Surf’s up, folks. Technology is driving a rising tide of market change for all of us, and I am surprised every day by those who still don’t have their eyes on the horizon. Are you prepping for the wave, or will it wash over you unexpectedly?

The technology tidal wave is changing some of the basic ways that business is done. It’s essential to prepare for these trends, because a crash in just one area could create a wipe-out for your business.

Most businesses used to be very hierarchical. You had a boss, your boss had a boss and so on. Today, we see more flat organizations, with teams that organize around particular projects and take control of their own goals. I’ve written before about the agile management system. It’s not for newbies or showoffs, but it is inevitable for businesses.

We have a Team Playbook that shows each member of the team how we do what we do, how we work with our clients, and how we support each other as a team, plus all the other legal fine print. We make decisions that support our culture, and we back that up with metrics that keep us informed of how we are progressing to our goals.

We can communicate better than ever due to technology. Consider email, text and instant messaging, as well as project management software that reports to keep us updated.  There is a whole sea of software solutions that allow business owners to sleep at night.

Technology liberates teams but also holds them accountable.  Its an expectation for team members younger than 40. Technology also shows your teams how different their lives can be. Employees expect flexibility and more autonomy than they did just a few years ago — but in return you can set up metrics, kanban boards or ticketing systems to verify work is done. Team members can be empowered to hold other team members accountable.

My prediction is that over time, there will be a mass exodus from command-and-control hierarchy to a more holistic, transparent, empowered economy where people operate in roles that allow them to showcase their strengths. This management style builds flexible organizations that can respond quickly to changing demands in the market.

Technology requires greater security

On the flip side of all that flexibility, technology brings many more possibilities for security breaches. In today’s world, security breaches are a commonplace tidal wave, and they are now considered just another business risk.

You need a twofold defense: Use the most secure technology available, and train your people well. Make sure you have strong passwords, and require your teams to change them regularly. If you have team members who work away from your office (and your secure network), make sure they understand how to keep your data and systems safe. There are so many people that just look the other way when I ask them if they know their network is secure.  Is that you?

Technology provides many opportunities: A new Pareto principle

You’re probably familiar with the Pareto principle. This is often lived out as a business rule of thumb like this: 80 percent of your time is spent on 20 percent of your customers.

In a modern twist, I can argue that 80 percent of your marketing and sales budget should be spent on marketing tools, sales software and a team to execute on marketing initiatives, and 20 percent on people closing the sale. Look at your marketing and sales spend and consider a reinvestment on a modern marketing strategy and an effective team to implement it. This is a way to use technology’s rising tide to float your boat.

Open your mind and start now. When you do, expect a variety of waves, some more challenging than others, for the next three to five years. Handle change iteratively, as it comes, learning from each wave and making progress toward your goal bit by bit. You’ll be in for a much rougher ride if you wait — take it now and you’ll be well-positioned to ride the wave that will overwhelm your competition in the future.

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