Rapidly changing technology has become one of the most extreme sources of pressure on today's business leaders. But, to compete in modern business, you must keep up. To get the full benefits from the technology you currently have, and to stay informed about innovations so that you can make timely and educated future buying decisions, you must maintain awareness of upgrades and new technologies.
The challenge is to keep up with changing technology as systematically and as simply as possible. Fortunately, doing so can be accomplished with resources to which you already have easy access. Below are some simple methods for efficiently integrating technology awareness into your company. After you have a system in place, the time used to keep updated on the technology changes you need to stay out ahead of in your market will amount to a very small fraction of the value to your business of that time investment.
Determine Your Company's Needs
You need technology to meet legal compliance and other requirements. You need technology to accomplish objectives for strong internal controls. You capture big data through investing in powerful technology on an continual basis. Your business increasingly functions across a CRM. Even many, most, or perhaps all of your most basic company facilities may be controlled through high-tech systems.
Complicating the challenge of keeping on top of changes that can help or hinder your forward motion toward primary business goals are the ever-expanding menu of technology options, ever-multiplying innovations in software-as-a-service (SaaS) options, and even infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), and other cloud-based hosting alternatives. And, of course, there are the ever-increasing numbers of ever-more imaginative cyber-security threats.
Evaluate Your Resources
Recognize the many resources available to you, and rank them in terms of their order of relevance to your needs. These include ordinary sources: websites, TV tech programs, newspapers, trade magazines, books, formal training courses, online videos, professional associates, knowledgeable personal acquaintances, and so on.
As with any research process, you will tap some resources just once. And, others you’ll keep for future reference. If you implement a strategy of making your technology education a small part of your daily or weekly routine, you should find that it takes only a few minutes per day on average to maintain robust technology awareness.
Commit Top Management to Technology Awareness
Embracing new ways of working in the digital era must start at the top. Management must establish a leadership development programs that equip company executives with the knowledge and perspectives that the company needs for growth by taking advantage of the accelerating technological innovations of the digital age.
- Top executives should participate in programs that enable them to develop digital action plans for the company.
- The executives should cultivate modeling of behaviors to help their teams embrace:
- Readiness to experiment
- Openness to intra- and inter-company educational partnering
- Permitting more autonomous teams.
- Such awareness-building cultivates top-management role-models of embracing ongoing technological change.
- Realize the new paradigm for employees, suppliers, and agents, by frequently testing and using new digital platforms yourself (such as Facebook posts, Instagram narratives, video, and others).
- Familiarize yourself with SEO, e-commerce technologies, and other distribution vehicles to gain deeper insights into consumer habits that drive sales in your own and other markets.
- Employ user data research and other powerful new tools (like journey mapping, social media listening, etc.) to actively guide digital transformation.
Invest in Continuous Team Learning
Digital transformation is about more than the technology. It's also about the way management communicates with employees, organizes, and upskills them. These are the fundamental activities a company must manage well, in order to benefit in the new environment of perpetual technology turnover.
With the increasing rate of technology changes across the business sector, continual learning must now be integrated into work routines across every organization, including those that aren’t “technology” companies.
- Invest in frequent, regularly scheduled staff upskilling activities, presented in formats that align with the otherwise increasing demands on their time.
- Target skills should include those most practical in individual markets, for example digital media allocation, search engine optimization, social platforms, digital analytics, etc..
- Employ incentives, game-style learning models, leadership communications, and other motivational campaigns to drive your company's completion rate of upskilling programs.
Go Farther to Foster Employees' Agility
Technologies and consumer demands are changing faster than classic business plans can make teams ready to meet. Team agility is the test of company potential for success in digital transformations. Employees must be empowered and prepared to move at the constantly brisk pace.
The best way to drive this shift is to establish a set of tangible day-to-day activities and behaviors that enable employees to act quickly. Constant monitoring of digital assets, seven days per week, is advised, including on owned sites, social media channels, and customer sites. Implementing live dashboards and increasing report frequency can help teams stay up to the moment on shifts in consumer activity and behavior.
Invest in Design of “Employee Experience”
One example of ways companies can enhance teams' performance in keeping pace is some leading US companies' application of lessons learned through user experience initiatives, to reorganize their management of employees’ experience. This forward-thinking approach is directed toward more effectively attracting and keeping critical talent. To succeed, this concept necessarily involves embracing more openness and permitting greater fluidity of work models for employees, many of whose roles are evolving.
Companies employing such initiatives to better understanding employee motivations are using progressive tools such as user research, journey maps, and persona development. The goal is to transform employees' experience of their time with the company along their major employment milestones.
And, initiatives such as job shadowing programs are used to increase employees' understanding of the company, by virtue of more deeply understanding the roles fulfilled throughout it. And, the program also enables increased employee mobility across the board. Both are critical assets in a technologically fluid business environment, in which organizational structures are frequently changing.
Data Security Changes in Financial Data Management
One strong example of department-specific pressures to rapidly confront and adapt to oncoming sweeps in technological requirements is the new data security changes CFOs are currently facing. This is, of course, in addition to the number and scope of existing technologies that the financial function must manage with ideal efficiency.
The entire financial accounting department should have IT skills in keeping with the demands of employees' roles, for example, skills such as Access database configurations, Excel macros, enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, data-mining tools, business intelligence applications like Oracle Hyperion and IBM Cognos, as well as software for general accounting, such as Intuit QuickBooks, data security platforms, Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation, among others.
Recommended processes for this department, to mitigate risks and maximize benefits of keeping company knowledge ahead of changes in technology are as below. These can be adapted and more broadly adopted across company departments with very different functions yet similar needs for maintaining control of timely upgrades and replacements of digital systems, including:
- Recruit financial team members with strong knowledge of technology.
- Encourage interaction between IT staff and trusted outside technology experts.
- Understand what technologies do, in terms of how they affect the business's financial functions and its operations overall.
- Stay informed about new technology options.
- Stay closely connected with your internal IT team and outside SMEs to maintain ongoing evaluation of technology-related issues and risks (which can emerge quickly).
- Run RSS feeds that publish frequent software updates.
- Join technology user groups, and participate in discussions of problems and solutions with particular technologies.
- Collaborate with other CFOs at companies that use identical technologies. They are sometime more versed in user issues that are the vendors.
If you have questions about your financial data management and are interested in outsourced accounting, contact us today for more information!