It’s good to ask the obvious questions such as What is Business Technology? That’s because we all make assumptions, and by digging deeper we get the insights we all need.
What is business technology?
Business technology is the use of computers to perform tasks and meet information needs. Also known as information technology, we tend to think of internet, cloud, mobile, and digital information. But what does it mean?
If you break tasks into logical steps, then computers can complete them. They can do the same task over and over without error, and much faster than a person. That also means finding information in seconds too!
Many struggle with getting the best of out of technology. Our guide, Business Technology: Essential Guide to Best Use, will help you create a robust process to ensure your new tech achieves your aims.
What does business technology do?
The tools needed to run a business are enabled by technology. If you have a tool that allows you to deliver ten times faster than your competitor, you’ll have an advantage. If you both have the same tool, you’re on an equal footing. Technology will only give you a long-term advantage if it’s used in a unique way (which is harder but more worthwhile). But if you don’t have the same as your competitors then…
Why is information technology important to business?
Information technology (IT) is a key building block for business growth. There’s a strong link between IT spend and revenue growth, according to Frost and Sullivan. Almost half of those surveyed that had more than 30% growth, invested more than 15% of their revenues into IT. Those that don’t invest in IT will struggle to compete. But why is that?
Technology can help you search and quickly find information you need. That means you can respond to a customer query or make a quick decision. It makes better use of people’s time and can help you be more responsive.
It’s not only fast access to information that makes you quicker. Computers can make quick decisions too. Not only is it fast and accurate, but it reduces the need for people to do all the work. For example, getting an online insurance quote.
Therefore, IT can lower cost, make things faster and increase the ability to grow. You can also provide a better service. That’s because these tools allow the business to do so much more without increasing the workforce. But it’s also a source of innovation.
Why is business technology a source for innovation?
Business technology is a source of innovation because you can transform processes and you can use it to create new and unique offerings. Because you can use it in so many ways, it’s a source of creativity. You can meet the needs of underserved customers. Or break through limits and disrupt the market.
Transforming a process makes it faster and have less errors. That’s because you can automate tasks that would take people longer to do. But it’s not just that, it’s also about using the data to make better decisions. With the right information, you can focus on things that will give better results.
But it’s not just processes. You can create new products too. They can make an existing one more attractive or have a new one that disrupts the market. For example, remotely controlling a dumb wall heater using a phone app. You might disrupt the market with a platform that gives you access to an untapped market or deliver in a new way.
Why assume it’s Digital?
What’s key is the link between business technology and change. If you can deliver more, faster, at less cost, or at higher quality, that changes your competitive position. In some cases that can change an entire industry, for example digital and film photography.
We’ve seen how digital technology has shaken up both business and the world in general. In the past forty years, we’ve built competitive positions on information technology. Because of the impact of digital, and the fact it’s constantly evolving, we tend to link it with business technology.
Digital Technology as a Change Driver
Until the early 1980s, typing pools were common – a group of typists providing a shared service. I’m sure typing pools were progressive in their day. In the late 70s there were signs of change with personal and business computers such as the Commodore PET, Tandy TRS, and Apple II. In 1981 the IBM PC arrived, creating a wave that within a few short years, meant that typing pools were outdated.
Back then, my dad was Managing Director of The British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (BAMA). This was part of the bigger Chemical Industries Association (CIA). CIA provided those shared services such as typing pools to the various trade bodies. In the early 1980’s they offered my dad money to invest in computers instead using the pool. My dad, ever the forward thinker, jumped at the chance.
Change is Risk
We might think my dad’s decision to use PCs as obvious, but it wasn’t easy. My dad took a risk with business technology. He didn’t know if his staff would be able to adapt, or if they would be as productive. My dad carefully researched the software and decided on IBM Lotus Symphony and an early version of Microsoft Word. These were difficult to learn, and certainly not as intuitive as packages are today. It was demanding work, sometimes difficult, but in the end, it paid off.
Summing up the answer to the question of “What is business technology?”, I’d say it’s about change and being competitive. It’s about understanding the changes around you, and also learning how to apply that technology to the business.
- Frost and Sullivan (2019), Allocation of IT/Telecom Budget by Vertical Global 2019, Frost & Sullivan Online. https://ww2.frost.com/