Every day, we are bombarded with false promises and claims. We receive SMSes about 0% interest loans and masses of spam mail about our Irish lottery winnings worth millions of pounds. It’s no wonder people switch off when they hear about the “next big thing that will change your life”. We all know that, from experience, there are no shortcuts in life – and if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. That said, our naturally honed cynicism and willful avoidance could cause us to miss out on something that could be a real game-changer in our lives.
Whether we like it or not, technology will continue to progress. It’ll be as easy to push back the sea with our hands than to try and fight change. So, why don’t we just accept that change is the only constant and adapt ourselves and our businesses to the changing environment? Sadly, this isn’t the common feeling. For example, Blockbusters was unwilling to acknowledge that a simple change in a business model can make or break an industry within a couple of years. Trends sometimes take a while to catch on, but once they take hold, the laggards are often left so far behind that they have to cut their losses and shut up shop forever.
One trend worth scrutiny is mobility in the workforce. Nowadays, nearly everyone has a phone. In fact, there are currently more mobile devices in South Africa than there are people. Despite this – and strangely – businesses continue to keep records manually. They still send their sales reps out into the field armed with a clipboard and a pen. In the meantime, mobile phones have replaced the need to write out personal notes, to place physical orders, to do banking, to use maps, to keep a contact book and so much more. And yet, interestingly, the mobile phone still has no place in the workplace except to make calls (and usually there is a landline for that anyway). We should be drawing on the technology and its ability to help us in the workplace.
Then we could then move towards the reality of the current buzz phrase: BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Increasingly, businesses are beginning to adopt the trend. Employees are encouraged to use their own smartphones/tablets to conduct normal business activities. This is long overdue because tablets and smartphones are not magical devices. It’s not witchcraft that drives an OS, but technology, or more accurately: dedicated programmers and engineers who are hell bent on designing ways to make your life simpler. Security concerns are also decreasing, despite the massive (“alleged”) iCloud hack, as more and more companies are producing reliable MDM security applications.
People are now starting to realise just how important technological changes in the workplace are. The trends for mobility and BYOD gaining momentum. As people’s initial fear of new technologies gives way to awe, the business landscape is turned upside down by increased efficiencies and a glut of useful information. Orders are processed in half the time, data is now instantly available (and encrypted, of course) which gives both employees and employers the tools to be able to thrive in the digital age.
It is possible to reduce your admin, to cut down turn-around time and to ensure more accuracy when capturing data. Simplifying your sales processes can be a reality. Advanced apps, which are incredibly simple to use, are paving the way. The question is no longer about whether to adopt these new technologies or not but rather whether it’s possible to adopt them in time. Anticipating future trends and adapting to the environment are key tasks for the small business leader – they are not an elusive magician’s trick – and my advice would be to not get lost in the aftermath or there’ll be no magic for you out there.