In today’s market, the latest technology solutions and services are available to small and medium businesses – once only available only for multi-million dollar companies. The most competent IT consulting firms have years of experience, certified network engineers and technicians, and strategic partnerships that allow them to deliver the best IT solutions for your business.
Two technology solutions with the highest demand are: disaster recovery and network support.
If you are a business owner, or if you run someone else’s business, you know that your company’s data is critical to your success, but it also serves as a competitive advantage to compete in your industry. In today’s fast paced world, it does not suffice to have access to your data from your office. Rather, most businesses require access to these data via mobile devices, apps, or the cloud. What would happen if there is an emergency if you data are lost or cannot be retrieved for an extended period of time?
That is what disaster recovery is about – protecting your data in case of an emergency or retrieving it after a natural or human-induced disaster. Honestly, it is always better to invest in a proven solution because in the long run it is much more affordable and you have peace of mind your business will not go bankrupt due to an IT system failure. For example, in 2008, a study by Gartner Group concluded that 78 percent of businesses went bankrupt within one year after suffering a system failure that lasted more than 48 hours.
Technology effectiveness is never guaranteed 100% by technology service providers — everyone knows it will break at some point. Therefore, to avoid a system downtime business owners and managers can designate an employee or an IT firm to monitor their network. Today’s IT service providers are highly sophisticated and can provide network support and maintenance 24×7 so you can sleep well at night.
Beware that some firms may attempt to confound you with buzzwords that you do not understand to sell you higher services that may not be needed. In most occasions, feel free to request a FREE onsite consultation by a certified engineer to gauge their technical capacity and make a more informed decision. In fact, most technology solutions providers will take the time to understand your business needs and goals in order to tailor a solution that delivers and exceeds your expectations. The goal is to allow you to focus on your core business, not your technology.
There are two types of business owners who consider technology differently:
Type I – “The Gadget Person”
This type of owner embraces technology at most levels. They are considered “early adopters” from a technology point of view. The gadget guys were the first ones to get a Palm Pilot in 1995 and loaded all their contacts on the device. They were excited to set appointments and have electronic reminders beep all day long.
Type II – “Just make it work”
This type of owner proudly proclaims that they know very little to nothing about technology and are content to leave it that way. They were wary of email at first, but have come to rely on it quite a bit.
Both types are passionate about their business and could benefit from strategic application of the right technology solutions.
Understand Your Process
Coupled with technology is “process.” Process is defined as steps required to manufacture your products or the means to provide your services. A clean and efficient process is the key to applying any technology solution successfully. The wrong, or inefficient process, will lead you to spend $100k on an unnecessary system. The efficient process will save you money when implementing technology and should increase your profits. It is vitally important for your business that you examine all your processes BEFORE implementing any technology solution.
If your process is efficient, then applying a technology solution will automate the operation which will properly enable growth. On the flipside, if your process is inefficient, then applying technology will be costly and likely work against itself. Technology for the sake of technology is not going to solve anything. In fact, without the proper process and strategy, you will likely create problems and reduce your margins by applying the wrong technology solution. A technology “solution” should solve something.
A technology solution should meet at least one of the following four criteria:
1. reduce operating expenses
2. automate existing (efficient) processes to enable growth
3. provide an effective means to communicate
4. enable your business to improve its products and/or services
Before the first dime is spent, insure that your examine these criteria.
Mike Echlin is a 20-year technology veteran who has helped many small businesses optimize their use of technology. Technology is an enabler for profits, period.
With latest and phenomenal inventions in the software technology, there has been a widespread craze for programs that can achieve great scores and help us in every way possible. And we all term these programs as a software in the computer industry which have been offering a wide range of solutions to companies belonging to every corporate sector. These programs, also known as software technology solutions, have been giving some great insight into business growth and success for an entire spectrum of companies in the global aspects. Software development companies are coming forth with remarkable business technology solutions through their products that are designed to work on organizational problems. They further strive to create ways to overcome them with the option to develop them at a later stage. These companies can introduce the best of modern technology and their business expert intelligence to prepare the perfect combination for various companies in solving their problems.
The indispensable need of IT solutions in UK
In software development, the market of UK is thriving. A number of software development companies are engaged here in the project of defining and designing their stratagems to create a realistic and effective solution that can satisfy all the concerns of their clients. Such projects and ventures has boosted the realm of software solution in UK to a great deal and has facilitated the growth of other small scale development as well. As a result, companies from various parts of the world are investing their money. They have full trust on these software solution companies in the UK and are allocating a specific team to meet their required targets.
Internet technology is perhaps the best example of a highly potential instrument in the growth of software development. The technology keeps progressing here, and people keep asking for more, especially those who are making the most of website services to promote their business. This sphere has a constant upward momentum where the sun never sets. The software solution developers, here, are keeping pace with the demands arising by the companies.
Consequently, a software solution company must possess great knowledge and latest info about the market trends. They should be well equipped with the latest tools and technologies to provide versatile solutions for unique business requirements.
Over the last 10 years, the travel business scenario has changed significantly. Today selling travel products is all about ‘best’ rates. To sustain in the battle to offer the ‘best deal’ and ‘best fare’ to the consumers, travel business owners have been forced to reduce almost all of their possible profit margins.
I still remember when a service fee of $6 was a norm across online sales of air tickets. Commissions and contracts were available to travel agents. Cancellation fee on hotels were healthy.
The emergence of large online travel agencies changed the rules of the business across the globe. Fuel prices and global economic conditions added to the challenges of earning healthy margins. Travel became the most competitive business. Commissions dried up. Segment fees reduced and “no fee” became the new best seller.
On the Travel Technology side, along with successful implementations, I have heard stories of many failures where travel businesses were not able to derive what they wanted from technology. Most of the time the key reasons for failure has been:
Over ambitious technology goal on a constrained budget Lack of ‘competitive’ Travel Technology expertise Poor IT team and management, suffering from ‘over promise’ and ‘under deliver’ In this ecosystem, how could a travel business set about defining an effective Technology Strategy for itself?
As a travel technologist, I have many motivations to say “buy my software”, but in my experience that’s not a good pitch. After carefully analyzing various successes and failures in the industry, here is what I feel I have learned:
Step 1: Identify what Travel Technology you need
Well, it is easier said than done. Most of the time not articulating the technology needs well is the biggest hurdle in Technology Strategy. As a travel business, here is what you could do to clearly articulate the need for technology.
Pen down the technology needs of the organization as envisioned by the business owner / key management personnel Consult with people external to the organization such as technology consultants, Travel Technology companies, GDS account managers, CRS / Suppliers and Travel Technology bloggers Let a technology company interview you and recommend a solution. This is generally free most of the times. Pursuing one or more of these three exercises diligently will build enough knowledge base about what your internal Technology Strategy should be. Identify and validate these thoughts with inputs from internal operations and marketing teams.
Step 2: Build vs. Buy?
This is considered the most complex question. The answer lies in dividing Travel Technology needs in three buckets.
Out of the Box
What is proprietary?
It is important to identify your differentiator as a travel business. Most of the time, proprietary defines a piece of technology which reduces OPEX corresponding to your business operations or is the biggest revenue generator corresponding to your business model.
What is a customized need?
Is there any part of your technology needs that could be sourced through an existing technology solution, customized per your need?
What can be out of the box?
This might be the most effort intensive part of your technology needs and may require a tremendous investment to build. Getting an out of the box solution that meets the majority of your requirements and configuring it as per your needs, is the ideal way. How to evaluate an out of the box solution is in itself a comprehensive process.
Now we come to the next complex part of this exercise.
Step 3: Identify the right budget and vendor
Identifying the right budget and the vendor is the most common shopping problem in every business sector. It takes a lot of time and energy to reach to a decision.
Let’s compare technology acquisition to the decision of buying a laptop. There are many vendors to choose from. There are laptops priced from $300 to $3000. Your decision to buy would be shaped by the life of the laptop, and the continuity of business (your work) it will guarantee.
Similarly, the continuity of your travel business would significantly depend on the Travel Technology you choose. That is why identifying the right budget, and the vendor is a complex decision.
I would attempt to breakdown the process of identifying a vendor into simpler steps since just asking a vendor for a quote would not necessarily help find the right one.
Expertise – Does the vendor has expertise in the travel business?
Support & Servicing – Travel is a service business. Irrespective of whether the product is ‘off the shelf’ or is being built for you, longevity and promptness of support is critically important to maintain a personalized quality of service to your customers.
Customization needed vs. Customizability -What is the future customizability of the software? (Applicable to both out of the box or custom built software) Whether customization done today decrease future cost of changing the technology? This is an important question to ask and seek answers to.
Value Add – Another important evaluation parameter for selecting a vendor is to check what part /component of the software is available free of cost and would remain so in the future.
Stability – Your guarantee of service to your customers depends on the stability of your vendor. It is important to seek answers to questions such as is the vendor going to be in business for long? How are you safeguarded if a vendor goes out of business?
References – Who are the customers of the vendor? Can the vendor provide references?
Maturity – Is the vendor’s organization a product oriented and innovation driven institution or do they survive by making money from one gig to another?
Empathy – Does the vendor considers your business as their own? How willing is the vendor to empathize with your business challenges?
Budgeting for technology is also a little challenging. It may be worthwhile to look beyond the onetime fee and understand all cost factors, including the cost of extended support the vendor may provide during your business life-cycle.
Cost should also include additional overheads of implementing technology, especially when you are dealing with GDS or CRS / Consolidators. Budgeting done in partnership with a selected vendor often yields the best results.
I have attempted to lay out a model that would help travel businesses shape their Technology Strategy.