While technology is amazing, it can also cause many challenges if not understood or used correctly. Since it is forever changing, advancements in technology can sometimes move quicker than most businesses are able keep up. To help our readers stay ahead of the curve, we spoke to a few local technologists who were able to share some valuable advice for business owners and leaders on the matter.
“Thanks to technology, businesses have experienced considerable increases in online commerce and productivity!” Exclaimed Alvaro Oropesa with ShineForth. “Technology can enable a business to increase the quality of delivery, efficiency, and performance at any kind of work. Technology is in constant evolution and so are businesses. It is impossible to separate them from each other. What we do at ShineForth is develop systems and solutions that help businesses scale and gain market traction by solving challenging business mission objectives. We are technologists at heart and our passion is to work with purpose based companies to identify opportunities to take their outcomes to the next level. Technology is a great tool, but it is even better if you can understand it or at least know how to use it effectively. I usually encourage future generations to learn programming and how to implement technology security so they are not just simple consumers of the technology. This will increase the security on businesses data and also how personal information is handled.”
Finding an experienced technology partner is the way to go. Finding the right partner and landing on the right technology is hard. It’s expensive to get either wrong. It can slow you down and create debt that is difficult to pay off. That’s why it’s important to work with an experienced partner who you can trust from the start.
Paula Bishop, director and client account management at Scantron Technology Solutions in Omaha, agreed that we’ve entered a time when technology and business are inextricable.
“You really cannot have one without the other, unless your business is a lemonade stand,” Paula stated. “A new business owner has to select the right infrastructure, on-premise and hosted applications, technology-savvy vendors, endpoint devices, and customer-facing technology such as point of sale, digital signage, web site, e-commerce, and technology-based marketing. Maybe 40 years ago you could still launch a competitive business without significant technology investment; however, as the business grows, you’ll need technology to scale efforts and achieve cost efficiencies. Today, the smallest one-person kitchen table business can properly use tech platforms and devices to run circles around a larger, bricks-and-mortar competitor.”
According to Paula, the two greatest areas where Scantron adds value are in supporting secure, highly-performing technology environments—from maintenance and troubleshooting to long-term roadmapping and policy development—and in the total hardware lifecycle, from scoping and sourcing network devices and software to implementations, upgrades, and disposition of obsolete assets. “We serve companies remotely and on site for support, maintenance, and installations,” Paula explained. “Some of our customers say it is like getting the equivalent of a large company’s IT team, but for much less than the cost of a full-time employee.”
Paula also pointed out a few trends she’s noticed in terms of technology in the workplace: “Desk by desk, companies are realizing that tech-empowered employees and customers are more loyal. Virtual meetings are becoming the norm, which accommodates people on the road and working from home. Employees use their social media pages to evangelize for their companies. Work schedules are really fluid for knowledge-type work because teams have many ways to collaborate. IT-wise, we’re capitalizing on the trend toward specialization and outsourcing of complex, continuous functions like cybersecurity and hardware lifecycle management. Large companies prefer to delegate big, geographically dispersed projects instead of taking their limited IT resources away from more strategic efforts. Small and medium companies who lack deep IT resource, knowledge, and time, also know that they need help evaluating and improving their cybersecurity, or recognizing when it’s time to phase out obsolete equipment, develop an IT roadmap, or handle repairs. No one has time to sit on hold with an equipment manufacturer waiting for a return authorization, and no one wants to pay out a $20,000 ransom to unencrypt their ransomed data.”
“Another trend, in terms of platforms, is the migration of major business processes from on-premise applications to the cloud,” Paula added. “This includes all types of applications. Businesses who had no time or skill set for system administration can now be sure they’re always working with the most up to date software.”
We also asked Paula what she would say to a business owner who says that they are “technologically challenged” and therefore hesitant/scared to implement specific technologies into their operation. “I’ve witnessed hesitancy around many types of platforms and systems,” Paula confirmed. “Some of it is rational, such as concern over adopting a disciplined social media strategy, migrating to barcode or RFID inventory methods, or deploying a mobile app. Each of these has valid use cases that can benefit customers, employees, and the business. If the risk and cost outweigh the probable benefit, you don’t implement. There are many times where the opportunity cost and risk of not implementing something outweigh the cost savings of doing nothing. Cybersecurity is one of those things. When a smart business owner feels ‘technologically challenged’ they can’t play opossum, but they can delegate responsibility to people who eat, sleep, and breathe technology.”
It’s apparent that the biggest reason most businesses outsource their IT needs is to decrease security risks. However, if your operation is large enough, the best security measure to take is to have a full-time individual or knowledgeable IT team that’s constantly monitoring your system. With any type of position at any job, there is pressure to find the right person who not only has the expertise to successfully complete the tasks at hand, but who also fits the culture of your company. The recruiting and hiring process can be very time consuming and stressful because there is that pressure. As a business owner or manager who is already spread thin handling various other responsibilities, outsourcing your recruiting efforts is a huge help.
In Omaha, Concentric Corporation has been “connecting excellence” for the past 15 years! Whether your business is looking for a full time or contracted employee in an account management/sales, information technology, or sales and marketing position, their team can help you make a hiring decision you feel good about. Today’s IT professionals have to be, among other things, highly intelligent, flexible in the face of change, and passionate about their field. Concentric will help you find a candidate who’s ready to help your company grow—and grow within your company. Since Concentric began closely tracking their placements in 2005, their retention rate has grown to over 80%. Whereas some recruiting efforts have taken a turn to a more transactional, online approach, Concentric’s process goes in the opposite direction. Their process is deliberate and purposeful, and they always take the extra step with both parties’ best interests in mind, focusing on the relationship first and foremost.
Another security measure to take on top of having someone dedicated to monitoring your business’s data and protecting you from viruses and other cyber security risks, it’s also recommended to utilize technology in terms of property protection. With surveillance cameras, authorization/validation methods, and other security options, you will always know what is happening at your business regardless of where you are. Engineered Controls has solutions for small offices to multi-campus facilities. They are passionately committed to helping their customers achieve their safety and security goals with different security system offerings.
“Most people undervalue how much protection a security system will provide compared to the cost. In most cases, added security actually saves businesses time and money by deterring revenue loss from stolen merchandise, destruction of valuable information, and vandalism. They also create a safe work environment for your employees, allowing you to make sure all your employees are in line, and give you peace of mind when you’re away,” Pat Killeen from Engineered Controls told us. “Today, you can get your security system tied into your phone or email so that you’re never disconnected from knowing what’s going on. The latest security systems are all about constant communication and crystal clear reliability. At Engineered Controls, we always keep the user in mind and contain an efficient and straightforward approach to safety.”
Keep your customers coming back by utilizing technology that is designed to help your business excel in such a competitive marketplace. Updating your technology and having the right people in place to oversee the maintenance of it will save you more than peace of mind in the long run.