I’ve been mulling over some things lately; this quote, from noted futurist and scientist Roy Amara, sums up my feelings:
‘The problem is that we (business owners) tend to overestimate the effect technology has on us in the short run, and over underestimate the impact in the long run.’
I agree. SMEs are such a big part of the economy, but they need providers with innovative ways to deploy technology to improve outcomes like productivity, efficiency and growth.
I’ve noticed that the average New Zealand SME business uses about eight different cloud applications without seeing any noticeable improvement in productivity or profit. Kiwi businesses are riddled with cloud software solutions that cost money, are largely unused and don't talk to each other. They're surrendering control of critical data to offshore multi-nationals.
In my experience, I believe Kiwis are too easily seduced out of their technology dollars. It’s time to sharpen up!
The latest shiny object on offer is artificial intelligence (AI) – most of the time this technology only complicates things and wastes time.
Big budget marketing hypes up many cloud applications like Trello, Slack, HubSpot and Basecamp. On the face of it, they seem cheap. But what nobody is telling you, is that to get value out of these tools requires a significant investment in time and training, and at the same time, your critical data – such as financial information and your client details – are locked in these applications, which do not talk to each other.
Not only do you not 'own’ your data, there's not much you can do with it outside of those apps. My advice is: fix your objectives and then select a simple, best of breed set of tools that talk to each other and which allow you to retain control of your data.
1. Take back your time, Consolidate.
Most of you won’t have the time, energy or brain space to objectively look at your business and build a plan around the company. Consolidate your suppliers, consolidate the technology and make them work together as a team – you should not be the glue that has to hold everything together.
2. Get goals
I know, 101. Set your goals. Know where you are going. Have a plan, and then get the help and the tools you need to get there. Be wise in your selection of the tools you need.
3. Keep your ‘context’ consistent.
Let’s face it, multitasking is exhausting! Prioritise your most important tasks, for example, sales, and hire staff or engage suppliers to do the other urgent-day-to-day tasks like writing your health and safety manuals, looking after your financials and implementing technology solutions.
You need a solution that glues the ‘best of breed’ apps together and lets you keep control of the data. Consolidated, goal orientated and context consistent. Watch this space.