Technology is overwhelmingly viewed as a positive force for a business but more so for internet-based businesses. After all, online businesses wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for advances in information technology. However, it’s not all rosy. Technology can be detrimental to your internet business and in the worst case, lead to its collapse.
You should regularly review the technological environment your online business runs on so you can better understand the software, hardware and processes that are slowing down your company. Here are some ways technology may be working against your goals
Housing business data in separate compartments and analyzing each data compartment in isolation is one of the biggest dangers to your business’ long-term survival. If the different roles, processes and/or departments of your business are all directly collecting data using different software, storing the data in a non-standardized format, and not sharing this data with one another, you have a data silos problem.
Note that data silos are different from Chinese walls which are usually regulator-ordered rules that prohibit business units within the same corporation from sharing information with one another. Data silos are poor business practice and propagate an inefficient, uncollaborative and an uninformed workforce.
An example of the debilitating nature of silos is a marketing team having no access to the database of leads maintained by the sales team. If the marketing department doesn’t know the status of a prospect, they cannot tailor their marketing campaign with the material needed to close the sale. Your business is constantly generating and storing new data so silos tend to become an even bigger drag on your company the longer you wait to destroy them.
As much as possible, you should have a single system and database that houses all business data. Whenever new data is entered or old data is updated, every department and employee who needs access to this information to perform their work should be able to see it in real time.
Social media is an invaluable tool for every online business. The average internet user spends considerably more time on social media and messaging platforms like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, WeChat, Twitter, Telegram and Snapchat, than they do on other types of sites. This has especially accelerated with the proliferation of smartphones. No internet business can afford to ignore this enormous audience.
But social media and messaging apps can be the very thing that brings your business to a standstill. Your employees, just like everyone else, have the innate need to stay in the social loop. Access to these websites and apps can therefore hamper employee productivity. The natural reaction is to completely ban them. Unfortunately, this can have the unintended consequence of repelling good talent who’ll view your work environment as rigid and stifling.
A more adventurous approach is to allow employees to use social media to share work-related content, interact with customers, market your products and intelligently nip negative sentiment in the bud.
Finally, make sure workloads are spread evenly among your staff. Idleness and boredom can be what drives your employees to passing time on unproductive internet use.
Technology is constantly changing. Systems that were fresh and cutting edge just 5 years ago may be on the brink of obsolescence today. The only way to make sure your business isn’t hamstrung by legacy software is to regularly review and, where necessary, replace your outdated technology before it does irreparable damage to your online business.
Upgrading software may seem like an obvious thing to do but legacy systems will usually creep up on you. You can get so lost in routine that you fail to realize the world passing you by. Legacy software increases your business costs in the long run. The older your systems, the fewer the technical experts who can understand and support it.
You can use automated tools to give you pointers of when one of your systems is no longer as useful as it should be. For example, a server management tool can help you identify problem applications early so you can start exploring replacement options.
Make technology your servant not master. Technology should only be in use for as long as it drives you toward realizing your business goals.