You don’t have to be a total technophobe to feel reluctant about adopting new technology in your business. Thousands of small- to midsized businesses (SMBs) are either not using or not correctly using new technologies like digital marketing, despite their ability to increase both efficiency and profitability.
But why does this hesitation exist? Is it justified? And if not, what can you do to overcome your own fears of adopting new technology?
The root causes
Let’s start by looking at the four main causes of apprehension when leveraging new technology:
- Perceived expenses. Some business owners don’t want to invest in new technology because they see it as an additional expense that isn’t worth adding. However, this is counterintuitive; most new devices and software are designed to be more efficient, helping you save more money than you spend on them. While this isn’t true for every technology, it’s true enough that you shouldn’t write off a solution just because it costs money to get started. You need to think in terms of ROI rather than the raw amount you’re investing.
- Complacency. It’s hard to believe, but nearly half of all businesses still didn’t have a website as of 2016. Many of these businesses existed before the Internet became popular, thus never saw the need to create one. Complacency is a powerful demotivator; if you’re already used to one way of doing things, you’ll be less incentivized to try something new. However, this isn’t a productive or rational strategy for growing a business.
- Inexperience with new systems. Some entrepreneurs don’t want to mess with a new piece of technology because they don’t have much experience with investing in new tech. They may feel intimidated about doing the research and making a decision, or they may not know where to start. These are legitimate apprehensions, but they can be mitigated by working with someone who’s more experienced than you are.
- Integration and training concerns. Another rational concern is the possibility of training employees on a new software platform. If you have a team of 100 people, and your new tech product has a steep learning curve that takes 10 hours to master, you’ll essentially waste 1,000 hours just getting everyone used to a new piece of technology. However, if you’re making the right choice, the time investment will be worthwhile. And you can always mitigate this by choosing more intuitive, easier-to-learn platforms.
Overcoming your apprehension
So what can you do to overcome your apprehension?
- Do your due diligence. Take the time to read tech news, visit new websites, and see what’s out there. You might be surprised to learn what platforms are available to you. If you find yourself struggling to understand some of the technical details, enlist the help of an IT expert on your team so you can more fully understand them.
- Take advantage of free trials. Regardless of whether or not it’s effective, most SaaS companies and other tech providers are willing to give you a free trial of their products or services, so you might as well take advantage of them. Not only will it give you a chance to evaluate the usefulness of a new piece of technology with no commitment or risk, it will also give you a more hands-on experience, which you can use to make even better tech-related decisions in the future.
- Rely on bottom-line decision making. Don’t make your decision based on what you’re used to or what you’re most comfortable with, and don’t make your decision based on what’s newest or most popular. Instead, try to reduce everything to numbers. How much time could you save by integrating this new piece of tech? How much will it cost, in terms of time and money? Look for a positive ROI; if there is one, there’s no reason not to take the plunge.
- Use a phased approach. Instead of investing in everything at once, consider utilizing a phased approach; switch over half your staff at a time, or focus on one new platform at a time. This will help you get your feet wet in the world of tech adoption and will simultaneously reduce the training and integration burden. This isn’t always possible, since some systems will require your entire team to switch over at the same time, but it’s worth pursuing when it’s available.
The apprehension of incorporating new technology extends beyond any one demographic, and beyond any one business type. Fortunately, learning to recognize your own biases and compensate for them can help you make clearer, more logical decisions – and hopefully enable you take advantage of the technologies that have the power to transform your business.
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