Gaining any advantage over the competition is clearly a goodthing, whether it is via your products, your people or your pricing.
Pricing is always a sensitiveissue. Winning business by adding value is significantly preferable to winningbusiness on lowest price. Ensuring your business operates in a cost-effectivemanner enables you to maximise profits. Technology has a role at alloperational levels within business but how do you use it effectively to gainadvantage? It may not be as difficult as you think.
1. Find someone to trust – this is critical,everything else follows from here. You are not expected to know all thepossibilities so work with a partner who will guide you through. Serviceproviders and technology partners should not be trying to make a quick sale,they should be working with you to find beneficial solutions and fostering longterm relationships.
2. Understand the need – don’t get technology justbecause someone else has it, even if they are the competition, or just becauseit is ‘the latest thing’. Understand how your business is proposing to use the technologyand what benefit you want from it.
3. Don’t get drawn in by gizmos – make thetechnology work for you. Find something that does what you want, how you wantit. Don’t re-design infrastructures or redo all your internal processes justbecause a piece of technology works in a particular way.
4. Get the people who will use it involved – makesure that the individuals who will be using technologies on a daily basis are involvedin the selection and its usage. There is nothing worse than making daily tasksmore difficult because all considerations were at a higher level.
5. Ensure you maximise benefits – while keeping aneye on 3 above, make sure that you are getting as much benefit from thetechnology you are using as you can. As an example, Microsoft Office 365 is asuite of products that many businesses subscribe to, primarily for email anddocument storage. There are also a range of collaboration and security productswithin the suite that can be beneficial to you. Don’t use features for the sakeof it but do analyse whether, and how, they can provide additional benefits.
6. Ensure appropriate design – any technology fromservers, storage, network, software etc will only operate as expected if thesolution is properly designed. Ensure that expected benefits are realised byhaving the design completed by someone with appropriate skills.
7. Ensure appropriate deployment – same as above,don’t compromise the benefits with poor deployment or configuration.
8. Support environment – make sure that you haveappropriate support. Technologies need updating and changing as well asprotection against the possibility of failure. Support agreements with thevendor or 3rd parties ensure that the solution continues to operatesuccessfully.
9. Security – always an issue and generallyrestrictive. New functionality should fit into existing security models. Securitymust be considered as part of the design and deployment.
Gaining a technical advantage is not always about deployingnew technologies or significant change, though this can provide benefits, it isabout using the right technologies at the right time in the right way toproduce business benefits. Make sure the technologies you use are properlydesigned and deployed. Above all, understand what you are trying to achieve andget good advice from people you trust.