With the rate at which digital technology progresses these days, it’s really difficult to keep abreast of the changes. It’s vitally important to plan for technology, though, because you never know when a development creates a loophole that can get you into trouble.
Writing in the MIT Technology Review last month, Vivek Wadhwa, a Corporate Governance Fellow at Stanford University, highlighted the fact that you are no longer allowed to ask prospective employees about religion, sexual preferences, political stance or family planning status.
You can, however, use social media and Internet search to find out whatever you can about their habits and social activities, or check that their work histories on LinkedIn correlate with their bios on Facebook and filter them out that way!
The Digital Technology Trap
The list of ways in which you—or your disparagers—can use technology to circumvent the system is endless. In addition, it can cost you money if you fall behind. The hacking of the Target financial systems in the U.S. and Canada is a prime example; there might not have been actual funds stolen, but you can be sure customers are being a little more careful about using credit and debit cards at Target now. And that very likely means a dramatic drop in online shopping, because credit cards are the only way you can pay. Ergo, loss of sales = loss of revenue/profit!
I don’t mean to suggest that Target was negligent in maintaining its systems, because we all know hackers largely write the code for new methods so there are few protective measure they could have taken. But certainly the older your systems are the more likely you are to be vulnerable, and the slower you will be to respond to a crisis.
Additional Reasons to Stay Current
In addition to the security of your business operations, there are a number of compelling reasons why companies in the 21st century need to stay current with the progress of technology. These include:
#1: Staying relevant
In most organizations, younger employees have an advantage over older ones when it comes to understanding and using technology. Often, the reason is because your older staff have been in one place longer and if the employer hasn’t kept up, then they can hardly be expected to operate at the cutting edge of progress! Be fair to your employees and give them the opportunity to master the latest tools. There’s a strong possibility this will help you to keep them, maintain motivation and loyalty and avoid replacing them with younger staff just to get the skills you need.
Methods of communicating change faster than most other aspects of technology, with new capabilities coming out each year. People are increasingly using digital technology for business interactions. Platforms currently popular for this type of use include:
- Facebook groups
- Google Hangouts
- GoToMeeting / GoToWebinar
Without appropriate software and hardware, plus the security that you need to access the World Wide Web, you’re likely to be stuck with the old multiple-user telephone conference at best.
#3: Connecting with clients
With so many consumers making the shift towards digital methods, a service provider who doesn’t plan for technology and isn’t up to date is likely to be left behind—unless you’re selling cookies and nothing else, that is. Staying current will enable you to connect with your clients on the same media they are accessing, and maintain an image of being on top of new developments. If you’re part of a large organization, it’s vital to do so, and for smaller organizations it’s essential if you want to compete with big companies and win.
It’s clear that keeping abreast of technology requires more than just the ad hoc efforts of your latest intern. You need to implement a strategic approach to make it part of your business strategy. In our next post, we’ll cover how to plan for technology to maximize the benefits of doing so.