The gilded cage of technology. Do we have a key?

It is 2015 and the world is controlled by technology. People have become the slaves of ubiquity, of the constant need to improve their productivity, balancing on the thin line between their family life, passion and 24/7 workload; the citizens of the dynamic reality, in which privacy is served with their morning coffee, and relationships are built through applications, tools and social networking sites. Every human step is traced and analysed by various applications that know where the user is, as well as what his or her habits, tastes and activities are. Machines work without human intervention, 3D printers produce artificial limbs, business is conducted in the cloud – dealing with any number of customers without slightest difficulty. This is how the introductory part of a fantasy film in the eighties could have looked like. This is how our reality, thirty years later, does actually look. Technology has irrevocably changed, not only our daily lives, but also the dynamics of the business world and its possibilities.

I change because I have to; I change because I want to

In an era when over 95% of companies have computers with Internet access, it is hard to imagine that companies would not use technology for building competitive advantage in the market. From streamlining internal processes via IT solutions by launching new sales channels, new e-products and services, new forms of communication with the customer up to the technological revolution in the industry. The spectacular success stories of companies such as Uber – taxi services, Airbnb – hotel services, Zipcar – public transport, make business technologies seem unattainable for much top management. A similar perception is held by the companies with bad experiences in the area of implementation – the absence of a well-run analysis or pre-implementation workshops can greatly hinder the whole process of digitalization. The implementation scale may be very different. The greater the importance of new technologies in the development of the company and in the building of competitive advantage the greater the deference and sensitivity of the management towards the dynamic changes in the area of new technologies.

A utopian vision of the business of the future

How about imagining your business in 10, 20, 30 years’ time consistently leaving the element of new technologies in the development strategy aside? Looking through the prism of technological change, there appears an image of “Gone With the Wind” – a form that cannot be retained in the world of tomorrow. Perhaps in the next 10 years some branches will pass over the technological aspect, although it is difficult for me to recall any example:

– chimney sweep services? Smoke detectors, smoke toxicity testing – looking at the usefulness of such data, it seems that they will not go without technology.

– death care industry? Considering the fact that the last goodbye is so traumatic for many people, a number of them would probably prefer to do it via the Internet.

– the world’s oldest profession? Well, even here there is much room for the development of technology 😉

Even if a business escaped from using technology to develop or increase its efficiency, it is hard to argue with marketing, which in the web often takes place beyond the company’s control.

A cup of espresso can sometimes work wonders

Is there a good time for the company to implement new technological solutions or improve/change the current system? Or maybe the question should rather read – when is it high time for the company to implement technology? It is enough to answer a few questions, to realize that this path of development can bring real benefits to business.

  • Can we name the areas of our company operation that need improvement?
  • Do the processes in the company take too long and are they too bothersome?
  • Are there errors, omissions related to imprecision and the lack of adequate control?
  • Do the company systems have performance, utility problems? Do they lack functionality? Do they use the full potential of their users?
  • Do our current and potential customers use new technologies with which we could affect their purchasing process?
  • Can our products/services be improved/enhanced thanks to the use of new technologies?
  • Can our communication with the market run more efficiently and more effectively?
  • Do the leading players in the industry in which we operate use technological solutions to build competitive advantage?

IT solutions are like good coffee, a small cup is enough to feel energy and willingness to act. Sometimes introducing a small innovation or a new functionality to an existing solution, e.g. in the area of internal communication, may make the employees better informed, more linked to the company and its organizational culture, and it may make it easier to control the emerging initiatives, ideas and challenges. Such “technological espresso” does not have to be expensive – good information products out of the box can improve much in the company at a relatively low price.

The scale of informatization depends on both the size of the company and its openness to innovative approach to business. Risk appetite and company budget are also significant. Digitalization or permanent expansion of existing IT solutions can be an idea for the development, and sometimes the last resort to minimize costs and the risk of bankruptcy. This article is the first in the series of “An IT solution? Yes, please!” The next one will discuss the question of the scale of implementation, when to use the method of small steps and when to jump at the deep end. Follow our blog.

author: Małgorzata Korowaj