Leveraging Information Technology to Grow Your Business
By now everyone has heard the term “information technology”. Unfortunately for their bottom line there are company owners who can’t understand how IT can help them. The truth is that Information Technology is a powerful tool, and when it is leveraged on your behalf by professionals, it can have surprisingly positive results.
We have all seen the endless commercials on television about how this or that company will host your website, give you a domain name, and take your company into the stratosphere. So, why aren’t we all ridiculously successful yet? Simply put, it takes more than a website and a catchy domain name. To be successful in this global market takes a professional information technology strategy.
IT strategy begins with analysis, and surprisingly enough, when we plan an IT strategy with you we use information technology! Yes, with the IT tools available today, we can analyze your business to hone in on your needs and to craft a strategy based on anywhere from several dozen to several thousand data sets. Analysis is where your IT solution has to start, because if your initial assumptions regarding your business, your product, or your market are off, nothing will help you succeed.
Assuming that you have worked in tandem with a good IT guy and nailed your business needs analysis, we can now move forward to the next steps.
- Choosing the Right Hardware – Not all information technology needs are the same. Therefore, all hardware needs are not the same. Just because you like the shiny look of the new tech gear in your friend’s company doesn’t mean that you should buy the same stuff. As a wise business owner you will want to work with your IT team to understand the kind of information that your business uses. From there you can choose the appropriate hardware. After all, what use does a dressmaker have for an anvil? None! It’s the same with hardware. Some of it will work fantastically for you, and some of it is built for the business down the road. Knowing the difference will save you thousands of dollars.
- Making the Right Decisions Out of the Gate – Decisions are only as good as the accuracy and timeliness of the information on which you base them. The guy that gets the memo to sell all of his stock the day after the market crashes misses the boat and loses his shirt. It is the same with the opening strategic decisions in a company. Using information technology research on things like product choice, development, marketing, and customer acquisition can set you up to make decisions that are both timely and accurate. Having that information before you make your decisions will set you on a solid path to success.
- Getting Marketing Right – Customer acquisition is the name of the game, but the game is much bigger than its name implies. A great company realizes that customer retention is key to longevity. Because of this, companies like yours invest good money researching information about who their customers are, what they feel, what they need, and how they communicate online. This information then produces the template of the “ideal” customer for the business. When you know who your ideal customer is, you can market to them in a way that they will understand. In addition, you will save a ton of money by not marketing in ways that annoy your customers and hurt your brand.
- Managing Growth – Once your marketing has taken hold, and your business has a base of loyal customers, managing growth becomes a necessity. Because you have wisely moved your marketing into an automated IT process, your time is freed up to tackle the challenge of a business that is moving through various growth stages. Again, growth management is best directed by someone who has the necessary information at their fingertips. Yes, things like remote work, video conferencing, and offsite manufacturing are IT solutions that can handle some of the growth pains, but in the end it comes down to managing all of the incoming and outgoing information in a way that allows your company to move ahead. This means wise investment in both hardware, IT professionals, and software solutions.
- Scale – Scaling a business is different than growing a business. Growth is an incremental process and can be managed. Scale however, is the giant step from one level in your business to the next. In the process of making this leap to the next rung on the ladder of business, it is necessary for you to take stock of your IT investment. This means going over your hardware, personnel, software, and process needs with an IT professional. A business can be effectively scaled, but it takes planning and IT implementation to get it right.