Since the Dot-Com boom of 1995-2002, small and mid-sized businesses have been scrambling to keep up with larger companies due to their inability to invest comparable resources and effectively deploy an expertise in technology. To make matters worse, instead of quickly sharing the newly discovered processes to benefit the broader community, these same companies spent millions on protecting their technology with patents and trademarks, paying significantly higher salaries to individuals with expertise in this area, buying them off the market and creating a market gap reconciled only by an entry price out of reach for many SMBs.
Whether the advantage came in something blatant like internet sales, aggressive like marketing, or flashy like AI and Automation, nearly all successful businesses today have used technology to beat the competition. This left you, the SMB owner, without the resources or know-how to keep up.
This strenuous effort of millions of small businesses incentivized the remaining technology resources with the business knowledge to create pop-up tech companies, IT firms, development agencies, marketing agencies, consultants, retailers, and many more. However, this still leftout the vast majority of businesses who were not primarily focused on technology, but rather on an intersection of their personal direction with identifying and filling a market need and an expertise in a product or service. In other words, colleges and universities never taught technology adoption for small businesses and no one has yet focused on how to understand and leverage the plethora of software, automation and optimization products and processes on the market.
This lack of education and understanding at the SMB executive roundtable created room for the tech world to begin improving the function, impact, and scope of technology faster than anyone could keep up. To the extent that anyone with a new idea leveraging technology had the chance to see their dream through and absorb the open market share.
Today, although new ideas continue to emerge, the majority of the internet boom is over. The technology industry is focused on improving the technology we already have, creating more powerful batteries, smaller computer chips, powerful AI, fast computers, and yes, more accessible software.
Obviously new technologies will continue to emerge, as they always have, but the immediate challenge for SMB is using the technology we already have to our advantage. When new technology does emerge, SMBs need to be ready, caught up on the available tech and looking forward to what the future has to offer.
Seeing this market gap, tech moguls like Microsoft, Google, Amazon and many others have not only surpassed SMBs but also turned around and sold the technology back that they used to do it. The Tech Entrepreneurs were then sponsored by these moguls to step in and create a new line of IT called Consulting and Development. Over time, this created a rather convenient path for discovering and adopting new technology, for the right price of course. Many functions of technology quickly became available to businesses online. Web Developers today can build anything you can imagine and AI can answer any question about your data – software operates banks, sustains intelligence organizations, and connects every human on the globe with internet and a connected device.
So, for the last 10 years, the challenge every SMB has faced was keeping up with technology and beating the competition. This is changing now. As technology continues to develop, developers are constantly pushed to deliver faster, more sustainable and more powerful applications and apply them to business needs. As it turns out, the majority of businesses follow a relatively similar set of processes and perform reasonably similar functions. For example, regardless of what type of legal business you operate, you must file a tax return each year, which allows for the regulation of certain types of accounting and financial processes. This is why Excel is one application no business owner can successfully avoid. Microsoft was one of the first companies to standardize these tools online with Office 365, bringing these separate applications into one Cloud and allowing businesses to connect data between them. This connection of multiple data types allowed automation to become available and accessible today.
Today, the technology executives for SMB face an entirely new challenge. As technology is being made more stable, accessible and powerful, businesses need to navigate the plethora of opinions, ads and google results on adopting technology. The good news is that your effort is being supported by companies like Microsoft, who are continually striving to prepare whatever technology you need next. The bad news is that the burden remains on the business owner to take initiative and educate yourself, make informed business decisions around technology, know what your competitors are doing, know what your options are, and have any sort of reference on how to go about making your company more tech friendly.
As B2B Software companies continue trying to satisfy customers and gain market share, their applications will become more and more accessible, easier to deploy, and continue evolving to bring you the latest and greatest updates. Now, more than ever, SMBs need to focus their time and attention on understanding and leveraging technology to their advantage.
The first businesses to learn how to effectively build, maintain and improve powerfully integrated systems will be at the forefront of the next 10 years.
Success will rely primarily on the commitment to understand and adopt the technology reasonably available to your business. Going forward, a business owner must be as focused on the advancement of technology in the business as they are on the Operations of it. Only with this combination can a business learn to thrive in this new era of tech accessibility. Like all foundational aspects of business, Executive leadership must understand and direct this effort, and a director must be assigned to the general management of it. Single-threaded leaders are those focused on accomplishing a specific goal and overcoming all hurdles to successful completion. They are used when a task is essential to the businesses success, such as a CPA for tax compliance, a Salesman to bring in new customers and COO to management; a single-threaded leader is now required to lead SMB through the modern era of ever-evolving Software Accessibility.