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2015-03-16

Leveraging technology for a competitive edge

If there is one thing in common amongst leading businesses across the globe, it is the fact that technology is an integral part of their overall business strategy.

I have always emphasised on the need for startups to clear the Concept of T.E.S.T. and POC to improve their chances of succeeding in the market. In my previous articles, I have already elaborated on three aspects of T.E.S.T., i.e., Team and Execution. In continuation, I’ll be covering ‘Technology’ in today’s post.

There is no doubt that technology will drive the future. Be it our homes, workplace, or any other aspect of our day-to-day lives, technology will rule. In fact, it already does, its scope will expand further.

But what is it that has made technology an indispensable part of our lives? The answer is simple… it simplifies everything we need to do.

It is precisely because of this reason that businesses can benefit tremendously by integrating technology into everything they do, be it Operations, Human Resources, Finance and Accounting, Inventory, MIS, Supply Chain Management or Customer Management. Businesses that leverage technology are inherently more scalable than those that do not leverage technology across various functions.

Technology: An integral part of business

If there is one thing in common amongst leading businesses across the globe, it is the fact that technology is an integral part of their overall business strategy. It has enabled them to consistently derive the maximum value from within and deliver it to customers. It has enabled them to scale up and become the reckoning force that they are, across the globe. Consider names of leading companies across any sector and you will see a strong role of technology in their business strategy. Be it Google, Apple, Accenture, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, Airtel, Vodafone, Microsoft, or Nestle, or even manufacturing companies like Samsung, Bajaj, Honda, etc.

Many entrepreneurs of startups and small businesses, even if aware of the advantages that technology offers, are usually wary of implementing it fearing the cost or inability to allocate people who can make the most of it. But time and again, it is proven that the pros far outweigh the cons and it will add tremendous value to the business in the long run. In fact, startups stand to gain significantly by integrating technology into their operations because their superior performance on various parameters on account of technology itself will act as a barrier for entry for other potential market players.

For a business, technology does much more than making things simpler. Overall, it helps improve the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization multifold across functions, which has a positive impact on its top-line and bottom-line. It ensures better speed and accuracy in operations and enhances the responsiveness towards operational and environment-related challenges.

Gaining a competitive edge

Whether you want to ensure better and faster communication through email, forecast market trends to come up with a winning strategy, track your inventory across multiple warehouses or generate the most complex MIS reports, that can take hours or even days to do manually, technology ensures that you can accomplish all this in a matter of just a few seconds.

Moreover, technology can help cut costs significantly by minimizing the manpower requirement and operational expenses and optimizing productivity. Ultimately, it is a company’s costs and responsiveness tothe dynamic market environment that serve as vital components in getting a competitive edge in the market, and this is where technology can make all the difference.

Technology complements all aspects of a business. While it is not technology alone that gives the business an edge, leveraging it to complement your efforts on all other fronts is what sets you apart and gives you an edge over others in the market. It can help you create a unique identity or value proposition and give you a lead over your competitors. Be it email, VoIP, cloud services, mobile technologies or social media, there are a host of technologies available in the market waiting to be tapped by companies.

The good part is that these technologies are now easily accessible and affordable and some of themcome absolutely free of cost, or at a very affordable cost in the SaaS (Software as a Service) model.

Leveraging the benefits of technology

As is the case with all functions in a business, it is the people within the organization who play a crucial role in leveraging the benefits of technology. Simply adopting technology just because others are doing it will be no good unless people are trained and retrained to use it effectively and optimally to give the business a competitive edge.

However, it is important to note that for a business it is not enough simply to adopt and integrate technology. Since newer and better technologies are emerging faster than ever, making the older ones redundant, it is equally important to identify the relevant ones and implement them sooner than your competitors, to not just ‘get’, but also ‘sustain’ your competitive edge.

The writer of this article is Vikram Upadhyaya. He is the Chief Mentor and Accelerator Evangelist at GHV Accelerator. He is also the Founding Board Member of the Indian Angel Network Incubator and an advisor to projects being undertaken through the Telecom Centres of Excellence (TCOE). The views expressed here are personal.

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