What does technology mean to you?

16.05.2018

If tech is still a business cost, you are out of touch, insists Andrew Spence, Solutions Consulting Director, Sage

No one can deny the impact upstart companies such as Uber, Airbnb, even Amazon (and in upstart terms that is ancient) have transformed and disrupted business models with technology. But the fact is, these companies are not just using tech, they are – and claim to be – technology companies. And that is a model that ‘traditional’ businesses need to recognise and embrace.

These organisations would never consider a technology investment as a business cost – it is always a business enabler. Even if it doesn’t work, it is about trying ideas, exploring possibilities and leveraging innovation in a bid to improve the customer experience and drive up revenue.

That vision may seem a world away for a CFO struggling with a lack of trusted data; a CFO still wrestling with spreadsheets in a bid to create insight from multiple disparate systems. But it isn’t a world away – it is a business imperative.

Today’s technology model, with its subscription based cloud solutions and the removal of on-premise IT investment has eradicated the barriers to investment. Furthermore, best practice methodologies are transforming implementation timelines. There are many ‘business as usual’ processes that offer no differentiation – and simply need to be done well and efficiently. Leveraging standard, out of the box, software systems and best practice deployment for these well understood business processes, such as procure to pay, is incredibly effective – freeing up time and resources to focus on those specific areas that are a company’s differential.

Even so, organisations can often struggle to make the business case for new technology – especially in comparison to investments in plant and equipment, which promise an easily quantifiable improvement in productivity. As a result, too many IT business cases are predicated on cost cutting; but if organisations are to successfully move towards technology as a business enabler, the investment has to take a different approach.

How can technology improve performance? What are the opportunities to be more competitive? Can we explore new markets? Deliver better customer service? Expand the product portfolio? Improve agility? The challenge is to understand how and where technology can enable these improvements – and that is where companies need to find the right help and support.

Take the opportunity to explore the way trusted data insight supports essential business change – one company that decided to analyse purchases as well as sales by geography identified not only a strong customer base in the Midlands, but also a high number of purchases in the same area. As a result, the company decided to trial a warehouse in the Midlands close to its largest customer – a move that cut transport costs by two thirds, reduced lead times and improved customer experience. Simple, but transformative.