As long as technology has been evolving, companies have been trying to keep up. But it was the Covid-19 pandemic that forced businesses of all sizes across all industries to shift to remote operations virtually overnight. Many employees are still working remotely, and quite a few plan to keep it that way.
According to a May 2021 Gallup poll, 52% of the entire labor force works remotely, with numbers higher than 80% in many industries. A stunning 35% of all workers want to stay remote long-term, rising to more than 50% in several fields.
When the pandemic hit, everyone was forced to scramble, doing the best they could with whatever technology they already had or could swiftly implement. This caused a fundamental shift in how we work, and companies have had to take a hard look at their business strategies. Business and technology are now inextricably linked, so it only makes sense to implement technology as a core part of a successful business strategy.
What is technology as a business strategy?
Technology as a business strategy refers to the concept of implementing technology in all levels of your business plan. Rather than putting technology in its own silo under the direction of the company’s chief technical officer (CTO) or chief information officer (CIO), it becomes a core component in all aspects of business operations.
Depending on the nature of your company, technology as a business strategy can generally be split into three core categories:
- Protection. Cyber hacks have become a common threat against companies of all sizes. Implementing technology as a core business strategy helps you direct resources toward security upgrades and training, as well as disaster planning and recovery. It allows you to develop security strategies for employees at all levels, across every department.
- Enhancement. With a largely remote workforce and a user base that became accustomed to shopping online during the pandemic, technology is more important than ever. Technology as a business strategy lets you plan for key rollouts that improve the experience for both employees and customers.
- Innovation. Unfortunately, even companies that have implemented tech tools for cybersecurity and enhanced operations are not taking advantage of in-house innovation. Carving out innovation periods every week, month or quarter lets your tech professionals both tinker with your existing tools and examine new options to provide the most-comprehensive solutions for your business.
Who’s doing it and why?
As you might expect, tech companies are leading the way in exploring the advantages of technology within their own business models. For example, at Slack, we are continually iterating on our IT and business technology tools.
Even as we strive to give our employees and customers the best possible experiences, we look at ways to improve how we scale, evolve with our users, and expand our areas of operational focus. To meet emerging needs, an internal tool called Slack on Slack helps us quickly build new bots, apps and other solutions within the platform.
But technology as a business strategy isn’t limited solely to tech companies. Whether you’re in manufacturing or customer service, technology is likely already part of your business. Implementing it as a core business strategy builds on what you’re already doing to streamline operations, add flexibility and rapidly adapt to changing circumstances (like a pandemic suddenly shutting down the globe).
5 advantages to putting technology in your business strategy
Adding technology to your business strategy can pay off for your company in a big way. Here are five major advantages of adopting technology as a business strategy.
1. Choose targeted technology solutions
The rapid evolution of technology has led to a seemingly endless number of products and solutions on the market. In a siloed company that walls off the IT department, team members have to make decisions based on relatively limited information. And each decision may solve only a single problem.
When you implement technology as a business strategy, you can make technology choices from a broader perspective. You know what you are trying to do, you have data to drive your decisions and you can look for solutions that meet multiple needs all at once. With time to iterate, you can also take advantage of the advanced capabilities of a platform like Slack, building customized solutions rather than grabbing yet another product to solve a specific issue.
2. Boost organizational productivity
You probably already know that technology can help drive productivity by providing you with data on sales figures, ROI and other crucial information. But did you know that technology can also help increase productivity at the individual level? From bots that automatically send reminders about overdue tasks to apps that offer visual data on a project’s progress, implementing technology across all parts of your organization can help everyone perform their best.
3. Enhance collaboration
This is especially important with so many people working remotely. Platforms such as Slack and Zoom help everyone move forward in the same direction and ensure important tasks don’t get overlooked.
But technology as a business strategy also helps with customer collaboration. Consumers grew more comfortable with online shopping during the pandemic. Now is a great time to start using tools to more closely mirror the in-person shopping experience. From product videos to bots that serve as shopping assistants to real-time collaboration between designers and customers, technology can help your online shoppers feel important.
4. Set long-term goals and objectives
A solid business plan should include a series of short-, medium- and long-term goals, along with a road map for achieving them. But your technology plans may be more ad hoc right now, picking and choosing solutions when problems arise. Adding technology as a business strategy lets you scale your technology along with your business, anticipating needs and implementing strategies ahead of time.
5. Improve security
Today’s cyber attackers are more sophisticated than ever, and an old-fashioned security posture that relies solely on firewalls and antivirus software is no longer sufficient. Making technology a core part of your business strategy adds cybersecurity tools and training throughout your organization. Frontline workers and the C-suite alike are all informed about emerging threats and receive both the tools and the ongoing training they need to counter those threats.
The pandemic accelerated everything from online grocery shopping to telemedicine in ways we could never have imagined. With customers now shopping online and a great deal of the workforce planning to continue working remotely, now is the time to prioritize technology throughout your organization. Rather than a siloed IT department, consider implementing technology as a core business strategy that runs throughout your organization.