Tech is not one size fits all
If there’s one thing we can be sure of, nearly 20 years into the new millennium, it’s that tech has changed our world, and will drive more and more change, long into the future. This applies at both personal and corporate levels: it’s hard to think of any sector, or any organisation, that does not need a comprehensive strategy for tech in the modern world in order to survive and thrive.
To maximise benefits, businesses need a technology infrastructure that is flexible and future-proof, because technological changes happen fast and frequently. Consider payments, for example. In 2017, card payments overtook cash for the first time, and in the same year the frequency of contactless payments almost doubled. With the UK fast becoming a cashless society, businesses now simply cannot survive without the technological infrastructure to support cashless payments or donations . In a similar way, organisations have been aware for some time that giving customers and clients an effective (and ideally, personalised) omni-channel experience can drive success. But now, even that is not enough. The focus on big data and analytics has extended into the customer experience – now, businesses should use finely differentiated elements of these, such as geospatial analytics, to optimise their omni-channel experience and gain a commercial edge.
High tech requirements Luxury retail is a prime example; for example, high-end shoes or clothes. With a high-profile brand, a company’s customers vary as much as its designs. So, a luxury retailer’s multi-channel technology, as well as its marketing and social media presence, must work as well for those who buy multiple times a year as it does for those who buy that ‘once in a lifetime’ pair of shoes, or outfit, for their wedding or a milestone birthday.
As technology becomes ubiquitous and our use of it ever more honed, it becomes clear that there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to tech. Yes, there are certain elements that every organisation needs, not least of which are connectivity, an IT infrastructure and strategy. But in an increasingly specialised and personalised world, the real advantages come from having exactly the infrastructure, strategy and provision that you need, both now and for the future. This can be challenging and daunting — unless you get the right expertise on board.
From fast response to fast food For St John Ambulance, connectivity can make the difference between life and death, and that’s something they share with the healthcare sector more generally. Yet even here there are differences. St John Ambulance uses its connectivity in emergency response, training, communications and education, as well as general business infrastructure. In contrast, a large teaching hospital may need much less in the way of client-facing tech, but much more in terms of artificial intelligence (AI) or augmented reality (AR), for training purposes and data analysis.
Meanwhile, food and other large chains are putting tech to good use internally, providing communications systems that enhance staff retention by making working life easier and more straightforward, letting staff book leave easily and offering them promotions and discounts directly to their desktop or other device.
Build for the future, today Every advance in our use of technology takes us closer to yet more initiatives and innovations, and no-one knows just what potential the future holds.
To take advantage of new and forthcoming technologies, organisations must build flexible and future-proof infrastructures that will be equipped to deal with them — now. Wait until those innovations arrive, and it will be too late. Early adopters will have stolen the prizes – the clients and the profits.
It’s not easy to integrate all elements of a business into a comprehensive strategy for non-IT experts, or for those who don’t have extensive internal support. There are gains to be made and pitfalls to be avoided, before even beginning to consider an IT infrastructure that can deal with future business growth and new technologies. That’s why it’s important for businesses to have the right expertise, so that they can do much more than just cope with current business needs and scale them.
For businesses that don’t have sufficient in-house support, external IT experts can help organisations make sensible long-term infrastructure provisions, with enough capacity to adapt to new and evolving technologies. This will help businesses gain and maintain a competitive edge in the market – whether they’re selling shoes and luxury goods, providing healthcare support or making food.
Tech is not one-size-fits-all. It’s important that businesses tailor their IT accordingly – whilst understanding that the underlying, more uniform elements (connectivity, expertise, infrastructure) are of equal importance to IT personalisation.