Technology in Business… are you leveraging it?

Technology in Business. It’s moving fast, but are you keeping up? Your business success might depend on it.

In 1989 Compaq introduced one of the first laptops in the USA.  It had 640 kB of RAM and a 20 MB hard drive.  It sold for approx. $2,500 ($4,900 in 2019 dollars) I know because I bought one of them, it was my first laptop and at the time, it was awesome!  

Fast forward 30 yrs and my latest laptop has a 16 GB (16,000,000 kB) of RAM and a 512 GB (512,000 MB) Solid State Hard drive.  When you add all the additional features, it’s basically like comparing a Model T to Tesla….the Tesla still has 4 tires and transports people, but the technology has advanced so exponentially it’s hard to compare them. 

If it feels like technology is evolving faster and faster every year, you aren’t imaging it.   We also are adopting new technology faster than ever before.  It’s hard to believe, but the first consumer tablet (the I-Pad) isn’t even 10 yrs old! 

A 2017 study already had household ownership of e-tablets in the US at 78%, so it could easily be 90% before it’s 10th birthday.  In comparison, the first commercial microwave oven was sold in 1955, it took 48 yrs to reach 90% of the US households!

“Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.”

– Stewart Brand

Whether or not you’re a fan of all this technology really isn’t the issue.   The reality is for your business to survive long term you need, at a minimum, to be informed about some of the latest technology available so you’re aware of what’s available.  

If you don’t have an IT department, seek out a local IT business to keep you updated.  If your competitors are leveraging a technology that you’re not even aware of, how can you possibly compete with them?   Don’t be too quick to say it’s too expensive.   Cloud storage used to be expensive, today it almost feels like you get for free.

There was a short article in INC last month titled 5 Technology Trends Small Businesses should consider in 2019.  Some will seem obvious, others not so much.  Here is a short recap:

  1. Optimizing your Content for Voice Search.   Siri, Alexa, and Hey Google aren’t going anywhere.  Voice is changing the way google digs for content.   Ask your website professional if your content is optimized for voice.   SNL nailed it a couple years ago.
  • Using Facebook Messenger as a Marketing Tool.  The article points out that in spite of all the scandals FB has 1.3 billion monthly users.  You may as well be using it to drive customers to your product or service. Messenger can also be a quick way to solve a customer issue with a simple exchange vs. letting it turn into a chain of negative posts you’ll spend hours trying to clean up.
  • Sell your products thru Social Media.  It’s not a question of if your products should be promoted via social media, it’s which platforms are you on, which ones are your clients are on?  If you’re not out there creating a path to purchase and your competitors are….you lose.  It isn’t about your opinion of social media or the different platforms.  You need to be where your customers are. Period.
  • Helping employees pay off student loans.   In a competitive job market you need to be creative.  The other side of paying for student loans is simply paying for continuing education.  Yes, you will get burned sometimes, but hopefully it’s the exception and not the norm.  The cost of college has left a lot of grads strapped with student debt that will take decades to pay off.   A program to help pay down some of that debt may be a retention tool worth implementing.
  • Offer financing.  The article referenced what Square has created to help small businesses offer short term financing for customers.  That is only one example.  If you have never offered financing, start with your bank, they may have some simple programs for you.  The dollar amount of your product or service will dictate the best company to partner with. For large ticket items, there are companies like GE Capital, Citi, De Lage Landen.  For smaller retail PayPal, Blispay, & LendPro are all good options.   A lot of industries have financial companies that cater to them.  With the help of google you can probably find the best option for your business.

What about you? Are you embracing technology?  Are you trying to leverage it to help your business?  Do you have an IT professional that keeps you up to date with the latest technology?  Is there a big one missing off this list?  Here’s a link to the original Inc. Article: 5 Tech Trends

BTW, if you’re wondering, the new laptop was just under $1,400 w/tax.  In 1989 dollars it would only be about $700!  If you’re interested in what the cutting edge Compaq LTE 286 looked like in 1989 click here,   As always, we value your comments in the space below. 

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach