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TECHNOLOGY

Four Ways to Use Technology to Beat Your Company’s Biggest Competition

The majority of established companies consider digital startups a threat.

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BY Elizabeth Gore - 11 Oct 2018

Four Ways to Use Technology to Beat Your Company's Biggest Competition

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

The next industrial revolution is rooted in digital transformation. This shouldn't be news to you, but many traditional businesses are still leery about investing large dollars in digital and getting "hip with the jive."

Recently I represented HelloAlice.Com and spoke at a roundtable that included eight Fortune 500 CEO's. To my surprise many of them were just now coming to terms with the speed of digital transformation. One visibly nervous Fortune 100 CEO in particular said "I used to not believe that these kids creating a speedy website could catch up with a huge company like ours, now I think we might be behind the digital curve."

If you are the speedy kid he was referring to, I would leverage every angle of digital technology and coding for customer acquisition and kick their butt.

Digital is altering the way your customers live, work and relate to one another. I believe that this change is filled with opportunity for us little guys and gals. Here are four ways your business can leverage technology to its advantage and beat these geezers to the finish line.

1. Use innovative technology to move faster than your biggest competitors.

A survey at Dell Technologies, the Digital Transformation Index, looked at the digital transformation of 4,000 business leaders across 12 industries. What struck me as a massive opportunity was that 78 percent of respondents consider digital start-ups a threat, either now or in the future. That CEO was right to be fearful of the "speedy kids."

Think of the largest hotel chains. Did you think they were expecting AirBnB? Since its founding in 2008, Airbnb has grown to list more rooms than any hotel group in the world.

While you are a small scrappy startup, utilize speed to your advantage and innovate as fast as you can. You can fail fast and go to market with more advanced solutions to beat out larger competition. Test everything with your customers and pivot weekly.

2. Ensure every service you provide is online.

I know this sounds intuitive to you, but while many organizations have begun their digital transformation, the progress is patchy. Of all respondents along the Digital Transformation Index, businesses in the top group are delivering new customer experiences by writing software to make their products smart or take their services online. However, 48 percent of respondents of that study said they don't know what their industry will look like in three years and are in a wait and see mode before they put more money into software.

Make an early investment into software and fly past them while they are waiting. Ensure you are thinking of how to get your products in the hands of customers as fast as possible.

3. Make social media and digital marketing a top priority.

The vast majority of startups leverage digital from day one. Many historic companies are still trying to figure out basic social media channels. Think about this, a 2016 study by marketing the research firm dscout studied 94 Android users over a five day period and found that on average they touched their phone 2,617 times a day and the top 10 percent of phone user's interactions doubled to 5,427 touches a day. The thought of touching anything thousands of times a day makes my skin itch. (except for maybe my husband, he's cute.) But you can't deny that consumers are deeply entrenched in social marketing.

Digital marketing, SEO, and social media should be an overlapping strategy for customer acquisition. Even physical stores must think about how to use these techniques to bring folks through the front door.

4. Every company no matter the industry or size, should now think of themselves as a technology company.

The days of the generalist IT director, looking over your shoulder and making fun of your inability to turn on your computer is over. These days, successful companies think code is as important as their product. However, many large companies are still thinking of technology as a tool instead of a product. They bring in a technology leader after the business plans are built, versus having them at the table at the beginning.

A technology executive should be in every strategy meeting of the business, not an afterthought. If you are a small business and don't have a CTO you must take on this focus as a leader.

Because of digital transformation, the barriers to entry that used to protect established companies, are significantly lower. There are a ton of tools to engage in this transformation while still small like Salesforce Essentials, Shopify, and GoDaddy. This is a huge opportunity for new entrepreneurs. Take advantage of these slow eight CEO's and race past your biggest competitors.

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