We all use technology to run our businesses, and some of us love the changes that technology brings. But, for so many others, human behavior often gets the better of us. We get comfortable with what we know and the word “change” begins to cause feelings of frustration, especially when it comes to technology. The most common phrases include: “Didn’t I just upgrade my software a few months ago?” or “Why are they changing? I finally know how to use all the tools.” Sound familiar?
The fact is technology changes and you need to stay on top of the changes. Here are some ways to stay on top of the changes occurring right in front of your eyes and keep yourself from getting overwhelmed.
Create a Technology List
Do you know all the technologies you use for your business? Seems like a simple question, but more often than not many people don’t realize what technologies they are using. Do your own technology audit. Identify all the technologies you use and break the list down by technology type and use. You may want to check your credit card statements to see if you signed up for something you may not be using. Here is peak at my list:
|Google Account||Web / Cloud Account||Manage Google applications like: Analytics, Webmaster, Adwords etc.||Free|
|Basecamp||Cloud Application||Project Management for my entire office and all our clients||Monthly Fee of $xx|
Photoshop CS 5
|Desktop Application||Review and edit design files.||One time license (until the next upgrade)|
Notice my list includes my Google account. I would recommend you add all your social networks and we- based accounts even if they are free. I would also recommend adding your mobile applications to the list. Anything you use for business.
By creating this list, you can evaluate the importance of these applications. Additionally, by identifying the type of technology, you can keep a closer eye on web or cloud-based applications, as these types of applications release changes more frequently.
Follow, Like or Subscribe
No matter what type of application you are running for your business, the vendor most likely has a Twitter, Facebook or Blog that notifies fans and followers with updates. Start by following each of the applications that are the most important to your business. Identify experts that can give you a heads up on what is coming and how it will change your technology choices. Reading SmallBizTechnology.com is a great place to start. I would also recommend finding industry-specific experts. For example, some industries have a need-to-use technology with compliance restrictions or protocols, and industry specialists will be able to give you a heads up in this area.
Monthly and Quarterly Check-ups
Make time each month to review updates on the critical applications and each quarter to review less critical applications or accounts. Become proactive when it comes to technology and build this mentality internally. Most companies have redundancy in their applications, with so many software systems offering extra tools as they grow as well as integration with different systems. You will find staying on top of changes will increase your efficiency and your bottom line. This is an important element in your review process.
If your company engages with an outside firm for IT or web services, you should meet with them quarterly to discuss the changes. Use this as an opportunity to discuss changes, pitfalls, and a way to budget for upcoming quarters.
Don’t Avoid It, Embrace It
You do not have to be a technology expert, but the fact is we all use technology to run our businesses today. To be successful, especially as a small business, we need to stay with or ahead of the curve. This means knowing what technologies you have, and what changes you need to be prepared to implement. Creating a system and having a support staff of internal and external partners will help you get organized and keep you on top of technology changes.