Remember the slogan “There’s an app for that”? These days, it’s shocking if there isn’t an app for that. We’ve reached a point where nearly every conceivable problem has three competing solutions vying for space on your smartphone. For businesses searching for an operational solution, it’s not about finding what’s out there — it’s about looking at all the options and choosing what’s best.
And it’s important to get the best: Businesses with top technology create twice as many jobs and increase earnings by at least 15 percent. However, if companies fail to integrate those tools in a seamless, functional way, they face serious frustration.
As apps and web services have proliferated, new services and products have emerged to manage the growth. For example, application programmable interfaces help different technology tools to talk to each other. But these types of services aren’t cure-alls, either. Integration services can make life easier, but they can also lead to yet another high-tech headache. Think about a few key things before seeking to integrate new tech:
Most companies run into integration woes when they don’t have a plan. Decide how your company will use the service or product you’re looking at. Salespeople will always push their tool, product, or service no matter what your situation is. Make sure you understand exactly what your company needs, and figure out whether the product can handle it.
Integration can cause a huge shift in the day-to-day workflow at a company, and a sudden implementation of a new tool can seriously throw your team members off their game. Make sure that all relevant departments are aware of the integration. Allow them to voice their opinions, too; they might ultimately help you make a better decision about which service or product to go with.
Group consensus is important for generating ideas, raising awareness, and airing concerns, but then it’s time to choose a leader to make the final call. Designate someone in your company as the point person or expert for the product or tool. Everyone should know who will field questions.
As I mentioned earlier, there are just too many products out there, and researching each is just not worth it. Survey the options that might fit what your company’s needs and then identify just two or three that you want to look at further.
If a product works for a company that’s similar to you, it will probably work for you, too. Take a look around at what other companies in your field are using. But also dig deeper and see how they’re using their product, how they’re integrating, and what their employees think about it.
Once you’ve got a product in mind, start looking at the other details. For example, companies with long-term contracts are generally worse to deal with and provide no escape if it’s not a good fit. Another consideration is location. If your company is in the U.S., American products and services will generally have more reliable customer service.
There’s an app for everything now, but your company doesn’t need to do everything; it just needs to do what it already does — but better. Plan well, and decide on a product that serves your goals.
Ari Rabban is the CEO of Phone.com and a veteran of the IP communications industry. Phone.com’s virtual phone service builds on the digital VoIP industry experience of its founders to deliver a complete suite of enterprise-grade unified communication services at an SMB price. Ari was named among the Top 20 Most Influential People in VoIP 2012 and currently serves on several boards, including the New Jersey Tech Council. You can follow him on Twitter @arabban.