Whether your firm is struggling with CRM, rolling out DEFI payment solutions or exploring new employee-engagement software, small- and mid-sized business owners need to stay on top of the latest technology trends in order to stay ahead of the competition, retain talent and meet clients’ expectations.
The fast pace of change makes keeping up a challenge for any CEO, especially those not in the tech space. But this essential knowledge offers benefits beyond water cooler chatter: it can help the business save on costs, improve automation and create new opportunities for growth.
Here are five tips to help you get ahead—and stay ahead—of the curve.
1. Talk to your internal stakeholders.
Even if you trust your tech person or team and feel confident that they can keep your company on the cutting edge, be sure to be part of the conversation. As confusing as some of today’s buzzwords may be—from extended reality to cybersecurity mesh—things will only get more complicated as time goes by.
But keeping up with the tech landscape requires more than a two-way dialogue between the CEO and the tech team. CEOs should involve many stakeholders in tech conversations, soliciting feedback and asking plenty of questions. Don’t have a tech department? Consider establishing a technology task force to spearhead internal discussions and fact-finding.
2. Consume the news.
There are plenty of publications that can help you keep up with the changing tech landscape. You’ve probably heard of the biggest ones like Wired, TechCrunch or Recode, started by columnist Kara Swisher. But there are many others, including more niche tech blogs. These blogs and newsletters provide a comprehensible read without inducing tech overload. Keeping tabs on these pubs will help you speak the language of tech like a pro.
3. Reach out to your clients and peers.
Find out what technology changes your clients are implementing so you can keep up with their needs. If they have switched to Salesforce cloud-based software, for example, ask them why and how it is helping their business. Connect with your peers and others in the industry as well. Industry associations are another good resource; oftentimes, they have technology working groups, research and best practices that they gather from their members.
These conversations may lead you to a discussion with your own team about whether an internal upgrade will provide benefits. Communicating with clients and peers about what they’re doing differently may bring knowledge and even increased business opportunities.
4. Find a mentor.
Sure, you’re the CEO. You’re supposed to know it all. But sometimes, even a master of the universe needs a little help. So, find a mentor who can fill in the gaps in your tech knowledge base. It could be the CIO of your company who’s on your speed dial for an emergency briefing. There might be another colleague or even a family friend that has impressed you with their understanding of the tech universe.
There are tech groups, meetups and communities online, as well as alumni associations and professional networks where business people can connect. Finding someone in your industry sector makes the most sense.
5. Make an action plan.
Once you feel a little more comfortable with your understanding, put a plan into action. Start with listening sessions with different stakeholders throughout the company. Taking the whole company on this journey is the best way to make it successful. Talk to your employees and find out where the technology gaps are and what solutions might exist. Then have your technology task force draft a blueprint for the next steps. They might recommend hiring a new expert, replacing a communications tool or setting up demos with a handful of software vendors.
Here’s the bottom line: There has never been a more critical time to become tech-savvy. It’s one area that is just too important for business owners to leave entirely to others. A company that doesn’t keep up with the changing landscape could soon be left behind.