Can Your Technology Infrastructure Handle Your Business Needs?
Throughout my career I’ve worked in multiple fields, from being a machine operator in a factory to managing jewelry stores and now working in the information technology field. Until now, I didn’t truly understand the impact that technology has on business. I mean, we all know it’s important, but how important is it really? During a recent sales team meeting, the President of the company said some things that really got me thinking about everything I’ve done and how much easier it could have been if the tools I used just worked the right way. This brought me to do something I never do; I woke up early and began to write! As you read this, think back to some of the issues you’ve faced at work. I’m positive you can relate most if not all of this.
Technology Is Often the Forgotten (or Unknown) Piece
Running a business is tough and there are so many things on your plate as an owner and leader. You want to make sure everything is ready for success and you put your focus on the most critical areas. Your financials look great, your sales team is killing it, you just hired a new marketing firm that should take your brand to the next level, and your employees are loving their jobs (kudos to your human resources team)! It sounds like everything is set and you are truly built for success, right? The short answer is “sort of.”
While it may sound like this business covered all of the “important” things, one main variable is missing; information technology. Have you taken into consideration how every part of your business relies on your technology infrastructure? Can your infrastructure as it currently exists handle your business needs? We live in a world where IT uptime is crucial, and we depend on technology for just about everything! What happens when your IT doesn’t work?
Company Culture Is Key
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a term we like to use at Ashton Technology Solutions. So let’s start with the last of the four “critical areas” above. Your employees are loving their jobs and being part of your team! I can say from experience that although you may not think of IT as part of the company culture, it is. In my past positions, and with many people I know, one complaint is consistent. “Our technology at work sucks!” There is stress in just about every work environment– that’s just the way it is. Most people overcome the little things and uncontrollable stresses, and power through. IT, for the most part, is not an uncontrollable stress! If your technology doesn’t work, then neither can you.
This is not something you just power through. The downtime causes stress because work is at a standstill. Now you are finding yourself and others playing “catchup” to get your work done. How does this effect company culture? People rush to get the work done and you lose out on quality for time, communication suffers because stressed people tend to shut down rather than open up, and this gets passed down to your customers and clients, leading to negative reviews and costing you money. Having a properly designed and managed IT infrastructure is terribly important in keeping your workforce both happy and efficient.
You Need to Market Your Business
Ok, now that we’ve discussed the culture, let’s talk about your marketing efforts. You might do it yourself, but you might also outsource some (or all) of it. Marketing is definitely important when growing a business and branding yourself. It takes strategic planning and communication to get the right message to your target audience (once you’ve determined who you want to target, and how). If outsourcing your marketing, you need constant communication to ensure that the company you hire truly captures your brand. Now how can IT possibly effect this!? You’ve probably noticed a significant reduction in face to face meetings (and as a sales guy, I really miss those!) and a big increase in digital meetings. I hate to admit it, but digital communication does increase efficiency. At the same time, I still wonder how much more effective my efforts would be, in person.
I think one thing we all learned in 2020 is that a slow internet connection makes for an extremely poor Microsoft Teams (or Zoom, if you must) meeting! I can’t tell you how many times I guessed at what people were trying to say to me. Would you want your marketing firm guessing when it comes to your brand strategies? I doubt it. Whether it’s your digital collaboration tools like Teams and Microsoft Business Voice, or your email and phones, your technology partner can only do so much in terms of getting you a strong internet connection. There are, however, behind the scenes improvements that can be made to your network infrastructure, including switches and firewalls, that will significantly improve your connectivity. The same goes for your emails and phone calls. If you can’t communicate properly with your employees, partners, and vendors, business will suffer.
Selling Is Not The Same As Marketing!
Now for my favorite topic, SALES! Whether you’re running a retail store, manufacturing company, law firm, or any other business, sales are key. You need sales to make money – it’s plain and simple. By this point, I’m sure you can understand a few ways that sales can be affected by a poor IT infrastructure. It’s really no secret that everything I’ve mentioned above plays a significant role in your business. Sales professionals need confidence; not only in their own ability but in the product they’re selling and the resources they have to get the job done. Communication is key, and if you are having trouble communicating with the marketing team, how do you think that’s going to go when talking to a prospect or client? Why would I buy from somebody having so many issues closing the deal?
In my previous role in jewelry sales, I once lost multiple sales of more than $8,000 in a matter of two weeks due to system downtime. I watched my customers leave a different store, smiles on their faces and competitor bags in hand. I spent hours trying to get the job done; I found the perfect piece and built a great relationship, but my systems would not allow me to complete the sale. My competitor swiped the card and closed the sale in minutes. How do you think your salespeople would react? Do you think they would remain fully engaged moving forward? Maybe they’d find a new job with a company that really values technology and knows how to properly design and implement the right infrastructure for your business!
Find A Good Technology Partner
Ok, lets see how this all comes together here. Your financials look great! Well maybe they did before all of this. Now sales are down, people are frustrated, and you probably want a new marketing company because this one just isn’t working out. Now what do you do? First hire better employees who can get the job done faster! You need salespeople who can overcome any obstacle! Let’s get the best marketing firm out there! That all sounds familiar… Well, I have a better solution for you. Take care of your IT. Your employees weren’t the issue and your salespeople would’ve closed the deals. That marketing firm had great ideas, but the lack of communication really ruined the overall outcome.
Again, take care of IT upfront. Make sure you have the proper technology infrastructure to support your business needs. Some companies have the funds to hire the best IT people in house, but most don’t. To be honest, most SMBs (small and mid-sized businesses) don’t need in-house IT. That’s where outsourcing to a managed IT partner can come into play. You get a team of specialists, typically for the same or less than it costs to hire one in house expert. You get a properly designed and managed technology infrastructure and you can focus on what you know best- growing the business. Leave the IT to a company that knows what they’re doing. Like Ashton Technology Solutions.