Is your company spending a fortune in implementing technology solutions? The grapevine has it that all businesses will be forced to transform into tech companies to remain competitive, reduce cost, be efficient, provide solutions faster and better than their competitors, which is where all companies are headed anyway.
However, you need to realize that there are many technology providers and many solutions out there. There is a probability of you making a mistake that will cost a lot of time, money and energy. From my 10 years’ experience in designing, developing and deploying tech solutions, below are the 3 major mistakes companies make when deploying digital technologies
1. Forcing technology to a problem
Forcing a technology is the most common problem I’ve encountered and believe it or not, it is very rampant. For instance, a CTO or CEO will approach a developer and insist that they want a mobile app solution to power their next big product and service. They will then paint a beautiful picture of how the app will revolutionize the business and put them ahead of the competition. Developers then start working on the project, six months later after a beautiful launch of the app, it would have 5 downloads on Play Store. Keep in mind that customers do not care about shiny new apps because all they want is someone to answer their concerns when something goes wrong.
You need to be a patient and curious CTO or CEO to dissect the real issue customers are having, and the best way to solve their problem. As an executive, you need to consider different technology options based on your end users i.e. customers’, employees’ or suppliers’ goals and objectives, instead of your company’s goals and objectives. From that, you will be able to use technology that will offer real value to your customers.
To avoid this mistake, the next time you are engaging a developer or tech company, it would be helpful to state the problem you want to solve, or value you wish to drive for your end users and not the organization. The developer will be able to give you different available options from which you can choose the best. This process will need humility on your side, but consider the time, money and energy you will waste if you deploy the wrong technology.
2. Not factoring in Business models when designing tech solutions
Your business can fall in the category of the manufacturer, distributor, retailer or franchise. For each of these categories, the tech uses, designs and solutions are different. You can have a product, solutions, matchmaking, or a multi-sided model. Whatever the case, the technology available for you is dynamic.
The simplest definition of the term business model is how you plan to make money. In our Kenyan context, a business may plan to make money by importing items from China and sell them in Kamkunji, become a distributor of FMCG products, consult for a corporate, manufacture soap at home and sell on Facebook, or open a WhatsApp group to market your items.
There are countless ways in which your company can use to make money. For technology to successfully deliver value to your business, it should be built around how your business plans to make money. This means, technology is a tool to deliver business products and services but not directly the business.
A majority of people I’ve met believe that the technology is the business. For instance, an SMS solution is the business, an app is the business or an online e-commerce shop is the business, yet these are just a means of delivering a commodity or service to a customer.
When you understand how your business will make money, you are free to use any technology that will deliver the products and services conveniently to your end users.
As a CEO or CTO, you need to start by asking yourself, what problem am I solving for my customers? and what is the simplest way to do it? Then consider the products and services you will offer to solve these issues, and afterwards ask yourself, how will I make money from these products and services? Once that is clear, you will know what kind of technology, if necessary, will be most efficient for your end users to enable you run an efficient operation.
3. Not having the end user in mind i.e. Customer, Employee and Supplier
The Japanese have a philosophy called “Genchi Gembutsu” which means “Go see for yourself.” Kenyans have a philosophy called “Kwa ground vitu ni different” which means “Be in touch with the reality on the ground.” If your business is to truly embrace the philosophy of “Kwa ground vitu ni different,” then, before you start any technology project, you need to go conduct a thorough research of what the real situation is. You probably will not like the results.
For you to succeed, you must embrace and build technology for the situation ‘on the ground’ and this is not realized by shallow research for instance; internet penetration in Kenya is 70% or smartphone penetration is at 106%. Do extensive research and ask the hard questions i.e. Do people actually need this technology? How many people have a similar app? How often do they use it? Do I have a similar app on my phone? How many times do I use it?
Remember that, no matter how shiny, beautiful, affordable, efficient, genius or great your tech solution is, the end user always has the final say, you can never force them to use it.
It is very important to do extensive research of the tenets of your business models before you attempt to integrate and implement digital technology. Research will give you a sense of security on what you will eventually choose and your customers will be comfortable during transactions.