New technology can be daunting, but the cloud has made the process a much easier proposition. Finding the right technology partner can help you maximize the leverage gained from any solution.
There is no question that technology can be intimidating. With time in short supply and often no technology expert on staff, you can find it challenging to prioritize the process of researching and launching solutions. But, just as technology has made it easier for small companies to credibly challenge their larger competitors, it also has simplified the implementation process.
“In the old days, if you wanted to use an application or software program to do something in your company, you had to buy a copy of it, put it on your machine, figure it out, and determine what the updates of it might be,” notes Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “Nowadays, there are a lot of companies out there thinking about getting a solution for your company’s problem, and it’s cloud-based, easy to use, and automatically updated.”
Whether you have back-office or customer-facing needs, you can find a range of solutions that might suit. What it comes down to now is finding the right partner for your implementation needs. There are steps you can take that can help evaluate potential partners before and after you buy.
- Before you purchase. In your initial research, you might look for case studies or examples of how the vendor has incorporated user feedback into technology advances and improvements. Is there a support blog or forum? How quickly does a vendor representative respond to new questions on their website or social spaces? If you see questions that have gone unanswered for an extended time, that’s a red flag.
- After the sale. Track how often the vendor seeks your feedback and what kind of response you get when you request support or offer input. When you contact the support team, pay attention to the level of knowledge displayed by your initial contact (or, conversely, the number of times it’s necessary to escalate your support request to a supervisor).
Look not only for expertise in the vendor’s technology, but also for a baseline understanding of how a business in your industry uses and interacts with the product, adds Jared Freedman, CEO of Code4Software. In fact, your technology vendors should be familiar enough with your business development roadmap to have some sense of how soon you’re likely to outgrow existing technology and to be able to present a plan for scaling the solution to your evolving needs.
Having the right partner, or partners, in place helps take technology considerations off your plate. That leaves you with more time to grow market share and achieve long-term performance targets.
Learn more about Technology as a Competitive Edge.