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By Katalyst International contributor Jessica Olivo
New technology is not just a tool to be utilized by young start ups in Silicon Valley. Technology is being embraced across all industries and if it hasn’t made its way to yours yet, it will soon. From construction to engineering, transportation to agriculture, most established industries are currently seeing how not only apps and software, but also automation, artificial intelligence, drones, and virtual reality can positively impact the way they do business.
Customers of these industries are just like any others. They are starting to expect better, faster, and less expensive service. Companies who aren’t staying ahead of the advances in their fields will soon find themselves falling behind their more tech-savvy competitors. Chances are that you are already using technology that didn't exist fifty, twenty, even ten years ago. New technology is always developing and replacing antiquated systems.
While there are certainly challenges to overcome when integrating any new changes to a business, whether they are technological, procedural, or structural, the benefits will often make any temporary headaches worthwhile.
New technology can lead to cost savings by reducing or eliminating redundancies in your operation. Employees will be able to perform their tasks faster while making fewer mistakes. Avoiding errors will save money in not needing to repeat steps and eliminate wasted supplies.
Technology is also crucial when overcoming a tight labor market. While you may be reluctant to replace an employment position with a technological solution, there may be times in your company’s lifespan when finding a human to perform the job may not be the best solution for you. When competition is high for qualified candidates, it can serve you well to have an alternative option available.
There may come a time when if you aren’t making changes and improvements to keep up with the current advances in your industry, you will risk your company becoming obsolete in the market. The ultimate benefit to embracing new technology is that instead of falling behind your competitors, you have an opportunity to become the industry leader. If you can offer your customers the better, faster, cheaper option they’re searching for, you will secure your place at the top of the market.
As previously mentioned, there are challenges to consider before buying into the latest technology being offered. As with any big changes, take the time to do your research. Find out exactly what the costs will be and balance those expenses with the potential savings down the road. Don’t make a big change just because the technology is available. There should be an existing problem that the new or updated technology is going to solve. There may be an overwhelming number of options that address just one aspect of your business. Look into the opportunities that best suit the needs of your company.
It’s important to account for training when considering the total cost. Training your staff could be a considerable time commitment and lead to a temporary loss of productivity. Come up with a plan to phase in your changes for less disruption to workforce efficiency.
Gradually introducing new technology will also help with pushback from employees. Often, staff can become complacent with the old way of getting the job done and will prefer to keep doing what is familiar and comfortable. Hesitation to change is normal and should be anticipated. Expect that there may be some difficulty in training and be clear that the changes are being made, even for those who are resistant.
Try to include your staff in early planning stages and explain how the new technology will positively affect the future of your company in the long run. Ask for employee feedback at every step, from choosing the product to the actual implementation and training. Be flexible when considering the feedback and be prepared to make changes accordingly. The smoother the transition, the faster you can start reaping the benefits of your new systems.
You may also have to make some adjustments to your established methods and procedures to make the most of the new technology. There is no use in implementing a better system for one aspect of your business if it’s going to negatively impact others.
When you have embraced the new technology and successfully integrated it into your business, you also need to have the foresight to reinvest some of your profits and savings into continuing to research and develop more ways that you can utilize advances in your industry. There is no room for complacency when staying ahead of the competition and when the next big thing comes around, you’ll want to be prepared.
In Part Two of this post, we’ll be discussing specific technologies that are currently available for long-standing industries.