Technology in Business: Invest and implement. Rinse and repeat. Again, and again until…?

As we’re at the mid-year mark, it’s essential we look ahead forward and review our goals through the end of the year and into 2023 & 2024. But too often we don’t take into consideration how we’re going to ensure we achieve those goals. Meaning, understanding what will be involved, doing the necessary prep work, and learning about and investing in technology that will help us achieve those goals.

As the world accelerates at break-neck speed towards “everything digital” it is vitally important and absolutely essential we stay on top of technology. This cannot be stressed enough! It is reality and is paramount to any type of business success. The key is not to look at this from a negative perspective. Instead, embrace it for what it is, and for what it can do to help grow your business.

Technology is not the enemy. It truly is your friend and one that can help you in more ways than you could ever imagine.

I don’t want to scare anyone to death here, but everything digital is an easy concept to realize as compared to a growing trend toward the Meta sphere, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and who knows what else? Many organizations are already fast-tracking efforts into these relatively new technologies.

Let’s slide back a bit. Imagine doing business today without computers? Without the internet? Without a telephone? Correction – Without a smart phone?

Many business owners in the late ’80’s were reluctant to embrace computers and many thought the internet was a fad and it would wither away. They couldn’t even begin to imagine a paperless business. Just 10 short years ago, many business owners had the same thoughts about social media and digital technology. Heck, a lot of them are still complaining about Web 2.0, when most of us know we’re well beyond 2.0.

But how far? Is there a stopping point? Yes, there is a stopping point as some technology that was extremely hot at one point have disappeared almost overnight. Blackberry and PalmPilot are two that immediately come to mind.

At a point not too long ago, seemingly everything that was changed or improved was labeled as 2.0. Then, we saw some 2.1’s and such to differentiate minor changes or improvements. A few weeks ago, I saw reference to 5.0. I know I’ve seen at least one 3.0, but what happened to 4.0? And is there really such a thing as anything more than 2.0.

Mind you, I’m not referring to update versions of software. I get that. I’m referring to the labeling of more intangible things (methods, processes, philosophies) like Management 2.0 or Marketing 3.0 or Whatever 4.0 but that may include a particular software or app making it completely or in-part technology-centered integrated at some point.

Is digital technology different than other technologies? I believe the best answer for small business owners is a resounding no. After all, it’s all integrated together beyond method to software as is the case in a typical small business or restaurant today.

I guess the most important thing to realize, and probably quite differently than looking back at technological advances in the ’80’s and ’90’s is the fact that today’s consumer has embraced “technology” and has incorporated it into their daily routine. Of course, let’s not lose sight of the younger generations that utilize technology because, quite frankly, they don’t really know any other way of doing things. It’s the norm to them. Actually, younger generations don’t even look at it as technology!

So, back to today’s consumer… As they have embraced technology at a quicker pace than in the past, they demand and expect brands to have embraced it as well. They also expect brands to be ahead of the curve, and at the very least, ahead of where they are as consumers using technology. I guess a key question to ask at this time is, “At what point does today’s and tomorrow’s consumer meld together and eliminate the transition stage?”

No alt text provided for this image

I ask that because the transition stage is today’s business owner’s comfort zone. It’s the comfort zone relied upon that minimizes the sense of urgency to embrace technology. It’s the comfort zone that has many business owners stating, “I have time. I’ll check it out next year.” or “Our customers are older. They don’t use this new stuff. I’ll worry about it when I have to.”

It’s important to understand, today’s consumer, regardless of age, has embraced, or at the very least, accepted technology. They are more sophisticated than ever before. They’re also more diligent. Their expectations are growing by the minute, and most have ventured far beyond their own comfort zones. If you don’t believe that to be true, just look in the hands of many seniors today and you’ll see a smart phone.

Add to this the influence of younger generations that in the past would have been considered to be bringing up the rear, that are now pushing forward, and pushing hard and without even realizing it because it’s also the norm for them. “Hey grandpa, let me show you how to book and manage your cruise on your iPhone.” is a scenario I’ve seen time and again in my own home.

Before you know it, the transition stage, the comfort zone, will be gone, and business owners that have not embraced, accepted AND committed to technology will not survive.

Investment in technology is a cost of business today no different that the telephone quickly came to be as business owners realized the benefit of what was initially considered a disruption or even a nuisance. Even the role of the telephone has significantly changed from what was the norm not that long ago.

How many other technological advances that have become mainstream in business today were initially thought to be a disruption and nuisance? Or the advances that in short order replaced what had been an advance in technology or the way business was conducted just a few years prior? Fax machines were all the rage and then before we knew it, they were obsolete.

How long will it be before humans will become obsolete in business as we know it? Far-fetched? Possibly, but to a degree, not too far-fetched when you consider the changes being implemented in the restaurant industry with kiosks to order food, robots preparing orders AND also delivering food to tables and even to homes, and taking it a step further, home-delivery via drones.

The question I’ll leave you to ponder is this… At what point does the local business owner become obsolete?

No alt text provided for this image

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!