The Advantages of New Technology for Businesses
Cutting-edge technology can create high benefits for businesses that are willing to be early adopters. This strategy, however, requires businesses to abandon technologies that never fully mature or that are themselves dropped by their parent companies. A nimble implementation strategy allows entrepreneurs to realize the benefits of new technologies while avoiding business workflow issues when a technology cannot survive in the marketplace.
Create Barriers to Entry
For a small business, a technology should not be evaluated on its own merits but rather for the ways its implementation will allow your business to accomplish things that are impossible for your competitors. It does not matter if a technology speeds up your manufacturing process by 20 percent unless that speed is key to penetrating a market that you cannot otherwise reach. A new technology that is disruptive to the overall marketplace but that will give you the first-to-market advantage, is the best new process to consider.
Most businesses, like most organizations, tend at first to use new technologies in very similar ways to the older ones that they replaced. But a cell phone is not simply a wireless landline phone — it is also a device for rescheduling meetings on the fly, arranging for impromptu visits and avoiding congested traffic. Companies that saw mobile communications for these abilities had an immediate jump on companies that still organized around older telephone paradigms when cell phones gained widespread use. When considering a new technology, make an explicit list of underlying assumptions in your business model — then see if the technology makes any of them obsolete.
Radically Reduce Costs
Paradoxically, new technologies can be both a major source of expenses for your business, as well as a method of eradicating your biggest costs. Regular implementation of technology on the cutting edge means that sometimes you will need to abandon your investment: if the technology fails to work, if it is defeated by its competition or if its parent company folds. On the other hand, some technologies completely change the cost structure for the service they provide: Skype, for example, provides an inexpensive service that replaces both international phone calls and videoconferencing, which previously could cost thousands of dollars annually. Focus on the areas where you will see the biggest bang for your technology buck if a new technology succeeds — but be ready to abandon the cutting edge if it cannot deliver on these promises.