Long ago, in a faraway land, there was the ‘Tech’ industry.  Companies in this industry built computers and the software to power them.  These devices were used to help the U.S. be the first in the race to reach the moon.  But a lot has changed since then.

For starters, the internet moved from a connection of computers used by researchers to a massive entity connecting more than 7 billion devices in just about every country in the world.   It has become so pervasive that even North Korea is online today.

But think about it, just about everything you do in your business today is tied to the online world.  Everything.  From ordering materials from your suppliers to marketing your business to even filing a workers’ compensation claim.  As a result, you can’t run your business without a connection to the internet and for this reason, we need to start thinking of every company as a tech company.

 Beyond the Buzz Words

If you read the Harvard Business Review or other leading journals, you will know that articles on ‘digital strategy’ are all the rage right now.  But what is beyond the buzz words?  The reality is that companies such as Airbnb, Alibaba, and Uber have shaken non-tech industries to their core.  While these changes have been earth-shattering for incumbents, it is difficult to deny the results.

For small businesses with limited resources the goal of transforming a bakery into a technology company can be somewhat daunting.   That being said, it is not impossible and opportunities to boost one’s business include looking at how it engages with customers and how they compete in their relative markets.

As such a key part of achieving digital transformation is a focus on customer experience.  This will help you and your team to develop insights on how your customers interact with your business and then, implement a methodology to make actionable these learnings.

But it goes beyond customers as the ultimate focus is changing a company to a more seamless workflow – one that fosters transparency and continuous improvement.  This is not easy, but the idea is to go past the buzzwords and to find ways to make actionable the changes you want to make.

Hold the Mayo

You might not think of as a mayonnaise company as an opportunity to implement a tech transformation, but you would be wrong.  One example, of this, is Hampton Creek. The company makes a plant-based mayonnaise.

Now, here comes the tricky part.  Not only does the company need to employ bioengineers to make its product have the taste and consistency we have come to expect in mayonnaise but they also employ several digital tools to manage its supply chain and with how it interacts with customers.

A more obvious example is Amazon. Sure, the company is a behemoth and its operations today do not resemble the company’s humble beginnings.   But the when Amazon was just starting out Jeff Bezos and the rest of his team realized that they needed to rely on technology to get their products to customers around the country.

This started by a focus on logistics but has since expanded to a massive data science operation which helps the company predict customer behaviors.  This is part of the reason why Wall Street loved the idea of Amazon buying Whole Foods, as it could lead to radical change in the nature of retail –, especially groceries.

What Does This Mean for You?

You might not have the resources of an Amazon or even a Hampton Creek, but you can transform your company into a tech company and here are some ways to make it happen.  First, you need to know your business and how your business model should function.  This means understanding the key drivers that impact the profitability of your business and knowing how you can leverage your ability to attract and maintain customers.

The second thing you can do is to look for ways to use technology to get closer to your customers.  The goal is to convert customers to ‘ambassadors for your brand’.   While this can be difficult for some business owners, trusting your customers to play a key role in story about your business can help you to gain a significant amount of traction in the market.  After all, this is just word of mouth but with a digital twist.

From there, start looking at your products and services and then figure out ways to transform their development and delivery. Maybe it is as simple as giving your team online tools which will help them to deploy faster and for a lower cost.  Another option could be finding ways to build up the stars on your team and to help them expand their reach by contacting with experts who can help drive them to new heights.

Doing so will allow you to gain tangible advantages over your competition and by extension transform your company into a tech company.

By Eddy

Eddy is the editorial columnist in Business Fundas, and oversees partner relationships. He posts articles of partners on various topics related to strategy, marketing, supply chain, technology management, social media, e-business, finance, economics and operations management. The articles posted are copyrighted under a Creative Commons unported license 4.0. To contact him, please direct your emails to [email protected].