To stay competitive, your company needs to keep up with the drumbeat of technology. There are perils to being an early adopter, but those who take a calculated risk have opportunities to outperform their rivals. That lead can develop into long-lasting market advantages.
That said, business technologies are rarely “plug and play.” In addition to sourcing, installing, and rolling out new resources, you need to ensure your personnel actually use them. Adoption is easily overlooked, and a failure of your team to embrace new ways of doing things inevitably leads to uneven results.
The introduction of new technology should be embedded within a strategic plan. That plan often needs to begin weeks – and sometimes months – before new software or hardware is put to use. But starting early actually accelerates the process of reaching first value.
From there, the opportunities presented by innovation will only grow.
Here’s how small business owners can achieve greater success with technology integration:
1. Have a Communication Plan in Place from the Start
Technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum: it’s used by people. No matter how healthy your company culture is, it’s normal to have a spectrum of responses to innovation. Some people will jump in with both feet, but they are in the minority. The greatest portion will be ambivalent, and you need to take action to engage them.
If you want people to dig in and get the most from new approaches, it’s not enough to say “my way or the highway.” Communicate clearly about the technology, timeline, and expected benefits. Since it will take time for those benefits to actually materialize, stoking enthusiasm may require some effort.
Even when you are clear about what’s not currently working and what could be better, some people will be attached to the old ways. When you start from a place of openness and transparency, you reduce the resistance across the organization. That turns everyone touched by innovation into a partner for change.
2. Pioneer the Process with Help from Early Adopters
Take a close look at the scope of change new technology will bring. Will every single employee need to do things differently? Will change be mostly confined to a single silo, such as sales or marketing? Among those impacted, who is technologically savvy and who prefers traditional methods?
Once you’ve identified the team members who are most likely to embrace innovation with gusto, you can recruit them as your volunteer early adopters. Giving them the option to pioneer change will help them feel more empowered, and they will be more likely to report truthfully on the results they see.
If these volunteers find the technology lives up to its promise, they can become a helpful asset during wider implementation. First, they have the ability to communicate with colleagues and champion the vision. Second, they may be able to help others adjust, while also becoming SMEs on the new system.
3. Bring a Support Team in During the Initial Transition
As valuable as early adopters are, they cannot replace a dedicated support team. In fact, an informal expectation that experienced users will shoulder tech support requests can lead to burnout. During a company-wide rollout, it’s wise to introduce a dedicated support team.
This may be necessary only for the first week, first two weeks, or first month. A well-designed piece of technology should rarely leave people baffled for a full quarter! Likewise, the engagement may take the form of intensive on-site training or it may involve 24-hour remote support.
Whatever the case may be, an expert technology partner can craft and deliver a support strategy that meets your needs during the switchover from one workflow to another. This is the time when people are most likely to feel confused and stressed, so extra resources can have a huge morale impact.
4. Capture Feedback, Analyze Results, and Continuously Improve
Technology integration is rarely “one and done.” Just like it takes about a year for most new employees to maximize their productivity, it may be months before some of your staff members become confident “power users” with any new technology solution.
As a result, it’s crucial to keep the doors open for feedback. Fluency with any technology is likely to take the shape of a bell curve: Input from anywhere along the curve can be revealing, but the best resources for those in the middle are their colleagues at the far end.
Look for ways to capture data directly from your technology platform and make adjustments to your configuration or processes accordingly. For example, if you’re using a cloud-based productivity suite, you can review which features are used frequently (or not used at all), identifying knowledge gaps.
Integration is an iterative process, but each passing day enhances your team’s efficiency.
5. Get Insights from a Managed IT Services Partner You Can Trust
Using technology, BIZFORCE Technologies makes it easier for small businesses like yours to stand toe-to-toe with larger, entrenched competitors. To find out more about leveraging today’s technology to reach your growth goals, download our comprehensive guide.