How do you implement technology to grow your business? CEOs and founders discuss how to choose the right tech to benefit your company and attract customers
How do you strategically implement the right technology into your business?
With a wide array of technology available on the market, businesses are often spoilt for choice when it comes to picking the latest innovate trends. However, this could leave business owners scratching their heads a few months down the line when they realise their chosen technology doesn’t truly serve their business or is too difficult to operate. Speaking on the second day Elite Business’ live event on March 10, Carl Reader, Founder of #BeYourOwnBoss and Chairman of d&t chartered accountants, Sam Goss, Co-founder and CMO of Comma Group, Melissa Snover, Founder of Nourished, Dan Maudhub, Managing Director of The Wonderful Creative Agency and Drew Ellis, Founder of We Are Like Minds, revealed the importance of understanding the “why” behind technology before jumping on the bandwagon. They discussed various pitfalls that come with implementing technology and why businesses must strategically use tech to fill in the gaps rather than seeing it as a quick fix solution.
Business owners need to have a clear vision of their company and understand how technology can meet their demands, Dan Maudhub, Managing Director of The Wonderful Creative Agency said. It is essential business owners know the “why” behind using a particular technology, rather than hopping on the latest tech trend. “Don’t listen to the tech sales guys. It’s very easy to get wowed by the technology,” Dan said. “There are lots of large CRM companies that will have five people in the video conference call and will tell you 50 reasons why you need their technology. And you buy into it because you believe it… You come off the call, you pay a whacking great big license fee and six months later you’re not sure what you’re doing, why you’ve done it, how to use it and it hasn’t changed your business. So actually, it’s about understanding the why behind what you’re going to get. Don’t start with technology, start with what change you’re looking to make with your business. I’ve set hundreds of tech sales conferences with tech sales guys and they’re all great at what they do, but you need to know why you need the technology.”
Meanwhile, business owners must understand the type of technology they are dealing with to deal with any shortcomings or downfalls that could happen when outsourcing technological components and innovative gadgets. “Do not outsource a major tech component to someone else, that is super dangerous stuff,” Melissa warned. “We asked a company to help us build some of our first printers because we had too much demand and we ended up staying up all night for four days in a row putting them back together and fixing them before they went out to market because they were all delivered broken.”
Reiterating on Dan’s point, Sam, co-founder and CMO of Comma Group stressed the importance of identifying the problems in your business and utilising technology to solve them, but also understand the technology you’re dealing with to ensure you pick the solution that is right for you. “Whenever you’re embarking on a tech journey, you’ve got to start with the ‘why’,” Sam said. “You’ve got to get absolute clarity on the problem you’re trying to solve first. For me, the level of your tech skills depends on where you’re at in that journey. Once you’ve identified the problem you’re trying to solve and you really understand it and therefore you understand the solution that you’re looking for, I think then the level of tech-savviness becomes important. Because you need knowledge in the room to be able to pick the right solution for you.”
Even with all the hype that comes with technology, there are still common pitfalls that need to be addressed. Automating systems and removing the human interaction component, such as in mass digital marketing campaigns, can sometimes fail to effectively engage with clients and build customer loyalty. “I believe digital marketing is overhyped,” Carl said. “We’ve certainly found in our business that direct mail works far better than any email campaign we could ever do. Through the post, hand-written envelope and handwritten signature, has probably generated us in terms of revenue around 10 to 15 million pounds. For email marketing, I doubt an email has ever been opened.” Reiterating on Carl’s point, Melissa shared her own similar experience about how directly mailing customers has benefited her business: “We just implemented a programme where I’m writing letters specifically to individuals that have been good followers, great customers and really big fans of our concept. We’ve invited them on-site to our factory and let them have a day to see how everything is made. It had a huge response and is way more positive as customers talked about it with everyone, which is so much better than a meaningless email.”
Technology does not suppress creativity, in fact, technology can enhance it. Technology and creativity can go hand in hand and complement each other to allow businesses to be more productive. Combining creative thinking and technology can help create emerging tools and innovate technology – but make sure you use your resources wisely. “Just because you own a piece of software doesn’t make you an expert designer or techie,” Drew Ellis, Founder of We Are Like Minds said. “But the counterbalance to that is that technology can be incredibly empowering. So, if you are a creative person and never had the opportunity to express that, you now got a piece of technology that can allow doing that. It’s down to an innate skill with the individual.”
How do you strategically implement technology in your business? Start with your customer first. Find out what your customer needs, what you want them to gain from your business, and understand your branding inside out. By “starting backwards”, you will be able to strategically utilise technology to enable your business rather than blindly implementing tech without a clear purpose. “Start with the customer experience and work backwards,” Dan said. “What is it that you want the customers to buy into, to feel and to experience with your business and work backwards. How does technology enable that? Creative thinking, understanding brand, message, image, tone of voice is even more important in today’s world than it ever was. Because there is so much competition. Everyone is competing in your space; everyone is competing on your terms online and offline. Why are people buying into you as a business? I think those good old-fashioned principles are more applicable now than ever, having said that, technology is a huge enabler to be able to reach your audience with that. But it does come down to brand a lot of the time.”