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The Race to Innovate: How Companies Can Use Technology to Get Ahead of the Competition

Technology Innovation

As part of Solutions Review’s Premium Content Series—a collection of contributed columns written by industry experts in maturing software categories—Daniel Herndon, the Director of Cloud Services at Laserfiche, shares insights on the types of technology innovation companies should adopt if they’re looking to stay on top of changing market trends.

Premium Content BadgeThe way people work at technology-driven companies is changing dramatically. Forces like the Great Resignation—the shift towards hybrid workforces and workplaces—a 108-percent year-over-year increase in venture capital investments (with technology services dominating this funding). There is also increased investment in global Software as a Service (SaaS) companies contributing to a competitive field where tech companies spread thin are vying for a limited talent pool of employees. 

As technology companies employ new methods for recruiting and retaining top talent, the bar will be raised for all companies across tech and non-tech industries. In other words, the way everyone works is in the midst of a significant shift. By identifying and committing to some fundamental techniques, leaders can take advantage of these changes to create stronger teams who make a superior customer experience and receive greater value for their customers—the beneficiaries of this accelerating competitive environment.  

Select the Right Tech

The business community embraced the work-from-home ethos as a result of the pandemic. For example, at least 70 percent of businesses plan to keep a WFH component and go hybrid. However, there is concern that, without careful planning, returning to the office could create a disparity between those who work remotely and those who come into an office. Conference calls, in-person collaboration, and organic office conversations are part of the experience of working in person. This poses challenges and disadvantages for the WFH contingent. We could see success in 2022 coming from organizations breaking out of the “digital sameness” that WFH has accentuated. 

The evolution of working is not done yet, and neither are the issues that need to be resolved. To execute a successful hybrid work plan that helps retain current employees and attract new talent—in-person and remote—, leaders should keep an eye on emerging technologies that will continue to enhance the employee experience. Incorporating Robotic Process Automation (RPA), artificial intelligence, and machine learning into company processes could help employees reduce the time spent on repetitive or menial activities and provide opportunities for them to focus on strategic goals, projects, and professional development.

Keeping an eye on current and emerging technology trends (such as virtual reality, blockchain, IoT, and 5G) sends the message that an organization is adaptable and future-ready. Success in 2022 may also come from breaking out of the “digital sameness” that WFH has accentuated. Companies will need to focus on designing their systems and products to differentiate themselves and attract the right people. 

The pandemic turned the world on its head, driving everyone into a frenzy and putting companies in solution mode. As a result, some of those technologies were not effectively incorporated into the corporate culture or processes. While initially, the technologies may have helped respond to immediate concerns at the start of the pandemic, their long-term impact may become blunted.                  

With so many options, choosing the right tech is a challenge, but the biggest mistake companies could make is actively avoiding mistakes. This could be more of an issue for larger legacy companies than technology-driven companies built on the principles of agility. Companies with agile cultures and embraced agility as a means of innovation are more capable of quickly identifying what works and should reap the benefits of new processes ahead of their competitors. 

Becoming Human-Centric

Amid the Great Resignation, business leaders cite workforce and talent-related issues as a top concern in 2022 and beyond. As a result, companies will try to use their access to high-end technology to attract customers and talent and retain their current employees. 

Human-centricity will be a big focus in 2022. Human interaction matters most now—82-percent of U.S. consumers want more of it in the future—but the tech behind it must be seamless. Human-centricity is more than just designing user-friendly products. It’s about putting people at the center of everything a company does: their organizations and products. Companies need to know their employees and customers, understand the problems they want to solve, and provide them with solutions they can’t find elsewhere. 

Organizations have more than enough technologies, and some estimates suggest that the average organization uses more than 70 SaaS services. What companies need in 2022 is to understand the problems their employees and customers are trying to solve with customer experience solutions. The pandemic put companies in solution mode, and everyone started adopting new technologies regardless of whether they truly understood the need. 

Companies will have to become human-centric to survive. Positive employee and customer experiences are more important than ever, and technology can’t become a wedge between your customers and the organization. You can have all the latest technologies, but employees must remain the priority. Employees drive your customers’ experience and are the source of future innovations. Technology is just one component of a solution, a tool for solving problems, not the answer.  

Being Customer-Obsessed

Customers and employees are connected at the hip, and it’s long been known that happy employees make happy customers. The best companies won’t flinch in their efforts to accommodate employees’ remote needs in 2022—it’s all a part of being customer-first and customer-obsessed.  

The way an artist’s studio is central to an artist’s ability to create is the same way that innovation spaces are crucial for employee flourishment in an organization. The environmental requirements for artistic inspiration are no different for innovation in the technology space. Startups have long understood the need to provide spaces for ideas to flourish. This imperative is no different for technology and non-technology companies that see a need to make innovation a core part of their product strategy in the post-COVID era.  

No matter how organizations approach innovation, it’s essential to create an environment that allows that innovation to flourish. Whether in the office or WFH, innovation should be embedded in the core of workplace cultures and shine through via the choice of technologies. 

A Virtuous Circle 

When companies select the right tech and focus on being human-centric and customer-obsessed, the organizational benefits can create a virtuous cycle. Incorporating innovative technology solutions attracts top talent, who continue to spur innovation that creates a superior customer experience, who then, in turn, provide the capital and resources to add budget to technology innovation. Once a company enters this virtual cycle, it can comfortably stand up against any competition.

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