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The biggest obstacles to harnessing technology are fear and misunderstanding.

Rather than just employ more people, or motivate them to work harder, use technology to empower employees, customers and partners. But (are you ready for this?) the greatest technology empowerment is achieved through software.

Confronting the fear and fog of software

“I was with you right up until you said the word ‘software’, then I went cold and glazed over.”

Just chatting about software can conjure up negative emotions in businesspeople who – at the same time – secretly acknowledge the enormous value it can bring them and their organisations. Problems start because software is barely tangible, and many people struggle overcoming the language barrier that accompanies software.

You feel like the tourist entering a crowded restaurant and the room falls silent with everyone staring at you. Your excruciatingly pitiful attempts to make yourself understood (“er… is there any way of making our e-commerce… er… better?”) are scoffed at or fall on deaf ears.

Three examples of when sticking to the profit motive puts tech anxiety in the shade

As Jessie J so eloquently put it, “it’s all about the money, money, money.” In other words, when finding yourself walled-in by impenetrable technology claptrap, remain focused on why you’re here. This ensures clarity of purpose for the objectives you want software to achieve, and stops you being sidetracked by any fear or fog. Here are three examples where people have successfully harnessed technology in their business:

1. “I knew we could get more done if I made things easier for my employees.” Profits come from people, so use technology to maximise their efficiency. A great example is the regional estate agency and their challenge of making employees fully productive, even when they’re on the road for anything up to 60% of the day. By using bespoke software to enable new property particulars to be updated on the fly, they’ve been able to add 25% more business to their books without taking on additional staff.

2. “We opened new markets and saved tons of cost by offering our traditional services online.” A certain family run publishing business needed to bring its services into the 21st century to head off competition and ensure continued customer loyalty. Rather than inundate the office with phone calls and emails, customers old and new get a better service using clever ‘self-service’ software that puts them in control of each publishing run. All this while the company enjoys a far higher profit margin than its traditional business model.

3. “We were amazed to find what made real customers spend more.” Businesses often find it’s a false economy to regard their ecommerce presence as just a tick in the box. By actually finding and talking to existing and prospective customers, and taking time to learn more about their preferences and needs, we know of countless organisations that have applied truly illuminating insights to tweak the user experience; boosting profits as a direct result of increased traffic, better basket conversions and higher NPS (net promoter scores).

illumo digital has a bunch of real life technology-for-profit business stories you can watch and read here.

Just make sure you avoid these three pitfalls of software development

Software development is a series of journeys; all should be purposeful and fruitful; all carry risk and expense. Don’t fall into these traps as you embark on yours!

  1. Forgetting you’re the expert on your business You know your business inside-out, and that insight is critically important to any software project. Be prepared to share business plans and the cold, hard ROI you expect. Don’t be kowtowed by anyone who’d rather talk techie than in clear business language.
  2. Overlooking the point of people People have to use software or it doesn’t work, and their experience, opinion and preferences are paramount. Unless you’re the customer or the employee using the software, remember to take a backseat on some decisions and champion the real users.
  3. Hiring the wrong software developer Shock, horror, it won’t always be illumo digital (though we’d love it if it was). This is such an important choice so do your homework and background checks. Ask tricky questions. You need to ‘click’ when you meet face to face or it could be hard forging a close and trusting relationship.

Profiting from technology doesn’t mean becoming ‘one of them’ Do not fear; becoming more au fait with the purpose and benefits of software doesn’t mean investing in textbooks or losing your soul to the God of Bits & Bytes.

You’re a human, right? Rest assured, that’s the most important qualification for this job.