How to Integrate New Technology and Solutions into Your Existing Structure and Processes
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Digital technology is forcing businesses in every industry to rethink their existing structure and processes. Ecommerce is no exception, with many ways to bring digital technology into the fold. AI chatbots can help ease the workload of your customer service workers, augmented and virtual reality can help customers see what products will look on them or in their homes, and, in the case of Amazon at least, robots can actually deliver the products to customers’ own homes.
While the idea of bringing all this amazing new technology into your business, there are many barriers to successful implementation. Staff who are used to legacy systems can often be fearful of and resistant to change. Training needs to be organized to make sure everyone knows what to do with the new tech. Backend systems can be rigid and involve a lot of time money and effort to overhaul. Finally, incorporating new technology means paying for it, so there are budgetary considerations to take into account.
However, by following a few simple steps, you can easily start bringing these great innovations into your structure and processes.
This is perhaps the most important thing you can do when decided about incorporating new technology into your business. Just because the technology is available, does that necessarily mean you should take it up? With so much technology about, it’s easy to get carried away and start trying to snap it all up. However, you really need to take a breath and consider carefully which technology will best serve your business and, perhaps more importantly, your customers. Consider everything from the perspective of the customer and their experience with your brand. Will incorporating this new technology add value to their experience and help drive deeper customer satisfaction and increased revenue? If the answer is no, then you must consider whether it’s worth the cost and hassle of its introduction, for the sake of it being “cool.”
You also need to sit down with your staff and discuss their work with them. What are their pain points and is the technology you’re considering best placed to solve them? Ask about specific burdens, bottlenecks, and frustrations, and how they impact on the day to day running of the business. Your employees are on the front line with your customers, and they have the data on usage, time spent, and productive feedback. They are also probably your best source of competitive intelligence from a product offering perspective. In short, they have the knowledge and experience with which you can make informed decisions regarding the introduction of new technology. There’s nothing wrong with using social media to float an idea either. Ask your customers whether the innovation is likely to something they’d welcome and whether it addresses a pain point they’ve personally experienced with your brand.
Decide and Plan
Armed with all the information gleaned from the previous steps, you now need to decide which platform best addresses the needs of your business. Factors to consider include the speed at which the platform operates – can it keep up with the day to day running of your business, does it have appropriate levels of security built in – for processing transactions for example, and does it have the ability to scale up, allowing it to grow alongside your business? This list is by no means exhaustive or universal and only you will know what your business needs from a new platform. Once you’ve decided on a platform, you need to get together with your IT people and start preparing your servers to accept the new technology. Run diagnostics and test runs and try everything you can to “break” the new technology. Once you’re happy with how it’s running, you can tweak settings to achieve maximum optimization.
Once you’ve decided a piece of new technology is going to be of benefit to your business the time has come to bring it into play. Only introduce one piece of technology at a time and make sure all your staff are well briefed on its functionality and the ways in which they can deploy it. They need to know both the strengths and limitations of the technology and training in its use. Have a timeline laid out for deployment and disseminate the information to all your teams. If the technology is customer facing – an AI chatbot for example – then promote it well ahead of the launch date. Use your social media channels and newsletters to make sure your customers know about it and what it can do. You could even offer the opportunity for certain valued customers to take part in a trial run or beta test of the technology, with a discount code or some other reward as an incentive for their participation.
Once the technology has been launched and has been in the system for a while you need to essentially return to the first two steps. You need to canvas opinion on how the technology is being received. Are people using it, or are they defaulting back to the original touch points? Have any bugs or issues been discovered? Returning to the thinking and discussion stages ensures you are constantly assessing and reassessing how the technology is working for your customers and/or your business. If the technology is underperforming, consider how you can improve things, and if it’s working well and as expected, then it’s time to start considering the next exciting innovation.