In today’s business world, you need to do whatever you can to get ahead of the competition. It used to be enough to show up and do good work every day, but with the sheer number of businesses that exist today (and the fact that a lot of businesses are now competing on a global scale, rather than local) you need to do everything you can to create a competitive advantage.
The good news is that the tech you use to work in your business can help you fuel innovation, help you work smarter, assist you with finding new ways of serving your customers, and reduce your overall business costs. Not only that, but technology can be a strong way to establish a competitive advantage that doesn’t flare up and then die off like you might get from a sale or introducing a new feature. You can use tech to create something that turns that short-term boost into long-term domination of the market.
Even the household tech we have in our lives today provides us with enough tools to have an impact on how we live our lives. Our phones alone give us a better way to communicate, manage our time, and organize our lives. The technology available in the business world provides us with similar benefits.
In our businesses, technology helps enhance things like the way we work, the decisions that we make, and how we serve our customers. It gives us a way to:
This opens you up to gaining advantages like being able to work faster or offer services that your competitors aren’t currently offering because you had better technology on your side than other businesses do.
Creating the technical advantage over the competition
The first thing you really need to do to gain a competitive advantage using technology is deciding what it is you’re trying to do. There’s enough technology out there today that you don’t have to go all-in and make sweeping changes. You can do small things that can have a major impact on one aspect of your business, which, in turn, results in a huge shift in how you serve your customers (for the better).
It’s not unusual for there to be outdated systems in place in a workplace. This happens largely because it’s only been in recent years that the tools we need to move away from these older approaches are becoming more accessible. This means it’s easier than ever to remove unnecessary manual processes from your business. We’re talking about everything from cutting and pasting data into a spreadsheet to manually entering the email addresses of new customers into your database.
When tasks like this are done manually, you not only slow down the process, but you’re taking people away from the tasks that they excel at (like your best salesperson spending more time moving blocks of text around, than selling). Automations remove these manual blockers from your business and leave your employees free to focus on actually doing their jobs and helping your customers.
Your business is full of data about you, your customers, how they use your products (or service), and even how many times they check your website before reaching out to buy something. Each and every piece of that data can be a critical part of growing your business.
The problem is, connecting the dots between all the various data points can be nearly impossible for the average person. That’s where business intelligence (BI) solutions come in. BI platforms take all that data and turn it into easy-to-read visualizations that make connecting the dots easy for everyone.
If we learned one thing in 2020, it’s that sometimes you’re going to shift almost every aspect of your business suddenly, from where you work to how you provide your services to customers.
The cloud is one of the most effective ways to build that flexibility into your business. The cloud makes it easy for you to shift to a work-from-home situation on the fly because, with the right setup, you’ll already be doing most of your work there, anyway. It allows you to scale up and down as needed, to serve customers. For example, if you’re an e-commerce business and you know Black Friday is going to be a huge day, you can be ready by scaling up your servers to be ready for the increase in traffic. Before, to prep for a huge spike like that, you’d have to provision the server space you need months in advance. With the cloud, you could scale up and be ready in minutes. This means you can adapt on the fly if you experience a sudden burst of traffic or business.
You can’t just rely on a firewall and an antivirus program to protect your customer’s data. You need a security solution that helps you stand out as someone who genuinely cares about protecting that information from hackers.
The absolute last thing your business needs is a security breach of any kind. They’re expensive, they destroy any trust customers have in you, and it gives your competition leverage when talking about why people shouldn’t choose you. That’s why you need a solution that covers everything. This includes making sure that you’re using systems that are monitored 24/7, having a security operations center in place to manage incidents, training your staff in what major security threats look like and how they can stop from being phished, and implementing access control to limit the damage done when there is an attack.
You also need to take this one step further and make sure that everything you do is compliant with all the regulations that impact your business. This includes industry regulations and governmental ones like GDPR and the California Consumer Protection Act. If you’re a company that does business on a global scale, this is critical because non-compliance is extremely expensive.
This is one of those aspects of technology that people tend to overlook. Legacy infrastructure can be a beautiful thing, but it can also get in your way when you’re trying to run a modern business.
Bare metal servers are a classic example of this. Sure, they’re just as effective now as they were when you first had them installed. But on-prem servers are expensive to maintain. They require specialized rooms with ventilation and cooling in place, as well as using a lot of electricity. Switching to the cloud, or at the very least a hybrid model that uses a mix of cloud and on-prem servers reduces the cost of hosting on-site. Not only that, but the cloud is typically cheaper (as long as you watch your costs).
Telephones are another great example. Implementing a modern voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) phone system can reduce the costs of maintaining an older phone line by providing all the same functionality, but without the need for a dedicated phone line because everything runs over the internet.
Even working from home can help by removing the costs of having a physical office building. All of these cost-saving measures give you more money to invest in growth, new products or services for your customers, and marketing efforts.
Sometimes all you need to create a competitive advantage is to be using the right tools to get the job done. But, that can be a challenge when all you can find are solutions that kind of sort of do what you need them to do, but you need a second tool to complete the task.
That’s where custom software solutions come in. Tools that were made with your exact business in mind need to allow you to work in a more streamlined way by removing the need to connect two or three services and eliminate stopping to do some tasks manually.
Tech can help you remove many of the barriers that often prevent your team from working at maximum efficiency. Some of these, as we’ve mentioned, are things that can be automated out of your workflow so you’re not always cutting and pasting chunks of information. Sometimes, though, it’s having everything in fully integrated systems that allow you to do anything you need in a few clicks (like finding and sending files, or collaborating with co-workers no matter where they are).
When you use technology to smooth out your workflow and increase collaboration, you create a system that lets you do more work than your competition. And not only that, because you’re working more efficiently, you can also make more money because tasks take less time.
Pulling together the resources you need to gain a competitive advantage can be tricky, especially getting the time and people required to make things happen. But, as luck would have it, you’re not alone.
We have 20 years of experience helping our customers gain a technical advantage over their competitors by introducing innovative solutions that solve problems within their businesses and better serve their customers. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, contact us today.
The post How To Use Technology To Gain A Sustainable Competitive Advantage appeared first on Manhattan Tech Support.