Kyle Woolf, CEO of Saicom
Technology is a challenging market sector to operate in – everything happens in real-time, customers want to access products and services at any time of day or night, and you must ensure there is not only round the clock support but also that the company stays at the forefront of innovation. Fortunately, there are a few basic principles that can help guide the business towards success.
1. Robust and scalable technology
Whatever technology your company brings to market, must be robust and scalable. This is where management must spend the time, money, and effort to hire the right people to build the components behind the technology solution.
From our side, we were fortunate to get funding in place early on which meant we could hire quality engineers to build a rock-solid network. After which, we got the sales team to grow the business. However, most companies will have to start with sales first to get the funds in place to fine-tune their solution. In this instance, they should be careful not to oversell but within the parameters of the support that will be available while the solution is being finalised.
If your product and service is scalable, and there is a big enough market for it, then you will be able to find funding soon enough. And if you already have revenue coming in, then the discussion becomes even easier.
2. People-driven success
As much as technology forms the foundation, any business is about its people. Without them, the best solution in the world cannot succeed. But more than appointing like-minded individuals who share in your vision, management must ask themselves where they need those people to be as efficient as possible.
This is where an intimate understanding of the workflow of the business comes in. Generally, it starts with solution architects and sales teams followed by project managers, and installation and support. Finally, there must be those able to work operationally and manage everything to ensure it runs smoothly. Even though this might sound obvious, it is surprising how few people know and understand this.
It is therefore critical to build the business around the correct workflow, one that delivers a seamless customer experience during every step of the process – from purchase to after-sales support. This revolves around setting customer expectations early on and showing you value them as individuals. People want to feel like they are heard, and providing constant communication is vital to achieving this.
3. Keep your focus
A mistake many technology businesses make is trying to be everything to everyone. Instead, they should try and adapt their skills and core competencies to be better than that of their competitors. Even though you might not have the product set of a large organisation, you have the perfect opportunity to focus on your niche.
It is about showing the customer you can produce a solution that is seamless and can integrate with their requirements. This will see you eventually become a trusted advisor to them.
However, if you do feel the need to build products that are not core to the business, consider outsourcing it first. This will see you remain focused on the fundamentals of the organisation. And if the new solutions are successful, you can then start building skills around it.
4. Quality always
Irrespective of your focus area, you should never compromise on quality when providing a solution. Even if the customer wants something in a hurry and is willing to pay for it, do not do it. It creates a massive knock-on effect in the business that puts staff under pressure and can result in significant internal issues.
Furthermore, the customer will end up looking foolish when it is a rush job and simply blame you, resulting in your reputation being damaged in the market. If you push back, the customer will understand that you are focused on always putting quality first. Suddenly, it becomes less about making a quick buck, but rather delivering a solution that puts them first.
5. Embrace disruption
Finally, your business should always be willing to embrace disruption especially when it comes to technology. After all, what worked 18 months ago might not be relevant today. You must continually evolve and look at where your market is headed, adapt to that, and deliver solutions accordingly.
This is where you can use an outsourcing model to test certain new solutions first to see if they work. Never over invest until you know there is a market need for these solutions. Eventually, your offering will expand and become more complete. Ultimately, it is about understanding your target market, and developing solutions accordingly.