Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Who needs technology? Part one of three

Small Business Administration Awards Luncheon
Computers. Smartphones. Tablets. High-speed Internet. WiFi. These game changers continue to transform the world of business in general, and hold special promise to enable Small Businesses to compete at a level unimaginable even five years ago.

Ironically, as more Small Business owners, operators and employees become more computer- and technology-literate, we are discovering that... nobody is really interested in technology. Seriously: nobody cares. 

Unlike the early days of "the consumer Internet", noone talks about what kind of chip their computer runs on, or how fast it is. People are still using Windows XP, and even the poor souls who got stuck with Windows Vista pre-installed on their PCs have stopped complaining about it. The smallest of Small Businesses are now confidently buying iMacs and Macbooks, and naturally expect to either build their work network with them, or integrate them with whatever systems they already have without too much of an effort.

Tablets have pretty much replaced laptops as the portable computing solution of choice. More people are accessing the Internet using their Smartphones, the "iPhone vs. Android" religious war has subsided to a brokered peaceful co-existence, and it appears even Microsoft finally has a credible threat with it's latest Windows Phone offerings.

iPhone vs Android
iPhone vs Android (Photo credit: nrkbeta)
So it's not that noone cares about technology: it's that the focus is no longer on the technology, but on the benefit of using the technology. Texting isn't just for kids: it's a way to document your informal business communication, followup on one conversation while in a meeting or a conversation with someone else.

Facebook presents opportunities to expose your brand to tens of thousands of people on a shoestring budget, control your company's image and shape its brand message. Twitter enables Small Business to craft real-time marketing campaigns, leverage location-based demographic data and identify the "long tail" sweet spot that makes up its niche market.

Businesses being more "tech savvy" doesn't mean that they now speak like geeks, but that they think like CEOs instead of peddlers. Businesses in all industries, of all sizes, have the power to increase productivity and profitability while actually decreasing the effort and activity required to get things done. Technology provides no magic bullet solutions, which is we see fewer tech pros like myself boasting of "functions and features", and now focusing on "benefits and strategic advantages".

Everybody has an email address. Nearly everyone has a smartphone now (or should!). Small Businesses have become quite tech savvy... but have technology professionals become more business savvy? We'll examine that in part two.

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