Don't Know Much About Tech? Don't Panic. Here Are 5 Simple Solutions to Stay Informed and Innovative.
Use these strategies to stay ahead of the tech curve -- and your competition.
Technology is an integral part of the modern business world, yet surprisingly, many C-suite leaders do not fully understand how tech works or why it is so important for their company. If you find yourself in this position, it can be alarming as you see other startups launch to massive success, all powered by tech tools that you know little or nothing about.
You're not alone in this problem, a 2017 survey by Microsoft found that while 84 percent of businesses felt digital disruption would significantly affect their industry, less than half had established a tech strategy.
If you are confused by terms like "big data," "cloud computing," "ERM" or "CRM," you are at serious risk of falling behind the competition. Taking steps to improve your company's approach to tech will go a long way in helping your brand stay relevant and profitable.
1. Create an attractive environment for IT experts.
As with any other business problem, one of the best ways to address your own weaknesses is to hire individuals who make up for them. This is especially true with tech. However, IT professionals are in high demand, which can make it hard to land the best talent.
In an interview with The Ladders, Emily Clapp notes, "Technology is still an emerging field in which the job candidate pool is somewhat limited. Often times these highly skilled candidates are looking to work remotely and usually require extensive new technology to do their job well."
She continues, "If your company does not fit the needs of a tech candidate, that person can fairly easily find a company that does … Companies in demand of highly skilled talent can shape their company culture to be more flexible and offer the appropriate resources to get the job done."
Providing the right environment and benefits will increase your ability to land top tech talent.
2. Become fluent in basic technology.
You don't have to become an expert in tech to run your business. But you should have a basic understanding of key concepts and trends so that it doesn't feel like you're trying to speak a foreign language when conversing with your IT team.
In an article published for Human Resource Executive, Stacey Philpott explains, "You need to understand the definitions and the technology and what is happening — What does AI mean? What is blockchain? What is the difference between augmented and virtual reality? — so that people feel more confident and comfortable."
By gaining at least a basic understanding of trends and terms, you can help your company pivot more quickly and respond appropriately to new digital disruptions.
3. Know the threats of not keeping up with tech.
Though it is important to understand the opportunities available through technology, a failure to understand what threats are out there could prove even more catastrophic to your business.
Data breaches, ransomware attacks and other threats can compromise confidential information and result in significant financial losses. As such, C-suite leaders must understand the basic protocols that should be in place to prevent such attacks.
In a blog post by Ashley Leonard, president and CEO of Cloud Management Suite, he explained, "Firewalls and safe email policies can prevent many attacks, but hackers can just as easily gain access to your information through un-patched, out-of-date software. Each of your software tools should be updated regularly to mitigate potential risks. Patch deployment tools can ensure that no update slips through the cracks."
4. Create a forward-thinking strategy.
Digital disruption has been labeled by many as a modern-day industrial revolution. However, many businesses remain focused on the short-term, almost as if they were treating tech trends as a momentary fad.
What's contributing to this problem? A joint study between Forbes and Deloitte found that 43 percent of businesses "lack internal alignment about which strategies to follow," while 38 percent cited a "lack of collaboration with external partners" as holding them back from technology investments.
Addressing these two major roadblocks should be a top priority in devising a forward-thinking business strategy. C-suite leaders must get their entire executive board to understand tech's importance, while also evaluating potential partners who can streamline the transition to a more tech-oriented business. The right third-party software platform could make all the difference in assuring a successful company-wide change.
5. Recognize that tech has a place in the C-suite.
One of the most important things business leaders who don't know about tech can do is ensure that tech finds a place in the C-suite. A 2018 study by Deloitte found that "almost half of IT leaders drive technology adoption activities in their organizations … IT leaders play a key role in a business's ability to remain competitive in a technologically driven economy."
Current C-suite members should evaluate the needs of their companies and make sure that tech has a place at the table. A chief information officer or chief technology officer will bring the skills, insights and expertise needed to lead out on crucial IT decisions.
While this doesn't minimize your personal responsibilities in learning more about tech, having an IT expert involved in the highest stages of your company's decision-making processes will help you make better-informed decisions.
You may not be able to learn everything there is to know about tech and how it will affect your business. This doesn't have to serve as a major stumbling block for your brand. By learning some of the basics and enlisting the help of those with more experience in this area, you can make better business decisions for keeping your company up to date in the modern business world.
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