There’s no question that implementing new technologies in your business can help you work better, but it isn’t a magic solution to problems.
Take sales and marketing objectives, for instance. There are robust technologies available to support both sales and marketing teams in their goals. But if the problem is that your sales and marketing teams aren’t on the same page about what qualifies as a good lead, technology won’t do you much good. The process for qualifying leads must be honed and agreed upon before technology can support both teams in meeting their goals.
That’s why RelationEdge puts process first and technology second. Our Process First. Technology Second.® methodology is the cornerstone to how we work. It ensures that we (and our clients) can justify why we are using a certain technology and that the tool is supporting effective and efficient business processes.
How can you determine if new technology is the right fix for your business problems? Here are some general guidelines on when technology can benefit your business, and when it can’t.
4 Ways Technology Can Help Your Business
1. Automate and Simplify Administrative Tasks
Technology is incredibly helpful for reducing manual time spent on simple, repetitive tasks. Look for opportunities to automate administrative tasks at your business, such as record-keeping, scheduling, tracking expenses, processing payroll, and managing invoices.
Even the most humble tools can significantly reduce the amount of time and energy that goes into tasks that used to take hours. For instance, if you’re still spending time on back-and-forth emails to find a meeting time that works for everyone, stop — there are tools for that.
Don’t assume you can only automate the simplest of tasks. With more robust tools, your business can automate bookkeeping, data collection, your quote-to-cash process, and more.
Automating administrative tasks frees up your employees to spend time on more brain-intensive tasks such as honing and supporting your business process, monitoring business goals, implementing strategy changes, and interacting with key stakeholders, vendors, and customers.
2. Engage with Your Customers
Your customers are out there talking about you. Are you listening?
Technology makes it easier than ever to listen to, engage with, and offer support to your customers online. If you’re not using technology to enhance your customer service team, it’s time to start. Customer feedback and requests for support can come from many directions — email, phone, social media, chat, your company’s website — and the right tools allow you to track and respond to customer inquiries and requests through an organized and centralized process.
3. Work With the Best Talent — Anywhere
At RelationEdge, we’ve made the conscious decision to hire the best people, wherever they are. Because our employees are located all over the country, we rely on technology to work successfully together. Tools for videoconferencing, cloud sharing, and project management make it possible for your employees to work remotely and for all of our teams to work together no matter their location; these tools enable your business to expand, both geographically and in terms of the top talent you can bring onto your teams.
Technology also makes it possible for you to hire top vendors, contractors, and partners to support your business growth — without being limited by their location. Thanks to technology tools, we’ve been able to support clients all over the US and UK.
With fewer limits on the talent you can reach, both for your internal teams and the vendors you partner with, you’ll be able to support your business with the best and brightest minds.
4. Target Your Customers with Personalized Marketing
With the marketing technology available today, no business should be casting a wide marketing net and hoping to get bites from a few valid leads. Whether you have a large or small marketing budget, there are ways to leverage technology to target your marketing efforts for maximum impact.
Invest in digital ads to target your customers based on demographic, location and online behavior. Use email marketing and marketing automation to reach the right customers with the right message, based on their past product searches or purchases. Monitor social media metrics and KPIs to hone your social media marketing where it will make the most impact.
These tools not only allow you to target the messaging you send to your audiences, they also provide you with data on how your marketing campaigns perform. With data on which customers clicked on your ad, opened your email, or visited your website, your marketing team can continually improve its efforts each time it sends a new email or runs a new ad.
2 Problems Technology Won’t Solve
1. Internal Communication Problems
There’s a very important reason that RelationEdge’s approach to every project is to address business process first, and plan for the technology second. Technology can’t solve process issues; in fact, it can make them worse.
For example, perhaps you want to leverage technology tools to improve internal communications at your business. If your organization has thorough and reasonable processes in place for internal communications, tools like Slack and Quip can certainly help your employees communicate better.
But if your company doesn’t have an effective process for internal communications, a new group chat tool can feel like “being in an all-day meeting with random participants and no agenda,” according to one description of group chat gone wrong. Problems with group chat tools at the office are so common, they’ve led to what’s called “slacklash” — a backlash against group chat and collaboration tools like Slack. In reality, the problem is rarely the tool itself; it’s more often that the company didn’t have an effective process for internal communications, setting the tool up to fail from the start.
If you are considering a new technology to “fix” an area of your business, think about your process. Evaluate your organization’s internal strategy and policies. Are they working? How can they be improved? In the internal communications example, you may ask:
- How do leaders communicate with employees?
- How do employees communicate with each other?
- What channels are appropriate in which situations?
- What kind of response times are expected?
- Are employees overwhelmed by email or other types of communications?
If, after reviewing your business process, it makes sense to adopt a new technology, set guidelines for its use. If you find that your business process is broken or lacking efficiency, work on crafting a revised and streamlined process — once you have that, you can implement the right technology to support it.
2. Adoption Issues
Even when you’ve found the perfect technology to help with your sales process, automate your manual tasks, or engage with your customers, it’s common to have trouble getting employees to adopt the new technology. The most efficient and robust tool in the world won’t help your business if your employees don’t use it. In fact, about one-quarter of new technology projects fail.
For many companies, the road to implementing a new technology is full of blood, sweat and tears, and by the time you’ve reached the finish line to launch the technology, you don’t have the energy to think about adoption. This is a detrimental mistake.
Implementing technology is not enough; fostering use of the new tool requires patience, cheerleaders within your company, and comprehensive training to ensure employees are comfortable using the new technology. When you prepare to implement new technology, think about your adoption plan from the very beginning. Discuss adoption strategies with your implementation partner, and find out if they offer any support for this in the form of employee training, resources, and materials. To successfully reap the benefits of a new tool, you must create a user adoption plan that’s as well-designed and concrete as the roll-out plan for the tool itself.