To say that technology has been important to business survival in recent years is certainly an understatement. In 2020, 70% of United States employees worked remotely, teams and customers relied on virtual tools to communicate, and a dispersed workforce led to additional concerns about cybersecurity. The result has been not only an increased use of technology, but also a heightened awareness of its role in driving strategic growth – and a long-overdue need for business leaders and executives to add strategic IT experts to their roster of trusted advisors.
From early in the pandemic, technology was inextricably linked to business success; in a world of physical disconnection, there was no longer a choice when it came to digital transformation. The truth, though, is that technology has been influencing the way we do business for decades. Consider the most mission-critical processes in your company; chances are every single one of them involves technology. From client onboarding and team communication to record-keeping and strategic planning, tech is not simply a part of your business – it is the foundation upon which it is built; an essential part of optimizing productivity; and the glue that holds teams, organizations, and customers together regardless of how or where they’re working. As you look towards resurgence and growth, you should be treating your tech just as you do any other foundational pillar – with strategic thoughtfulness and the expert input of business-minded advisors.
Making the Right Business Decisions About Technology: Four Key Considerations
While the importance of technology is more apparent than ever now, the ideal implementation of it within your business may not be so clear. With so many tools, vendors, and applications to choose from, finding the right ones for your company requires not only a willingness to embrace innovation but also the ability to marry technology to overarching business goals. When you do, technology becomes a competitive advantage that lets you work smarter, faster, and more productively: at companies that prioritize making tech highly accessible to their teams, employees spend 17% less time on manual processes, collaborate 16% more often, and make decisions 16% faster. As you consider how to make the right technology choices for your company, here are four key factors to consider:
Leaders have long known that cybersecurity was a necessary element of their IT support; organizations must have good cyber hygiene, or they could suffer loss of data, money, and reputation. Recently, however, a spike in cyber-attacks has begun to create a heightened awareness of the breadth of cybersecurity – so much so that the Department of Homeland Security recently launched a web page dedicated exclusively to addressing the challenges of increased cyber-threats. Cybersecurity efforts should go much deeper than firewalls and antivirus software; they should be built from a deep view of your entire environment to make sure you are accounting for security in every possible way. How far back should your backups go? Too far and you risk an outdated recovery point. Not far enough and you could lose a swath of critical data in one fell swoop. Is every employee trained in how to spot potential cyber threats? If not, they could easily and unknowingly compromise your company’s security. How many offices does your business have? How many remote employees? How do they need to communicate, and how sensitive is the information they’ll be sharing? All of these questions – and many more – should be at the forefront of your conversations with your technology advisors.
2. Data analytics
Data is the bread and butter of any company. It tells you who your customers are, how your team is functioning, your profit margins, your inefficiencies, the list is practically endless. As your company pursues overall growth goals, there is perhaps no more impactful IT consideration than data analytics. A consumer population that just spent a year and a half reassessing and reprioritizing is already proving unpredictable, and the deeper level of understanding that data analytics can provide will be crucial to ensuring you are addressing what may be brand new pain points – and winning their business. A skilled technology advisor can help you pinpoint the data that will drive your business goals and deliver it to you in a way that helps you make more informed business decisions more quickly. For our clients, we create custom dashboards to relay data about both their company and their industry at large, giving them a multi-layered analytical view of their business that helps them make research-backed decisions that directly drive revenue, productivity, and growth.
Automation can have a huge impact on labor and cost by allowing staff to devote their time and focus to the most complex tasks. In some cases, it can even eliminate the need for additional roles. With a record-high number of businesses reporting trouble hiring right now, this is critical to streamlining operations and progressing toward business goals with fewer staff. The idea of automation is nothing new for executives; it’s likely been discussed among their leadership team for years. What many may not realize, however, is how much it has evolved – and how cost-effective it has become – since those discussions began. The automation tools that used to require expensive, custom development are now simple enough for employees to build them with fairly minimal guidance. It’s estimated that nearly half of all work tasks can be automated by current technology, so working with your advisors to identify opportunities to automate can have a huge impact on your company’s efficiency – and bottom line.
4. Strategic IT consulting
As a business owner, you shouldn’t have to try to keep up with the rapid pace of changes in technology – and with so many other responsibilities on your plate, chances are you couldn’t even if you did try. Your IT team should be more than providers, they should be strategic and holistic advisors in the same way your accounting, financial, and legal advisors are. That means not only keeping you informed about the changing tech landscape, but also helping you connect IT solutions to your overarching business goals by talking to about your company, not just your technology. Do you have plans to expand? What type of growth do you anticipate in your products or services? What are your business goals over the next 12 months? What is your current market share and who are your competitors? What do you wish you were doing better? These are the meaningful, goal-based conversations your IT advisors should be leading to make sure your technology isn’t just working in the background of your business but is actively and strategically driving it forward.
Your Tech is Your Advantage
When you treat technology as a standalone concern – or worse yet, an afterthought – you miss out on the opportunity to leverage it as a major competitive advantage. The technology your company relies on isn’t just about new tools or security or even remote environments; it’s about all of these things working in tandem to move your business forward – not just toward safe and seamless tech, but towards your larger goals for revenue and growth.
About Anders CPAs + Advisors
For 55 years, Anders has delivered full-service accounting, tax, audit and advisory services to growth-oriented companies, organizations, and individuals. For 26 years, the Anders Technology team has helped businesses across all industries leverage technology to innovate, transform, and improve their bottom lines. Guided by an experienced team of advisors, Anders Technology is a Microsoft Gold Partner, the highest level in the Microsoft Partner Network. For more information on Anders, visit anderscpa.com and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram: @AndersCPA.
About Julia Deien, Microsoft Certified Professional
As a solutions architect and Microsoft Certified Professional, Julia helps organizations achieve their growth by matching technology solutions to business goals. This happens through collaborating with clients and analyzing their technology needs and business processes. Using her expertise in the Microsoft cloud platform and industry knowledge, she consults, designs, and implements technology strategies to help Anders clients not only understand their business’ technology, but maximize its full power.
About Jason Gotway, VSP5, VMTSP, VCP550
Jason is a solutions architect and team lead with over 10 years of experience in technology and cybersecurity. Using his knowledge of methods used by cybersecurity hackers, Jason educates companies and individuals on best practices for staying safe in all things cyber and implementing efforts to avoid cybercrime. He works with businesses to develop customized cybersecurity strategies to keep their company and employees safe and productive, whether they work in-office or remotely.