As technology evolves, so do business needs and consumer expectations. This can be especially challenging for companies in the small-to-medium market. Many companies face challenges such as keeping up with the latest technologies, handling integrations, scaling operations as the team grows, and maintaining infrastructure — to name a few. Most small and midsize companies have money for technology, though there may not be the budget or need for their own IT staff or a large systems integrator.
As companies try to expand and innovate, it’s common to encounter gray areas. That said, here are a few high-level technology problems to pay attention to, as well as some tips for thinking differently.
Keeping up with changes in technology
A 2016 Forbes Insights and Cox Business survey asked 300 small business decision-makers about their biggest technology challenges. Of six possible challenges, a 31 percent majority cited “understanding changing technology needs and what products and services to use” as the top challenge. Knowledge is power; it’s also half the battle.
Outdated or incompatible technologies aren’t simply a problem for your IT person (or lack thereof). They’re roadblocks to productivity and collaboration across your organization. The only thing worse than falling behind the times in terms of your team’s technology is wasting money on the wrong technology or implementing the right technology poorly.
Issues with integration and maintenance
Nothing lasts forever. This is especially true in the world of technology. As new technologies are released, organizations without the bandwidth or technical skills to make sense of them are left playing catch-up. Trying to make a new technology work with an old application or outdated system is like raising the dead: impossible (barring some kind of supernatural miracle).
And oftentimes, basic maintenance is the larger issue. For instance, a friend of mine worked for a nonprofit that relied heavily on their Salesforce org for donor data. But they didn’t have anyone with the training or time to maintain it. They often dealt with redundancies in data and had to look in multiple places to piece together related information about a single donor. Generally speaking, if that kind of maintenance and pre-planning implementation isn’t done by someone with expert knowledge of the system, it can create barriers to efficiency.
No technology roadmap or decision-makers
At your company, chances are it’s someone’s job to budget for technology, choose technology, and implement technology. But whose job is it to triage technology needs, stay informed about technology trends, and troubleshoot down the road? Going back to the challenge of understanding changing technology needs and knowing what technologies are right for your organization: Do you have designated decision-makers and a plan that goes beyond the buying process? There are multiple factors to consider:
- Finding IT support — on your team, outside of the company, or a combination of the two.
- Making sure your technologies are compatible with your customers (if necessary for your business).
- Recognizing and addressing skills gaps. And from there, making a plan to educate your team and augment your technical staff through a model like crowdsourcing.
- Identifying different technology needs across your team (e.g., Excel vs. Google Sheets, Trello vs. Redbooth, etc.).
Solving technology problems
For smaller companies, mismanaging technology can be a particularly expensive disaster, eating up resources that should be put to better use. And while these technology problems may be common, they don’t have to be. Smarter planning and implementation is possible for companies at every level and size.
If you’ve taken stock of your technology problems, you’re already ahead of the competition. And fortunately, Topcoder can help with the rest: addressing your technical skills gap, increasing bandwidth, providing ideation, and more. It’s time to scale smarter, not just faster.