Changing needs in the business realm can be likened to a bullet train that’s leaving the station: if you don’t climb on board, you’ll have missed your chance. By the time the next train comes, you’ll be yesterday’s news.
It’s no longer solely the arena of enterprise, either. SMBs and SMEs today can engage technology like they never have before. For a fraction of what it cost just a short number of years ago, small businesses can leverage the same solutions and insights that put industry leaders on top. From logistics and fulfillment to customer service to real-time business intelligence, it’s there for the asking.
Today, technology fuels just about every aspect of business, from marketing to sales, to office management, to customer service, to communications, to data security, and so on. You would be hard-pressed to cite any job function that is not in some way influenced by technology. To make a go of it in today’s competitive and unstable climate, you need to be agile. To enable your agility, you need technology. For this reason, IT teams have taken on a much more substantial role.
IT is influencing the way we hire as much as the way we work. Employees today must embrace technology whether they want to do so or not. Those that do not run the risk of obsolescence.
In the not-so-distant past, roles were clearly defined, hierarchical structures were firmly established, and when we hired an individual, it was generally for a specific job that required a very specific skillset. People went to school, learned their trade and carried it forward, knowing what their role was going to be for the foreseeable future.
Today, we tend to place value on individuals who possess a broad range of talents across several disciplines. The ability to adapt and learn new processes is not simply a nice-to-have quality, it is part of the job description. Available technology is driving change in ways it would have been hard to imagine just a few years ago, and it’s not showing any signs of leveling off.
In much the same way, IT professionals are becoming more nimble as well. They are having to learn a bit about what everybody else is doing in order to ensure that the technology solutions meet the workplace need. They need to be able to visualize workflows and understand how the business responds and adapts to its competition. They also need to have a firm grasp on what the competition is doing so that they can stay ahead of the innovation curve.
A certain continuity is required to flow between departments, meaning that IT can’t simply be viewed as outsider techie geeks anymore. If anything, they are as valuable and should be as valued as any top-level stakeholder, as they are able to take the company in new and exciting directions simply by virtue of technology solutions enablement.
We depend on the IT team to deliver IT strategy that enables our agility in all of our business activities – that’s the basic equation. In this context, IT is what drives innovation.
Technology has the ability to increase sales through marketing and omnichannel enablement. It can also add value to current product offerings through loyalty programs and personalization, not to mention enhancing product functionality through smart technology and IoT.
IT paves the way for companies to enter new markets, recently evidenced by the transformation of logistical platforms that put the power of Amazon within reach of small business. Technological improvements in the manufacturing stage can reduce the cost of a product, and the list goes on—we haven’t even talked much about data and the role it plays.
Companies are investing in innovation, which means they are investing in technology, which means that they are investing in IT. The position of chief information officer (CIO) is now crucial to many industries, with retail leading the charge. This demonstrates that these companies recognize that innovation happens at the leadership level, but it can’t stop there. Every individual from the executive suite on down needs to be engaged in the process.
The future of IT is now fully aligned with the future of the business itself. What new efficiencies can be deployed to streamline processes? What decisions can be made based on the data we have at our fingertips? The more control we have, the more transparency that exists into all of our daily processes, the more value we can drive back to the bottom line – and all of that hinges on IT and its ability to deliver those insights into our hands.
As for the future of IT and what’s coming down the pike, we can only conjecture. As always, disruption is the realm of the curious.
If you do business in Arkansas and have any questions or comments about how information technology can strengthen business processes, reach out to Business World today or call us toll-free at 501-214-5482 to schedule a free consultation.
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