Twenty years ago, established bricks and mortar retailers laughed at the upstart Amazon which had plans to revolutionise our shopping experience using internet technologies. I don’t hear many of them laughing today. Instead, some of the largest goods manufacturers invest heavily to compete for online sales via the biggest internet retailer in the world.
The retail industry was just one of the first to be transformed by technology. Uber revolutionised the taxi cab industry. Furthermore, autonomous vehicles don’t appear to be that far away. Almost certainly, your industry will change in how customer service is delivered and in how businesses operate internally. It is simply a matter of time. It may not be such a dramatic switch from bricks and mortar retail to ecommerce, however businesses in all sectors will change how they operate, even if that change occurs in smaller, incremental steps.
You don’t have to be a leading edge Innovator but you can’t afford to be a sceptical Laggard either. There is much we can learn from businesses which have been ‘born’ in the Cloud. Start-ups in our industries which have no legacy systems have used innovations in technology to both support and facilitate growth.
These ‘digital native’ businesses have lower fixed costs, less need for capital, and are able to scale up or down rapidly. Crucially, they can also react faster to client needs and deliver a superior client service.
We have some direct experience of this here at Ziptech. Our own computing moved to the Cloud some years ago. Consequently, we no longer have those painful meetings where we discuss server upgrades costing tens of thousands of pounds, necessitated by the installation of another application, or a requirement for more disk space, or the impact of hiring a few more staff. Instead, an extra server can be as little as £100 a month and an additional user less than £50 per month.
Moving to the cloud has enabled us to make extensive use of cloud-based collaboration applications – these come free with Microsoft Office 365. This means that our staff work on a much more mobile, client-facing basis, and we have access to a much larger pool of talent as their location is less of an issue.
But when I look at the type of companies embracing digital transformation, there is something far more important than better, faster, cheaper IT infrastructure. They all have a different attitude to technology. They embrace technology as a positive element of their business rather than fearfully edging away from it. It’s an attitude that comes from the top and seems to mark out the winners.