If your business is to do well, you need to be exploring new avenues to take constantly. Whether you have inventions spilling out of your notepad, or you prefer to work on honing one particular project, technology can aid you in many different ways. In fact, it’s an enabler. Technology helps all business owners innovate, invent and explore – meaning they can produce new offerings on a regular basis. However, if you’ve not used technology in this fashion before, it can be hard to know where to start. From using data to upgrading your servers, there are a million different methods and strategies you can test out. So, use the below pointers to help you engage with technology and push your business to be the best it can be.
Dig further into your customers’ needs
The most innovative, popular inventions or services come out of a need that no one has noticed yet. You need to pay close attention to your market, and see how and where you can solve a problem that’s still causing grief. You can use data to understand this more: look at everything from search queries online to buyer journey drop outs.
Your network will receive high volumes of traffic, so make sure you’re paying attention to it. Just because you’re hearing things that you don’t expect – don’t ignore it. Listen closely to what your customers want, and try to realize it for them. Likewise, remember to compare the data you’re getting on your network to what you see in other places, such as on social media.
Make the most of the IoT and Big Data
The Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data, is helping companies innovate at speed. You suddenly have access to every single part of your customers’ lives, and you’re able to see its context. You can link situations and occurrences together, and try to see the causes and correlation between problems and solutions.
You’ll be able to get all of this data in real-time too, so you’ll be able to produce as you go. However, you shouldn’t let monitoring and analytics get in the way of customer experience, or stop your site or network functioning normally. Be sure to update your methods and technology if you’re finding that it’s falling behind and not gathering the results you expect. The pace of change in IT is quick, and it doesn’t take long to fall behind.
Take the stress out of testing
If you’ve decided on a new application or service, you need to test it. This can be incredibly fraught and stressful, so you need to find the right environment in which to test it. The wrong results can set you up for a disaster, so you need to be confident that when you move on from testing, you’re making the right decision.
A testing environment like Sandbox for NetSuite offers you a safe, secure and isolated testing environment, where you won’t need to worry about anything affecting your production side. Most testing environments let you customize them, so you can prove exactly what you need to.
Use scalable servers
One of the most ingenious ways that technology lets you explore and innovate, is through the introduction of scaling your servers up and down in an elastic way. The cloud has given businesses a multitude of benefits, but this agility is one of the best. As a side note, if you’re not already using the cloud, or thinking about the journey there – then you really should. The cloud is the fastest way to achieve innovation in any industry.
The cloud lets you scale capacity up and down as it’s needed. So, when you need more power, or you’re experiencing high levels of demand, your servers automatically spin up. Then when the demand reduces, so do the servers. This ensures that you get the performance you need, when you need it, but also that you’re not wasting money on unnecessary capacity.
Disrupt your industry
One of the best ways to succeed in this digital age is to be a disruptor. By shaking up your industry and offering a ground-breaking new service or product, you’ll be joining the ranks of some of the most popular start-ups, like Uber, Deliveroo and Air BnB. Technology has enabled disruption as companies can move fast, and offer services without any resource.
Just by having a reliable, easy-to-use app, and powerful servers, these companies have been able to take over their industries, without owning any cars, any restaurants or any hotels, respectively. If you start looking outside of the box, you’ll be able to be a disruptor, and change how your industry works.
Try starting a start-up
If there are new channels and avenues you want to explore, but you don’t want to put your current business at risk, then why not create your own start-up, set up as another arm of the business? You already have all of the IT resources that you need; it’s just a case of putting theory into practice. You can use your existing business model and processes if they work well, or try experimenting with new strategies. The start-up might fail fast, or it might take off – but either way, you’ll learn a lot about how technology can help you innovate.
Improve your go-to-market time
Using technology and the cloud vastly improves your go-to-market time. You no longer have to spend days, weeks or months provisioning new IT or new resources. You simply just use more capacity on your package. Likewise, you don’t need to invest in any extra resource or physical IT, as your current technology is ready for you.
With an improved go-to-market time, you can get your inventions and innovation out to your customers before anyone else. This ensures that even if your competitors have similar ideas, you won’t lose out just because you weren’t as fast.
Put more emphasis on user experience
Technology lets you track your users in ways never before possible. So, you’ve got no excuse for poor user experience (UX). Everything you do should be customer-centric, and luckily, technology helps. With so many routes to analyze and data to gather, you can get a much better idea of how your customers want to interact with you, your website and your app.
Ian Dixon is a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional), founder of TheDigitalLifestyle.com tech site and producer of the weekly The Digital Lifestyle Show podcast. Ian has been writing and talking about Windows for over 10 years and has over 20 years in IT as an IT Manager. Ian has thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook and over 4 million views on his YouTube channel.