June 9, 2014

Don’t Let Fear of Technology Keep Your Business in the Slow Lane

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Guest post from Steve Leavitt, GM of U.S. Cloud Solutions for Exact.

For a lot of small businesses, the idea of implementing new technology is often scary and intimidating. Questions swirl through your mind: Can I afford it? Will it really help me run my business better? Is it difficult to implement? Who will help me if something goes wrong? Do I even need to implement new technology? After all this second-guessing, many of you conclude that you’re better off doing things the way you know best. The slow lane on a highway is often more comfortable.

For many small business owners, implementing “sophisticated” business software and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software simply isn’t an option. It’s too complex and too costly. What many small businesses may not realize, however, is that the business software landscape has shifted significantly in recent years. There’s now technology designed specifically for a businesses of your size that can help you run your operations more efficiently and more profitably.

If you’re one of those businesses on the fence about purchasing business software – or you’re far away from it, you’re not alone. Together with SMB Group, we recently asked small businesses about technology adoption, and the results show widespread reluctance.

According to our survey, seven out of 10 small manufacturers and wholesalers think that ERP (or ERP-like) software is too costly. Because of cost – and for some a lack of clear benefits – only 19 percent of those we surveyed plan to evaluate ERP or ERP-like technologies in the next 12 months. That number is far too low given the potential benefits. But our guess is that the benefits – and the fact that costs are now quite low and implementation far less complex – are still not well known.

Our industry must accept some blame – we need to do a better job educating you as small businesses owners about technology and advances made over the past decade in particular. We must also work harder to demystify concepts such as “cloud computing” so that it’s clear that these technologies make adoption easier and more cost-effective, not harder and more expensive. If you were no longer turned off by cost and complexity, it’s likely that you’d be more receptive to hearing about how technology can streamline quoting and job estimating, sales and purchasing, inventory management, production, customer relations and more. Please, correct us if we are wrong in assuming this!

All these benefits are simply a few clicks away. Businesses, even the smallest business, generate data that can be extremely valuable and lead to higher profitability. What most business software does is organize this data in such a way that it can be made actionable. Simple summary screens about current inventory, for example, can reveal insights that reduce waste and increase profit. Without technology-enabled insights, aging inventory keeps aging (and losing value), inefficient machinery keeps costing you profit and delivery missteps continue to cost you valuable customers. Kind of makes you want to second-guess that decision to stick with what you know best, huh?

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is so common that Verizon now plays off the concept in its commercials. So maybe it’s time for you to replace your fear of technology with FOMO. This is especially true now that the economy is thankfully on an upswing and competition will only increase. The time to capitalize on technology – to not miss out on this newest revolution – is now. The benefits are clear, the costs are reasonable and it’s easier than ever. If you’re not at least taking business software for a test drive, you’d better get ready for doing business in the slow lane.

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc