Shifts in technology can dramatically transform the economic environment in which a business exists as well as the work environment in which its employees perform. By necessity, such changes must alter the strategies that a business uses to survive and thrive. Such strategies must be informed by a keen eye for innovations and trends, a steady stream of knowledge from both internal and external sources, and an eager willingness to adapt to change.
Knowledge is a resource absolutely essential for any company or business seeking to adapt to technological change. Knowledge of up-and-coming technologies and their applications can be sought externally through partnerships with universities, research institutes, technology firms, and other “knowledgeable” organizations. What better way to stay on top of the latest technological trends than through communication with the innovators of this technology? Another source of invaluable knowledge is a company’s customer base; a business should seek to learn as much as it can from its customers about how they are using its products or services and how these might be improved.
A company can also foster internal knowledge. This can be achieved by allocating funds, employees, and other resources towards purposes of research and development. For a large company, this may mean the creation of a full-fledged research department. For a small business, this may mean putting aside work time for research by employer and employees, and setting aside money to purchase new technologies for experimentation or full integration. A company should also do its best to create opportunities for employees to mingle and communicate, which can facilitate knowledge-sharing. Providing generous benefits to employees can reduce employee turnover, keeping knowledge and expertise within a company.
It is important to remember that integrating a new technology effectively into a company’s operations requires simplification and standardization, which may be disruptive. A business cannot expect the introduction of a new technology to subtly compel standardization and improvement; for a new technology to enhance productivity, a business must make a deliberate effort to standardize its operations around that technology. This may involve reorganizing business operations and will most definitely involve training employees in how to integrate the use of new technologies into everyday business procedures.
Despite the challenges a business may face in times of technological upheaval, new technology should be looked at as an opportunity for improvement rather than as something to be feared; it is very possible for businesses and employees not only to adapt to technological shifts, but to use such changes to their advantage.