A BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY GUIDE
A BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY GUIDE Chapter 1. Technology in Business Technology in Business 1 New technology creates the future. I was watching a documentary at gem.cbc.ca/documentaries about some Chinese guys with pictures of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs on their wall.
The world thrives on the inventor. Way before Tesla, we had Archimedes, Copernicus, Galileo and even DaVinci. Technology absolutely gave us everything in these beautiful easy lives we live.
We have no idea what it was like in the past. I m old enough that I remember our summer cottage with a well, a fireplace and an outhouse. If I had my way in education, I d get rid of all the social science crap and focus on technology. Technology in business can be a good thing but quite often the particular technological innovation costs much more than planned and doesn't deliver the results expected so it's a double-edged sword. Technology in general is good but not across the board.
For some companies, the costs do not justify the benefits. Do a cost-benefit analysis before you embark on the latest technology. From a business point of view, there are two sectors of technology in business: 1.) Technology in the means of production which the customer doesn't see. He sees only the end product. 2.)
Technology to do business with the customer. The obvious one is to have a website. Another one is to get listed in those directories google and other search engines are putting out such that if you're looking for store type x or product x in general or in a particular zipcode and you type it up on a search engine, your company name will appear. You want to make it easy for the customer to do business with you.
Toll-free numbers, e-mail transactions, fax machines, merchant credit card status are all great things. Intranet (an internet network for within a company) is a good thing but they're expensive to put in. If the company is small, there are ways around it like give everyone their separate PC and if they have to exchange information they can do it the old-fashioned way with discs but on the other hand, when you put something like an intranet in where everybody can share knowledge and instantly communicate with each other, this is could be the precursor for a quantum leap in the way your company does business and makes advances. The technology itself is just a machine.
It's what it makes happen that could be great. If an intranet can make people share ideas, contribute ideas and discuss them online, it could be the catalyst that brings forth great ideas that improve the company. For example, in the real world, the folks in production might never see the folks in research and development but if you had a chatroom on your intranet for discussing current concerns and new ideas, together they could come up with something great.
A couple of guys believe in this process so much that they wrote a book about it, Unleashing the Killer App, killer-apps.com, which is about setting up conditions at your company that encourage the free flow and exchange of ideas and the freedom to try out new things because this is how most of the big things that changed history came along in past history, people exchanging ideas and trying out new things. In order to help achieve this, you have to get rid of the sleeping dogs and old timers in the company and replace them with fresh, new, young, curious blood then get them to work as a team united for a common cause. The customer is the best person to develop your products.
Ask them for feedback. Pay for good ideas. Have a contest and prize for the customer who submits the best idea for an innovation. With an intranet, everybody is equal.
The information is presented so that everybody in the company can see it. It's not hidden away in a file somewhere, accessible only to a few insiders. Think of it as a virtual community within a company. The buzz word nowadays is what they call the learning organization or the teaching and learning organization which assumes that the knowledge needed to be successful is always changing so the concept is that you design an intranet and a website for consumers and simply be as transparent as possible. Constantly fill them up with knowledge about the company, new ideas you have, new directions you want to go then put the word out that you invite feedback and suggestions on how to achieve these objectives.
The concept of a learning organization is that alone with our own ideas we might be good performers but together sharing our ideas we could create great things. I cover the learning organization elsewhere in the book. Some companies have folded because they couldn't afford the expense of their technology or it didn't bring in the revenue they thought it would. I won't name any websites here but there are many high profile websites started by people successful in business in general which didn't turn out as expected so after a large loss, they quietly shut down. This applies with any technology.
You don't just buy new equipment on the word of one or two people. You research it, get objective viewpoints, see what the competitors say, try to see a demonstration of the product in use. You have to see what's out there.
There are different ways to solve a problem which means there are different technologies that could be used to solve the same problem. With car technology, we have gas, diesel, electric, hydrogen, biodiesel cars and even an air car. They're all different but they all do the same thing. Find all these opposing concepts and do some serious research. Think before you install new technology.
Don't just do it because it's the latest rage. Analyze the exact contributions this new technology will make to this company. A big complaint some people have is that they take a good device like a cell phone then attach all kinds of trivial bells and whistles to it such that it gives the user too many choices. It complicates things. Keep it simple.
Another problem is the use of technology. If it's too complex, it defeats the purpose which is to simplify the work process. Get a demonstration first to see that it's actually simple to operate. Don't just get it installed then throw an operations manual at your workers and expect them to figure it out. You have to get a qualified teacher there to teach them how to do it properly. One thing is certain, that the future is unknown and that chances are that your field will be transformed by technology in some major way in the next twenty years so you had better respect it and make an effort to keep up on it, at least in your field because if you don't, your business could end up on the scrap heap of the memory file if you let competitors leave you in the dust because they had the sense to keep up with the changing times.
If you do decide to go along with major technology, don't staff the project or the changeover with old timer conservatives resistant to change and simply not into learning new tricks. Clean out your old-timers when you bring your new technology in. Get some ambitious young people to staff the changeover.
A big problem with information technology is security and privacy. People can steal the information that's being passed around and stored in databases. There's also the issue of spying on employee usage of computers. As it stands now, employees should have no expectation of privacy on the computer in the workplace.
The boss has the right to monitor their computer usage. If you're using knowledge and information either on your website or company intranet, put copyright marks on it and be careful not to steal anyone else's copyrighted material. Technology in Business 2 With all of your technology, don't lose the human touch. The use of technology in business is very important to give you an edge over your competition, to make your business faster, better and easier and to open yourself up to a new customer base, for example as with a website, toll-free number, e-mail information packets, merchant credit card status, taking checks over the phone, etc. You owe it to yourself to check these things out firstly with the magazines, journals and newsletters in your particular field and the publications your trade or professional organization puts out, either magazines, books or an informative website. If there's anything new out there, they will probably cover it.
Look through the ads in magazines related to your field because that's where the manufacturing companies advertise to sell you better tools for your trade. For a good list of all manner of magazines, refer to a periodical directory at the library which neatly lists magazines and journals in most fields. Another source of finding the latest technology in your field is to look through the 29 volume Thomas Register at the library to find the list of manufacturers who make the tools and machines of your trade. Contact all of them, tell them you're in the field, ask to be put on their mailing list and look over the promotional literature they send you about their machines, tools, etc.
The right automation could revolutionize your business and open you up to find new markets to sell since you're creating more product. For general technology in business, like computers, communications, copiers and e-commerce, there are several high tech magazines on the market that cover the latest innovations in these fields. Go to the library or a magazine stand and see what they have and look through other sections of this book for resource information. Some general tech magazines are Home Office Computing, Pc World, Business 2.0, Red Herring, Fast Company, Wired, E-Commerce, etc.
Consumer Reports, consumerreports.org routinely tests these type of products and offers contact information in a little section at the back. Go to the library, look through all the last year's issues to find the latest information on common technology products. The latest innovation in manufacturing and industry is the use of artificial intelligence (computer programs that think) to design better machines, assembly lines and processes of manufacturing products. There are computers whose function is to make the manufacturing part of your business easier. Look for these manufacturers of artificial intelligence expert systems as they're called in the Thomas Register at the library under your particular field.
Technology is the wave of the future for all aspects of business. If you don't stay up on the latest developments and go with the flow, sooner or later you will get left behind. You have to get connected to the latest technology in order to be competitive and run a better business. Educate your workers about it too.
Don't worry about technology reducing your workload. It will just free you up so you can focus on the things that really matter. Never lose sight of your two most important assets, people and the time with which to run your business well.
Use technology to reduce the time in your routine tasks to have more time for real work. By the same token, don't let technology get its hooks into you so much that you lose the people connection. Never have an answering machine answer your phone if you want new customers because when a prospective customer hears that, he hangs up and goes to the next business in the phone book. There are critics of technology out there. They say it complicates business, sets our culture on a path towards frivolous push-button consumer goods, a more hurried, less personal lifestyle and intertwines everything such that when something screws up, it screws up big. In the old days, if your car went into the water, you had a chance with manually operated windows but nowadays with electrically powered windows, you're screwed unless you can smash it out.
It's like this with a lot of things. Think of the big power blackouts, the big viruses causing computer crashes worldwise, train crashes. These things are all caused by technology, too much reliance on it without manual back-up systems in place.
And the thing is that one little thing can screw up a big operation. Just be aware of this in the operation of your company. Technology is good, there's no doubt about that but don't become so dependent on it that you can't do your work if something breaks. Have back-ups in place, either a second set of redundant technology or a manual way to do the job while your technology is getting fixed. In the old days, anybody could fix a car.
Nowadays, it costs $80 right off the top to hook the car's computer up to the dealer's computer reader. Is this good or bad? Is it progress? Think new technology before you do it. Offer a manual option if you can. With all your technology, don't take the personal tough out of doing business. Use your technology to be more interactive with your customers (offer them chatrooms on your internet, give them your e-mail address, ask them for feedback, what they want) and provide them with as much information as you can about what you do and the field you're in. If you're in that type of business, give away the software for free in order to sell more hardware.
This is what Netscape and Sun Micro (Java) did. Experiment with new technology. See what's out there in the technology in your field, in e-commerce and in mobile communications. Try different things. Settle on what works for you. Educate your workers to the new technology out there.
It's in virtually every part of the business like inventory control, intranets, cell phones, wireless e-mails, product tracking, customer support, etc. Technology in Business One-Liners If you don't keep up with emerging technology, your business will suffer at some point in time. Make everything you do connected and interactive with your website. Put service into your products and vice versa.
Offer fast service and order processing. Offer 24 hr. sales and service with a toll-free line. Offer customized service. Take all special requests like three hard drives in a new computer.
Make offers that anticpate customer demands. The more you educate your customer the more he buys. Make your products more advanced. Do what Amazon does. They send e-mails out recommending new books based on books you bought in the past. Ask your customers directly and indirectly for ideas and feedback.
Make your website great and easy to use. Give it a simple name. Copy good ideas from other companies. Keep the personal touch in business. make your website more homey than business. Offer a toll-free line for people to call.
Novelty is king on the web. Develop a brand image about yourself. Your future potential matters, not where you are right now. Buy a Computer for Business smallbusinesscomputing.com apple.com/smallbusiness attbroadband.com auctions.cnet.com cablemodem.net cdw.com
dell.com/us/en/bsd gateway.com/work/smb/index pricescan.com shopper.cnet.com ubid.com zdnet.com/products/hardwareuser Computer in Business sid.com, a small business computer blog computer-ideas-security-consultants.com businessideasgroup.com/computer.htm internet-business-systems.com ideascomputer.com computerideasonline.com
compublog.net/computer-business-ideas.html en.wikipedia.org/wiki/computers_in_business computerecommerce.com/business_ideas.htm Speed in Business In the modern world, customers want it all and want it now, a line out of an old song from the pop group Queen which is true of the mindset of modern day, urban people.
When they want something, they want it right away. This is where you come in as a business owner. You try to provide orders with quick delivery, quick service right when they come in your store and quick service when they order something by mail order or need maintenance done. The fastest guy will get the repeat customers and technology will help you get there so use it. Find the fastest delivery company in your area and use them.
When a customer sends you an order over the phone or over the internet, if you get on it right away and they get it faster than they expected to, they will be impressed and come back. I know because it happened to me with a few companies and it impressed me because I didn't expect it and from then on, I went to them, expected quick results and got them. The slow poke will be eaten alive by his faster competition. The other areas that speed is relevant in business is to act on great ideas when you get them before your competition upstages you and to keep abreast of all new technologies both in your field and in general and use whatever you deem good to help your business run faster and more efficiently. When you get a new idea that you think is great, run it by your business colleagues and analyze it then if you think it's good, check to see if anyone else is doing it to see what your competition is out there if any and act on it.
It's all about a great idea combined with hard work. The more original it is, the faster you have to be to become the bonafide pioneer therefore the market leader of it. As soon as people see success, the copycats will come out.
Minimize bureaucracy. Work on the guts of the project. If it ain't broke, don't fix it but keep on your toes analyzing the current state of it all the time. It's all about getting your product to market as quickly as possible.
In a competitive world, it's the fast business that makes it big. Keep it simple. Make the product launch a personal war. Hire fast people who think fast like you to get the product or service out there. Try #658.45 or HC79 at the library for books about technology in business. Chapter 2.
The Worlds of Technology Business Technology Websites Try #650.4038, #658.05-45, HC79 or HD30-HD60 and HF5415-5548 at the library for books about technology in business. bta.org, business technology association teach-nology.com/tutorials biztechsource.com emergenow.com, emerging solutions emerging solutions is a professional services firm helping global and mid market firms maximize the benefits of business applications by using leading edge technology techjournalsouth.com
communities.msn.ca/BusinessProfessional&naventryid=175 email-policy.org, get corporate internet use policy internet-policy.org itbusinessedge.com tmcnet.com/webinar, integrate technology into your business from these telecommunications focused webinars. computerweekly.com/home/webinar.htm, free webinars deal with issues that face small businesses, technology techonline.com/learning/webinar
3gnewsroom.com actnet.com, alliance for converging technologies. aimglobal.org/technologies attbusiness.net blogs.wsj.com/biztech/ blursight.com
brint.com brint.com, business technology management and knowledge management research. btsolutions.net, business technology solutions, raleigh, nc. businesstechnology-asia.com businesstechnologynewsnow.com
businesstechnologyradio.com businessweek.com/technology/ cio.com, business technology leadership. consumerreports.org contextmag.com/archives corporate-ir.net darwinmag.com, helping non-technology business executives understand and master the use of technology in business. duke.com, business technology magazines.
easton.com, lots of links. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/business_technology_management forbes.com/businesstech/ forrester.com gartner.com/btj/static/glossary
geektools.com globetechnology.com gmarketing.com gsmworld.com hardware, hardware inc.com/articles_by_topic/biz_online-do_biz_online hbsp.harvard.edu hp.com, hewlett-packard. hp.com/bizsupport ibt-pep.com, coaching people to work smarter. idc.com, international data corp.
illumiti.com, business technology consulting. inc.com/resources/technology inc.com/resources/technology/columns.html informationweek.com interbiznet.com/ern/archives internetnews.com intervex.com ipmag.com jimcarroll.com
killer-apps.com knowinc.com/saint-onge/learning managed-services-marketing.com mbizcentral.com mbusinessdaily.com metroactive.com/papers microsoft.com microsoft.com, microsoft small business technology. microsoft.com/smallbiz microsoft.com/smallbusiness/resources/technology/small-business-technology.aspx
money.cnn.com/magazines/business2/ mtbt.com, mt business technologies complete office technology solutions. mydigitalhome.ca narrative.com netgear.com, wired and wireless networking solutions for the home, business. nevans.com news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology notifact.com nw.com, network wizards.
oecd.org/subject/e-commerce opensource.org raincitytech.com rational.com redherring.com/insider retailowner.com
rfid.org, radio frequency identification, retail data capture technology. sap.com/solutions/mobilebusiness sbc.com seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/ siibusinessproducts.com, seiko instruments usa inc. verio.com, safeguard your business and protect your critical pc data from loss attbusiness.net simplebusinesstechnology.com
sitestuff.com smallbiztechnology.com spa.org, software publishers assn. superiormeansbusiness.com, business development and technology in the superior area.
tdfund.com, telecommunication development fund's learning center. technology.inc.com technology.inc.com technologymeansbusiness.org.uk technologyreview.com
techtv.com/news techweb.com time.com/time/business tuxedo.org/esr/writings ustelemetry.com ventureone.com vics.org/committees/cpfr, the collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment committee, supply chain management initiatives.
visualware.com wired.com wired.com/wired/archive xbernaut.com zdnet.com technoscout.com 800-992-2966 Many gadgets. Tech Websites/ Tech News/ Computer News computerpress.org, computer press association
faqts.com, tech news arstechnica.com tech.yahoo.com technobuzz.net techpin.com pcnewsdigest.com mobilewhack.com venturebeat.com princeton,edu/ota, office of technology assessment