We live in an age when our technology devices are so intuitive that any 3-year-old can download the apps for Pokémon, Lego Duplo World, or their favorite game in 30 seconds on an iPhone.
As professionals, we often wish that the technology we use in our work lives was equally intuitive and user-friendly, especially since some systems come with hefty price tags and long implementation cycles.
And if there is a glitch, we are not talking about Angry Birds but Angry Customers if we cannot get responsive tech support to fix the problem immediately.
However, technology has become a critical component of supply chain management — a necessity, not a “nice to have.” A Gartner survey showed that 61 percent of shippers view technology as a competitive advantage. Companies attribute reduced costs, greater efficiency, and time savings to various technology applications.
The key to making technology a friend and not a foe lies in choosing the right solutions for your business, both in terms of functionality and ease of use.
Here are three tips that will help you choose and manage technology in your business.
1. Keep it simple
Know what you need and utilize systems that will accomplish your goals. If some “bells and whistles” do not meet your needs, evaluate the degree of complexity they add to operating the technology – and any increased pricing for features that do not directly drive ROI. Ease of use is a significant factor in successful technology implementations, so keep that in mind as you evaluate solutions.
2. Kick the tires
Most business technology firms offer demos of their products. Ask for an interactive demo and don’t be bashful. If the demonstrator has shown a feature but not explained how to use it or why you need it, stop the presentation and ask questions. Like buying a new car, technology is a major investment, so be sure to kick the tires before committing your company’s money and resources.
3. Know your choices
It is always good to get input from independent sources when you are narrowing down the vendors and solutions you are considering. Ask your peers if they have used the application.
Or ask for customer references from the company that is promoting its product. If the provider is unwilling or hesitant to share this information, that action speaks volumes about the technology.
Are your technologies streamlining work or adding complexity but not value?
We all agree that our world is becoming more digital every day, and technology can improve our personal and professional lives. But, to turn technology into a friend and not a foe – ask yourself this question: Is my technology making my work more streamlined or more complex?
If the answer is the latter, it might be time to explore other options. And that is the good news – from robotics to toasters, new technologies are becoming available every day. Find one that works for you, not the other way around.
Debra N. Phillips is Manager of Marketing for Emerge. She began her career in transportation in 1989 as Manager of Public Relations for Carolina Freight Carriers. Throughout her career, she has held leadership positions in companies including FedEx Freight, Penske, and MercuryGate. She has a solid track record of competitively positioning products, services, and technologies to enhance reputation and brand, and accelerate revenue growth.