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There's no such thing as future-proofing your business

Written by James Hind on Friday, 07 October 2016. Posted in Enterprise, Innovation, Apps & gadgets, Technology

To stay relevant in an ever-shifting tech landscape, you have to keep a close eye on your audience and their changing lifestyle and media habits

There's no such thing as future-proofing your business

The tech industry is moving at an incredible pace and shows no signs of slowing down.The future may seem like a terrifying prospect and many brands fear being left behind or even having their wonderful business totally invalidated just because a new gadget or gizmo has been introduced. Future-proofing your business is an appealing idea but the truth is that no matter how much we wish there was, there is no way to future-proof your technology company.

There’s no way to guarantee you’ll be safe, come what may, because nobody knows what’s coming. All tech companies can do is keep their ears to the ground, stay on top of industry news and ensure they know as much as they possibly can about their industry at any given moment.  As well as looking at new or emerging technology, keep an eye on what’s going mainstream too. This will give you a good indication of where consumer demand is. Social media and easy access to online news is making this easier to do and if you’re genuinely interested in your business and the tech sector, this should be something you’re doing anyway.

It’s also important to consider what’s right for your company, your customers and their evolving needs before jumping on the latest tech bandwagon. There’s no point in advertising on Instagram, for example, just because lots of companies are doing it – even if they’re getting good returns. If it doesn’t fit your audience – which it wouldn’t for carwow for instance – then you shouldn't do it. Instead, we're exploring how to responding to the trend we've spotted for consumers choosing to lease their cars rather than own them.

There's also that perennial question: should I be an early adopter or take a wait-and-see approach? While it is important to consider your audience and some might say it's more prudent to
wait until a new trend has been tested before adopting it, there’s definitely an appeal in being one of the first in the queue. It's perhaps part of an entrepreneur’s makeup to want to get in first. And when you do strike gold, it’s great to say that you were ahead of the curve. At carwow we started including Facebook in our marketing mix early on and this has worked out very well for us. In the early days of Facebook, fewer companies were using it so the consumer was much more open, which gave us a huge advantage.

That said, new tech hasn't always proven to stand the test of time. We integrated Facebook Login when it first emerged but usage was very low so it turned out to be a waste of our developers' time. You have to be prepared for things to not always work out as you hoped and be OK with the fact that you won't get everything right. You'll win some and you'll lose some but it’s still worth being open to new ideas.

When it comes to staying relevant, it's all about balance. It’s important to stay on top of industry trends and what technology the competition is investing in, but you shouldn't lose focus of your own business or forget your own identity. Worry about what your customers want, not what the competition is doing.

About the Author

James Hind

James Hind

There’s no doubt Hind is a natural-born entrepreneur. After an internship at an investment firm put him off a career in the City ‘for life’, in 2013 he launched carwow, the car-buying platform. Since, carwow has driven over £850m in car sales, with 3% of new cars in the UK being purchased through the platform, and has recently opened its first international territory in Germany.

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