Understand technology P.A.R.K.

Understand technology P.A.R.K.

How many people do you know that are one Google search short of a PhD? They seem to everything about everything on a given topic. After all it’s on the internet so it is correct, right? There is nothing wrong with a bit of knowledge. Honestly, I don’t know how I existed without YouTube to fix things. I remember having to go to a library! What – that’s crazy talk.

Which leads me to today’s topic. I had a couple questions over the last few weeks that fall into the “How do I know what is right for my business?” as it pertains to the right technology choice. My answer – there is no simple answer, but a little knowledge and alignment can go a LONG way in making sure you are on the right course. I often talk about a simple acronym – P.A.R.K.

Before we dive into P.A.R.K. – technology, no matter what it is; is an aid to your business. It is not a magic pill. For example, I cringe when I see a retailer with a website that has a “cart”. Many retailers consider that to be “doing eCommerce”. Maybe they even throw a couple bucks at some frivolous digital marketing teaser. Be prepared to go all in. Maximize your ROI. It is an investment in the future viability/growth/success of your business treat it as such. Would you hire a new sales associate and give them an hour and then ignore them but once a month when they expect to be paid? I mean how dare they.. You get my point.

Now to our regularly scheduled program! P.A.R.K.

(P)lan! Know thy needs. I talk about this topic A LOT as I watch retailers stray off this path towards the shiny object too many times; only to get burned or become quickly dissatisfied with their ultimate choice. What are your 3 top needs? (Maybe it’s not 3, but it’s definitely not 30. Less is more). List the needs. Know them inside and out. Now plan to research based on these needs. These are not dreamworld aspirational wants but real world “Man if I had this” type needs. Use these as the driving compass on your decision. Yes, other things also must be considered – but do not compromise on the core needs to save a few bucks. Gather input on these needs (above) from your rock stars – but don’t ignore the opinions of the up-and-comers. I think it tremendously effective to gain insight from your team. If you have done it right, you are surrounded by people that you have entrusted with responsibilities. Let them help you formulate your must haves. However, this is where I catch heat – you make the decision and own it. Too many times I see the “committee” approach used do to the final meetings with vendor choices. The minute a selection is made – there are hurt feelings; malicious compliance is already brewing. There is never a 100% unanimous decision. Honestly. Gain input. Involve others, but at some point, have a few conversations solo with the vendors and you make the call. Then communicate the “why” to the team once you do. Thank them all and then work as a team to strategize the maximization your new investment (notice I said investment)! Now (A).

(A)ssimilate your new investment! Remember my comment about the “magic pill”. Now that you have decided on a new tech, make sure you have an unwavering commitment to make it part of your business; taking no shortcuts along the way. Your provider can provide you a development or implementation or training road-map. Most people don’t ask. Make that a must-have as part of the negotiation. “I am looking to select you, however before I do I need a (1) page road-map of how you see an implementation happening within my business”. You don’t need a 36-page narrative – you need a list of milestone events (tasks/steps) that will ensure expectations are visible and agreed to (alignment).

(R)esource for success! If you are going down any technology path, be prepared to go “all in”. This might mean making a strategic hire, allocating an ongoing budget, carving out “time” for your team to pull extra duty on your new thing, incentive’s for success, mixing in pizza and words of gratitude along the way. Don’t buy the car and chince out on the gas. You made the decision because it was right for your business. Now invest to make it a success. (note – I didn’t say be wasteful, careless, frivolous, impractical, etc. Be smart – do it right).

(K)eep the course. Tenacity,perseverance, steadfastness. There is no instant tech. You made an investment in something that was for the betterment of your business. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon! Make sure you are keeping yourself involved in its continued efforts. This includes ongoing training, huddles with your team to discuss practice and usage, refreshers on the system, new team member training and mentoring. Using a fitness analogy – don’t go to the “tech” gym for a few weeks and expect dramatic business results. Keep the course and maximize the ROI.

To Recap:

  • Plan your selection
  • Assimilate your choice
  • Resource for success
  • Keep at it!

Finally – a bonus “suggestion”. Continue to educate yourself on all tech and related as it pertains to your business. This will ensure you have a keen eye on what you have today as you plan for tomorrow. But beware – there is a lot of noise around you. How many times have you read something on the innerwebs or heard a presentation or seminar and the presenter/author is the self-proclaimed foremost authority on a topic. To the innocent – they have appearances of possessing a treasure-trove of information. However, most materials are well-crafted messages that are tailored to the “offering” the presenter “supplies”. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this if done with pure intent (most of the time). However, often it falls onto a crowd of attendees that are emotionally “ready” for an easy answer. The message often plays to this. Here is an example. “Grow your eCommerce business with these 3 easy steps”. The get fit and look younger pill. There are no “sure fire methods” or “foolproof ways”. This is particularly rampant in tech/web/digital marketing/traffic building, etc. as this is often a hugely confusing secret sauce perceived arena. So, no matter the topic or presentation – it is YOUR responsibility to have enough understanding to source the right “expert” and ask the right questions. Ask around. Call referrals. Research just enough to know what to ask. However – don’t go and earn that Google PhD – you have better things to tackle.

Investment in tech is a must have. Website, Retail Management Systems, in-store tech, warehouse management, the list goes on and continues to change. Be smart. Be prepared. Go in with the mindset to make the right choice for you – but make it and then use it. Your next investment awaits.

And speaking of parks, if you you’ve ever played on this concussion-giving, bone-breaking, kid rocket-launching hunk of spinning awesomeness and survived… You are a true warrior!

Retail on!