How to use technology trends to foster business growth

Jerry Justice, MCSA, MCSE, director of internal technology, SS&G

“We all know technology changes very rapidly. We also know that keeping your organization in step with these changes is directly tied to your business’ success,” says Jerry Justice, MCSA, MCSE, director of internal technology at SS&G.

For example, U.S. online shoppers are projected to spend $327 billion in 2016, up 45 percent from 2012, according to Forrester Research Inc. At the same time, enterprise tablet adoption is expected to grow almost 50 percent per year, according to Digital Ad Agency Vertic.

Smart Business spoke with Justice about the top technology trends — and how to maintain your sanity while working at technology’s pace — as your company heads into 2013.

What are some top trends for businesses?

Consumerization takes success of technology in the consumer world — i.e., iPad, Google Apps, Facebook — and applies that model, or perhaps product, in business. There is real value in understanding how consumerization affects your business and clients, as people want to be provided information seamlessly. Two examples are leveraging YouTube to deliver business and training content, which has roots in the consumer world, and providing seamless mobile access to your website from a client’s smartphone. Keep in mind, consumer success doesn’t always guarantee success in the business environment due to additional variables such as scope, scale, compliance, security, costs, benefits, etc.

Cloud computing has become a transitioning force, driving new value points like scalability, elasticity and on-demand resourcing. This paradigm shift takes time and vendor/consumer adaptations. Not all cloud services are created equal or deliver the same value/features. You still must analyze costs, benefits and how it fits your targets. Technology delivery continues to transition to a more cloud-centric model, allowing technology to shift from ‘keeping the lights on’ to innovation targets, for instance, from simply accessing your checking account and storing personal files on Dropbox to fully hosted email and file-sharing services.

With mobile/social convergence, there is a demand for real-time access to information across a variety of devices and platforms. This continues to blur the lines between social, personal, business and technology, as technology evolves to allow you to do more with your time. For example, the Windows Surface device is a blend of a tablet and PC that converges all contacts in one place — LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, email, etc. In business, this provides timely, relevant information about the business ecosystem.

So, how can your business model address technology’s rapid change?

There are number of steps to follow when implementing new technology:

• Create an atmosphere of change; set an expectation that things should evolve over time, so change becomes the norm.

• Keep open, ongoing communication, the key to success, or failure awareness. Leaders should work together, meet often, be honest,and discuss challenges or roadblocks.

• Make projects change-oriented by focusing on successful steps and being prepared to change course several times.

• Leverage area IT experts who can enhance your technology delivery.

• Train adaptively, contextually in smaller groups, based on job function. This allows focus on specific product features.

• Consider trends/hype as barometers and inquiry points, not as targets.

• Context is everything. Learn why something didn’t work, who actually did the work, what happens ‘behind the scenes’ or when the process was last reviewed.

• Process change, communication gaps or cultural shifts could be challenging the technology implementation. Often, the technology delivery is the easy part.

• Technology delivery is about evolution. Look at paths for six months, 12 months, 18 months and 24 months for products/services and then review how they intersect with each other and emerging trends. Many technologies cannot stand on their own, i.e., SAN storage, but provide huge cost/benefits when combined. You cannot just look at this product costs X dollars.

• Have patience, as technology is complex and change takes time. When things appear challenging, it’s probably a good sign.

Jerry Justice, MCSA, MCSE, is director of internal technology at SS&G. Reach him at (330) 668-9696 or [email protected]

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