongside human innovation – for your business to thrive in the coming decades, you need to strike the right balance.

Automation can revolutionise productivity, or damage business structures

It’s not only businesses facing this conflict of interests. Experts have warned that universities will need to radically change to help workers withstand automation. The Bank of England’s chief economist has predicted that 10 to 50% of the global workforce could be affected by the “rise of the robots”. There are few industries this technological revolution won’t affect.

Organisations are likely to change radically over the coming decades – for your business to adapt well, you must implement change with intelligence. Automating your HR systems can create big savings, but removing your entire human resources workforce is never a good idea.

When a business grows, information is passed down from senior employees, often without records being made. Experienced employees are also capable of assessing situations in depth, then applying creative thinking to work around challenges.

Your latest software purchase can do the admin more efficiently, but you should never underestimate the value of people power. One way to ensure you strike the balance is via process mapping – a planning method that allows you to create a common understanding of the entire process, and well as the specific contributions of individuals.

Communication is integral to project planning

With a range of effective digital planning tools entering the business software market every year, it can be easy to overlook the need to retain traditional lines of communication.

A project roadmap allows you to achieve the necessary level of organisation for a project where people drive tech – not the other way around. This type of planning tool can be read and understood in less than three minutes, making it an ideal communicative tool for businesses of any size.

If you plan well and invest intelligently, technology can revolutionise how you plan for the future. Software and cloud systems that enable remote access can increase productivity by as much as 13%.

Technology can also be utilised to produce a competitive edge, reducing project time frames, allowing you to provide a more efficient service than competitors, at better rates.

Use technology to augment customer service, not to replace it

Technology is resetting brand loyalty, since speed of delivery is now more important to consumers than brand prestige. This means product delivery is more important to customers than ever – and since branding will rarely compensate, you need great customer service.

There are a range of digital enhancements customer service can benefit from. A combination of cutting-edge technologies and sleek web-based communication pathways are the key ingredients to a well-managed customer experience. However, it’s important to remember that technology is an enhancement tool, and should exist alongside pre-digital customer service know-how.

Overuse of CRM software can hurt your business: you need to use it well to win the best results. As always, remember to inject human understanding into the process. Automation creates the risk that customers will not feel their complaints and desires are being heard – to counter this effect, you need to creatively manage your customer communication pathways.

Towards a nuanced approach to business tech

Great business development requires innovation – but though great use of tech can make a business flourish, you also need a sharp business development plan and a first class team. Creating a balance is the secret to success.