5 top tips for SMEs investing in business technology

Upgrading your technology is one of those jobs that you know will vastly improve things when implemented. But it’s such a daunting prospect that it’s much easier to skip past it on the To Do list and move on to less taxing projects, such as rewiring the electrics in your house, or actually doing your tax return.

Like many SMEs, you may be starting from a low-tech environment and have little or no business IT experience, so are unsure how to navigate the world of tech. You know that the right technology will maximise the value of customer data within your business, make your processes more efficient and give you the edge over your competitor. But where is this magical technology and how do you find it without having to undergo some Indiana Jones-style crusade to find it?

Starting point

Cognition24’s Managing Director, Tim Chisnall, and Senior Salesforce consultant Morris Dickson, can help with this dilemma. They fully understand that there are so many different possible routes to take when choosing your software, it’s hard to commit to one without worrying that you’ve gone in the wrong direction. When making their own software choices, Tim and Morris ask themselves exactly what it is they need and want from their technology. For example, will it help increase sales? Will it improve customer service? Will it address data management?

These are Tim and Morris’s tried and tested questions they pose when choosing their next tech upgrade:

1. What does your technology need to do to help you achieve your operational and strategic objectives?

If you’re struggling to answer this, consider a Landscape Review, which helps organisations define their short-, medium- and long-term technology plans by looking at the different solutions available to them and comparing them with their business goals.

2. Is your system connected?

Your business will run much more smoothly if all of your  IT systems are joined up and complement each other.

Consider any tech solution in the wider context of your business as a whole, and whether it can be integrated with other systems. If it can’t, or if this is very complicated to achieve, then move on to a system that can. 

3. Are you having trouble with your data?

Don’t listen to the people who tell you that you can’t have enough data. If you’ve got more data than you can physically handle, or if data management is taking up a lot of your time, you’ll end up drowning in it and won’t be able to derive any value from anything.

Opt for technology that makes data collection and processing easier, not harder. Focus on the solutions that can provide analysis of your data most usefully. Keep things as smart, clean and simple as possible. That way you’ll have a better chance of spotting the trends that might lead you to a killer insight and a competitive advantage.

4. Have you experienced data breaches, or had difficulty keeping up with security threats?

If staying on top of security is a challenge, it could be because your systems are too fragmented. The more widespread your technology, the more access points there are into your business. Now that GDPR is in full force – meaning you risk landing a huge fine and untold reputational damage if you were to suffer a breach – you must consider the data security implications of every piece of tech you install and run.

5. Are you making your customer a part of every tech purchase?

If the technology doesn’t have a direct link back to customer experience, you should think very seriously before implementing it.

Not every piece of tech will have a specific impact on customers. For example, an in-house project management tool won’t have direct benefits outside the business. But, if it reduces the amount of time your team are spending on managing schedules or basic admin, they’ll be able to provide a better service to your customers. And excellent customer service is essential to giving you the edge over your competitors.

6. Will it help you win the lottery?

Tim and Morris have yet to find any software that predicts the Lottery winning numbers, but they’re still looking and you’ll be the first to know if they do!

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