Before the rise of internet-based discount travel websites, many vacationers and business travelers relied on travel agents to reserve their flights and hotel stays. This was a profitable business with many perks for a long time. Then the internet exploded in popularity. Companies began taking advantage of the ability to directly link them to consumers without a middleman.
The industry was thoroughly disrupted. The only travel agencies and agents that survived were those who caught on early and invested heavily in their website and eCommerce power. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of full-time travel agents in the U.S. dropped from a high of 124,000 in 2000 to around 81,000 in 2016. The industry continues to experience significant disruption with the likes of Uber, Airbnb and other share-based based travel services.
Every industry is susceptible to similar disruption. Only by looking ahead and planning for the future can a company ensure it is up-to-date on industry trends and major innovations that will give your company a competitive edge. Including your IT in that strategy is key. Technology should be leveraged to accomplish your goals for your business. Your IT is more than an operating expense. It’s an investment in your business’ competitiveness and overall ability to weather future technological disruptions to your industry.
4 Questions to Start Planning
When you start planning for your business’ future growth, make sure you answer these four questions to help align your IT with your growth plan:
- Where is your business now?
- Where do you want it to be?
- What strategic initiatives are you planning for 2019?
- What are your key performance indicators?
Simply answering those four questions will get you a long way to planning for your business’ future growth.
Once you have those answers, align your technology strategy with your strategic plan. This can include:
- Software licenses
- Line-of-business-specific applications
- Anything else in your IT environment that will need to accommodate the growth.
You don’t want gaps in your technology, and planning is essential to ensuring you don’t get stuck down the road.
IT Spending: Cost Versus Value IT
Oftentimes, business owners view technology as merely being an expense, a cost of doing business. But, as thousands of travel agents learned, it’s much more than that.
Technology is an investment in your business that brings clear value by increasing productivity, enhancing the customer experience and pleasing your employees. It becomes a cost-saving investment when you factor in the improved productivity, higher sales and other benefits strategically deployed technology solutions can bring. For example, one of our clients went from $180 million to $300 million in sales simply by investing in their website’s processing power. But those benefits can only be realized by including your information technology in the strategic planning for your business.
How Planning Helps Your Business Grow & Saves Money
Aligning your IT with your strategic plan helps your business grow and save money by giving you a clear view of where you are, where you want to be, what’s happening in the market and which technology solutions you need to achieve your business goals. If you plan for the obstacles and business needs on the horizon, you can invest in the technology that gives your business the most value: improved operations and a competitive advantage.
Another way you save money is by reducing the number of surprise, one-off purchases, like when that really old laptop or server implodes.
It’s generally far more expensive – and indicative of poor planning – to purchase laptops one by one off the shelf. It would be far more cost-effective and forward-thinking to replace 20 percent of your computers each year, as we recommend. As the life of a laptop is, at best, five years, refreshing your IT this way allows you to spread out the investment over time but still ensure your employees are working on up-to-date systems.
Your IT Provider Can Help
Your IT managed services provider can help you get a handle on where your IT currently stands and what needs to be changed to prepare for future growth. Their experiences with other clients in the same industry automatically gives you an edge on those without insight into industry standards or a deep understanding of technology.
With Applied Tech, you work with a strategic technical account manager (TAM) who helps you plan your IT with an eye toward future growth. Through our exclusive ROADmap process you will be able to reduce the costs of maintaining your existing systems and applications, so you can focus on technology investments that truly support your business goals. Your technical account manager will help you ensure your ROADmap is aligned with your strategic plan to achieve your business goals.
If you’d like an Applied Tech technical account manager’s help on planning your IT to position your business for growth, fill out the form below or give us a call at 608.729.1300.