Business Technology

Why small businesses 'do technology' best

6 min read

04 June 2019

Technology has become ubiquitous; with digital marketing now simply marketing, and digital transformation now just business transformation. Young companies understand this and as such do it incredibly well.

Challenger banks are agile and customer-centric, releasing new updates before the big banks can even think of them. Undoubtedly, this is a trend that is going to continue to purvey across all sectors of UK business.

– However, big companies often lack the agile mindset found in these smaller software-driven companies.

The ultimate question being why aren’t they putting technology at the top table? And importantly, how can they?

Large companies often see technology and upgrading theirs, as a cost rather than an enabler to drive the company forward.

Implementing huge technological change, both in terms of hardware and software is daunting and can be expensive. Too often, in large legacy companies, this is where the conversation ends.

Without someone at the top of the company driving this change, many companies get bogged down in the pounds, shillings, and pence of a project and it’s immediately shelved.

It’s important, therefore, that companies give those that work with the technology a chance to show the benefits of introducing it.

Relying on the CTO is a great step towards this, but many have too high a level of knowledge of the technology. What’s needed is an employee with an engineering background – someone who knows the nuts and bolts of how the technology works – to demonstrate what the best way to implement the appropriate technology is, and how to avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes, such as implementing ineffective programmes.

The next step is where the CTO should come in; properly implementing the strategy and showing the benefits to C-suite executives

It takes a concerted effort from the top down to successfully implement these sorts of strategies, and by having an influential person at the top of the company to advocate for the benefits of the projects will insure consistent funding.

Further, this is invaluable in helping a large legacy company become more modern and agile.

Cyber security is something that all companies should be evaluating and investing in, but more often than not this isn’t the case.

The insurance company Hiscox found almost three-quarters of firms were ranked as “novices” in terms of cyber readiness.

To be successful, it is important to have a specific person responsible for the cybersecurity of the company; to look after the day to day running and awareness of cybersecurity in the business

Having trained and knowledgeable staff will protect the business from cyber-attacks, resulting in saving the company from reputational damage and huge amounts of money.

Ultimately, large companies need to take technology more seriously. At the moment, many of them fall into the category of being too old school and bureaucratic, which leads to a number of problems when implementing new technologies.

Decision makers at companies need to be more aware of the problems the company faces and how the right technology can solve them. This ultimately comes from strong leadership and technological know-how which can highlight and present a strategy for change.

The main complaint from companies is that implementing technology is expensive and slow, however, this is, in part, down to the companies themselves.

Often large companies require long and complex approval process; which not only wastes time and money but also means they lag behind those, generally smaller and younger, companies who have developed a piece of technology and implemented it months ahead of them.

The structure of a legacy company is often based around siloed responsibility. This means that individuals have very specific responsibilities and will not stray from them.

This way of working leads to vastly longer lead times on technology

If they want to compete with younger companies, they need to adapt and mimic their strategies. This ultimately means a shift in culture. Larger companies are very risk-averse when it comes to technology, which is why some have systems that are decades old. These companies need to develop an appetite for risk.

Small companies will develop an app or add on, release it and then gather feedback and edit. Legacy companies, on the other hand, go through multiple development stages before a single big-bang release which often leads to mistakes being made with no tangible rewards.

They build either too many or too few features into their strategy which they haven’t had validated with the end users, be that employees or customers, and because of this, many end up being ditched, wasting a lot of time. For large, legacy companies to compete, they need to take a look at how they treat technology.

Implementing this technology may be expensive to start off with but with a sound strategy and key employees in the correct positions it can be done efficiently, and the business will reap the rewards.

A blend of nuts and bolts knowledge, high-level strategy and the correct amount of investment will return on that initial investment in spades. Small companies have led the way and continue to lead the way and big business will need to catch up to remain competitive.