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10 ways to future-proof your business

By HP / HP Technology at Work
April 9, 2012

We also want to through our Spice into the mix. Our clients who utilize our Open End lease solutions, receive updated phone every 36 months at no additional charge. All software updates are also included for the term of the lease.

If thereís one constant in business, itís change.

Knowing what your business will look like in five or ten years is important, but your long-term goals should never detract from your short-term objectives. If you donít have specific, measurable, action-oriented andómost importantlyórealistic short-term objectives in place, your business may not have much of a future.

One technique that businesses can utilize when looking to the future is called ďflash foresight.Ē This way of thinking allows businesses to look forward and unearth previously invisible opportunities, as well as transform their findings into a model that they can use to solve any problems. By knowing what to expect down the road, businesses can future-proof their technology and staffing needs accordingly, ensuring theyíre prepared for any obstacles they may encounter.

Here are ten things you should consider when preparing to future-proof your business:

1. Outline your needs

Take a look at your businessís main functions and growth plans for the next few years. By doing this, you will reveal what your needs are and how your current technological priorities will line up with them.

2. Use hard trends to see whatís coming

Seeing trends before they happen can often be invaluable to your business. For instance, HP was able to foresee trends of accelerating smartphone usage amongst businesses and was able to successfully utilize that knowledge to create options like HP ePrint for most of their new printers. On the other hand, companies like GM failed to recognize certain trends like rising gas prices, resulting in the discontinuation of many of their larger automobiles.

Being able to differentiate between cyclical changes (stock market) and linear changes (population growth), and hard trends (aging baby boomers) and soft trends (not enough doctors to treat aging baby boomers), will help your company make accurate predictions.

3. Past strategies may fail to engage new customers

Has your business been around for more than five years? Do you still rely on print campaigns, direct mail, or newspaper and magazine advertising? Are you getting the same return on investment from these strategies? If so, it might be time to try something new. Donít hesitate to put emerging technology like social media and mobile applications to use.

4. Use cloud-based services

Rather than purchasing expensive hardware and software that quickly becomes outdated, investigate cloud-based technology. By utilizing cloud computing, your company can get rid of bulky on-site servers and have virtual access to all types of documents. Employees can even access important files while on the road by using any computer or smartphone with an Internet connection.

5. Take advantage of new technology

Whether itís a new PC or a smartphone, what you buy today can technically be obsolete tomorrow. For a long time businesses have just accepted this, but it is possible to avoid it altogether. Online systems incorporate all the major tools you need next yearónot just todayófor a fraction of the cost of replacing old PCs.

6. Donít depend on one part of your business for complete success

What worked for you last year might not work for you this year. If you have a service or product that has been working for you over the last three to six months? Perhaps itís time to shift your focus to that service or product to see what it can do for your business.

7. Go against the competition

Have you ever stopped to look at what your competition is doing? Have you ever thought about doing the exact opposite? Surprisingly, sometimes thatís the best thing to do.

8. Maintain service contracts

Think of your IT systems as the engine that runs your business. If you donít maintain the engine, the business will stop running smoothly. Thatís why itís important to maintain all of your service contracts that cover your hardware, software, and peripheral devices. Oftentimes, these contracts can be renewed remotely, making it easy for businesses to reduce business disruption.

9. Ease into new strategies or marketing platforms

Are you implementing a strategy or service that is no longer making you money? Donít do it anymore. The money and time you invest in something that isnít producing results can be better spent elsewhere. Consider investing that time and money into an emerging platform such as mobile advertising and see what happens.

10. Undertake constant research and remain vigilant

Businesses are always being watched and copied by others who are interested in improving upon your ideas and techniques. Your business is not immune from this. Itís just a matter of time until someone with a cheaper or better product hits the market, and the only way to protect yourself is to remain constantly proactive.

Understanding what long-term goals mean to your business on a daily basis will help you establish your short-term objectives. Your companyís goals will only be effective if you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and how you want to do it.

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