With technology evolving rapidly, businesses that do not quickly adapt and evolve with the times run the risk of being rendered obsolete. Even big and established companies can crumble if they don’t respond to changing customer habits fast enough.
A good and exceptionally high profile example of this is how streaming service Netflix came to be.
Blockbuster vs. Netflix: A Quick Case Study
Before the advent of fast and reliable internet, people rented out physical copies of movies from video stores, which was dominated by Blockbuster in the 1980s up to the early 2000s. Netflix came way later with a slightly different business model, but it still competed with Blockbuster in the video rental space—though not for long.
Instead of renting out individual copies of movies in physical stores, Netflix delivered DVDs to your door and got paid through a monthly subscription. As we all know today, Blockbuster is all but a memory for those old enough to have witnessed its meteoric rise and crumble, while Netflix is currently a household name.
However, Netflix didn’t beat Blockbuster through their subscription service alone. Instead of sticking to physical DVDs, Netflix changed the game by hopping on the then still-young internet bandwagon and introduced on-demand streaming. Having the ability to watch your favorite shows and movies on the internet dismantled the whole video rental industry—and along with it fell Blockbuster, lost in the battle for innovation.
The lesson here is that even industry giants need to be vigilant in how technology can render a particular service redundant or obsolete. As an industry giant, Blockbuster didn’t even see Netflix as a direct competitor in 2003, which, back then, was essentially a small business.
If anything, the rapidly changing and disruptive nature of digital technology presents small businesses with an opportunity to carve their niche in their respective industries.
How can small businesses take advantage of digital technology?
Regardless of industry, small businesses can use digital technology to improve their business processes. When a vendor approaches your company to offer a new way of doing things, it’s natural for small businesses to be hesitant at first. However, if a particular piece of technology improves your workflow significantly, then it is a worthwhile investment. The crucial thing is to check how it fits into your current business process!
Small businesses should look for the following characteristics in a vendor before finalizing the investment:
Expertise in the industry
The technology will not make your job easier if its developers do not have an in-depth knowledge of the industry. For example, while time tracking software has been used in many industries, just any generic version might not fit a particular accounting firm. This is especially true if you employ several certified public accountants (CPAs) handling many clients at any given time. Keeping accurate time records is crucial for employee compensation and billing, after all.
Specially-designed time tracking software for CPAs, such as the one we provide here at My Firm 360, will streamline your processes by allowing you to record time spent on each client and project.
Mastery of the technology
Find a vendor that knows both how the technology works and how it can still be improved. Technology can always be improved—and having a vendor who knows that you are always ready to take advantage of improvements can help give you a competitive edge!
With in-depth industry knowledge and technology mastery comes the ability to develop a product that satisfies multiple needs.
A vendor with an intimate understanding of your industry will find ways to integrate their product with other existing technology. This way, you can use their tools without having to change your workflow drastically.
Tools should be tailor-fit to serve your purpose, not the other way around!
Taking advantage of new technology doesn’t mean using newly-released tools as they come. It entails knowing if the technology is ripe for the taking and understanding of how it can improve your workflow. While you shouldn’t be banking on a document management software as a ticket to dominating the accounting space, you should keep your eyes and ears open for its potential to help you gain more clients and more efficient workflows.
My Firm 360’s accounting workflow software empowers accounting firms by giving them a way to do everything from one place. There’s no longer any need to use clunky separate tools that don’t work well with each other—or worse, waste time doing everything manually! Instead, accountants can do everything, from document management and time tracking to advanced reporting and invoicing, all in one robust tool. Contact us today for a free demo!