No matter what industry you operate in, the value of technology is clear. It makes us more productive, it incentivises customers to make more frequent purchases, and it streamlines time-consuming tasks for busy staff. In fact, research from Xero found that business owners who readily adopt new technology enjoy 120% higher revenue and are 27% more likely to wake up excited about their work.
Despite this, that same research revealed that only one in five small businesses consider themselves as ‘technology adopters’. Moreover, nearly a third admit that they have continued to delay investing in new tech. Here are some of the biggest barriers to technology adoption — and why the time to embrace tech is right now.
Falling into the mindset of ‘good enough’
Unfortunately, one of the greatest barriers to integrating new technology in an established business is the anxiety around how much it will cost, and how complex it will be to adopt. According to Nick Houldsworth, Executive GM Ecosystem at Xero, this concern often translates into a mentality of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
“Small business leaders tend to believe their current solutions are ‘good enough’, even if new technology might help them do better,” Houldsworth says. “Too often these changes are forced because something breaks, or is end-of-lifed by a software or hardware vendor, or worse, because of a cyberattack.”
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By contrast, owners who readily adopt digital tools are generating incredible benefits, particularly throughout the pandemic when the idea of ‘going digital’ became essential rather than optional.
Houldsworth advises that “not every new tool needs to be a gargantuan digital transformation across the business”. Instead, by making incremental changes to your technology suite, businesses can take smaller steps that will ultimately result in larger outcomes over the long term.
The risk of being a late adopter
Being the last person to the table usually means you’re left with scraps. In the case of adopting critical technologies, any delay can put your operations in jeopardy — especially when unforeseen disruptions arise.
“If there’s one thing the pandemic has shown us, it’s the importance of creating a resilient business model that can enable your business to keep functioning, even when you can’t open a physical shopfront, or meet your customers in person,” Houldsworth says.
“Start small and scale up, and the benefits will become obvious.”
The good news is that research clearly indicates that small businesses are seeing a direct correlation between technology and success — with increased revenue, higher productivity and better mental health for their teams all potential outcomes.
The recent Picking up the pace: Trends in small business technology adoption and use, for example, found that the top 25% of app-enabled small businesses reported annual sales uplifts of 4.4–8.7 percentage points, compared to non-app users.
“Those who adopt and move quickly are the ones who will thrive in the long run,” Houldsworth says.
How to overcome these barriers to tech adoption
So aside from dealing with the anxiety factor, how can you set up your business in a way that it’s prepared for a steady influx of new technologies? Houldsworth advises you to begin with a plan.
“The first thing is to build an IT strategy focused around what you want your business to achieve,” he says. “The technology should only be seen as a means to that end. One of the benefits of the modern cloud-based digital world is that there isn’t a huge outlay in IT hardware.
“You can run an SMB from a laptop in your lounge room, connected to residential Wi-Fi, using a portable card reader connected to a tablet as a till, using cloud storage to keep records and Xero for your accounting — all activated with a few clicks.”
And it’s apps, in particular, that Houldsworth says can elevate your operations above your competitors. With billing/payments, payroll, invoicing and rostering all consolidated into your app suite, Houldsworth says you can build “a complete digital workflow that supersedes even the multi-million dollar IT spends of large enterprises of just five to ten years ago”.
The Xero App Store is one platform where small business owners can find, choose and buy the right apps for their business that connect with the Xero platform. Depending on your needs, these apps can expand your capabilities as a business, handling everything from inventory to payments to rostering and much more.
We all use apps every day to help run our lives. Now you can use apps to help run your business together with Xero. Learn more about Xero apps at apps.xero.com.
Xero is a cloud-based accounting software platform for small businesses with over 3 million subscribers globally. Through Xero, small business owners and their advisors have access to real-time financial data any time, anywhere and on any device. Xero offers an ecosystem of over 1,000 third-party apps and 300 plus connections to banks and other financial partners.