Technology solves various real-life problems, and it has helped shape our lives, brought us closer together, and brought us a lot of valuable information that we can use every day. In short, technology has a great impact in our lives, especially in day-to-day business operations. No matter what size your business is, technology, if you know how to maximize its benefits, can help you make more money.
Every day, technology is released to the market, causing disruptions at breakneck speeds. So the name of the game is to keep up or get left behind. If you are not taking advantage of the new trends and solutions, it is almost always the case that your competitors will. Here are some tips on keeping up with trends in business and utilizing the benefits of technology for your business.
1: Make time in your schedule for research
Technology is constantly developing – perhaps a little too fast. Book time at some point in your calendar to sit down and see how you can integrate the latest tech trends into your business. By dedicating a specific scheduled time, you’re able to commit to finding the newest resources to keep you up-to-date with technology. To be able to efficiently do this, you can:
- Take some time to study about social networking sites. Your grocery store, for example, could use Facebook as one of your marketing strategies to reach more customers. Nowadays, social media platforms are more effective tools to easily and conveniently tell people what you offer compared to the traditional posters and flyers.
- Find out what you and your team need to make it easier and faster for you to communicate or delegate tasks. You can use Trello, Slack, or Taskworld instead of the usual email.
- Create bookmark folders in your browser of places that keep a pulse on new tech trends in your industry so you’re immediately informed of the latest news and updates.
- Bookmark your top 5 online communities/forums/blogs and visit them frequently. Opinions, comments, and suggestions from other people can be informative and useful for your business.
- If you do decide to onboard a new system or technology, make sure your internal network infrastructure is equipped to support it. For example, looking to bring on a new IoT machine? Make sure you have enough Internet bandwidth to support it! Here’s a helpful guide on How to Determine the Amount of Bandwidth Your Company Needs.
2: Follow influencers or online communities
As glossed over earlier, find and bookmark online blogs/forums/discussion boards that are interesting to you and that frequently talk about technological topics related to your industry. A few active online communities could be the following:
- Product hunt: This website is a daily list of the most popular new products, services, tools, and technologies.
- Growth.org: Billed as the best online destination for new marketing-related articles, this community is an incredible resource for staying up-to-date on marketing technology and trends.
- Growth Hackers: If you want to get the latest scoop on an overwhelming number of often counterintuitive (yet surprisingly impactful) strategies and tools for driving rapid customer and revenue growth, this is your community.
Save RSS feeds, and set up an RSS reader such as Feedly. An RSS feed, which stands for "Rich Site Summary" or "Really Simple Syndication," regularly provide you with updated web content a few moments after it’s posted. By using a feed reader like Feedly, keeping track of these contents is easier as the feeds are organized by category, making it more convenient to read on any platform and even to share them.
You may also want to follow online influencers as they’re always aware of the newest trends in various social media platforms. Through them, you can get familiar with these latest trends, which you can incorporate into your business.
3: Observe the industry and get involved
Join industry associations, attend their events, and take training courses. Associations work hard to keep their members abreast of trends, so take advantage of their expertise. Look at what your competition is doing. Even though this isn’t usually the most preferable path, since you’ll probably end up playing a game of "catch up," sometimes it’s crucial to see if your competition has stumbled upon something remarkable. Don’t look only for technological initiatives they might be taking, but also at strategically made ones: are they launching new products/services? Are they targeting new markets or expanding to new regions?
4: Look at your customers
Social media platforms are a great place where you can get in touch with your customers. Through these sites, you can observe what a people like doing and/or directly get in touch with them and ask them what they want/like.
You can also try to find other social networking sites where your potential customers might be hanging out and talking, gossiping, or even complaining. Reddit, for example, is a discussion website, so it could be one of the best places online to easily have an overview of what the trends are in the online community.
Although it’s easier, faster, and more convenient to know more about your customers online, don’t just concentrate here – go out and observe. You can go to a coffee shop to see how people are paying for items, what POS device the store is using, and if they have a loyalty system in place. If you can afford it, you can conduct more classic market research, organize focus groups, send out surveys, or gather data and insights directly from your customers. Ask them what they think of the new tech trends and what they like/dislike about them. What would they want to see? It’s also possible to test some ideas you’ve already had with them and get their feedback.
5: Establish a testing period
Most businesses get value from business experiments because you can easily analyze data and make better decisions based on the results of these experiments. Your goal here, however, is to test out which tool works best for your business in the long run and not to make revenue as soon as you employ the tool in your business. You can test a platform, but you cannot expect it to succeed immediately. For example, you cannot expect the new automated email marketing platform you’re trying out, which can help you create more consistent revenue without your having to write fresh email content constantly, to meet the metrics you set as soon as you launch it. You can set a goal, of course, but try to commit to your experiment for the sake of learning first and not to generate profit instantly. Having this mindset will be more likely to get something out of your testing phase, regardless of what the end result may be.
Successful business owners stay on top by constantly innovating. They simply know that everything changes and develops into better versions. So don’t be afraid to try something new just because it might not succeed. There’s no guarantee of a silver bullet as new technology isn’t about dramatic overnight changes to your business. The reality of deciding to invest in new technologies and strategies means that sometimes you’ll be rewarded for staying ahead of the curve, but other times it might not pan out. Reduce the need for immediate results or expectations of new technology, and you’ll create a company culture where early adoption is encouraged.