07 Aug 2017
3 min read
Ananta Saurabh is the chief operating officer at Kantipur Digital Corp and one of the cofounders at M&S WORXpro. In his role as a mentor at the Udhyami Seed Camp, Saurabh provided valuable insights to the participating entrepreneurs on decisions having to do with the use of technology in a business, and helped them figure out how to harness the power of technology to enhance business processes. Saurabh is looking to assist more entrepreneurs participating in the Udhyami Seed Camp’s Tech edition, which is being organised from August 25 to August 30 by STARTUPSNepal.
In this lightly paraphrased version of Saurabh’s interview with VMAG’s Mohit Pradhan, Saurabh talks about why it’s imperative that businesses start adopting technology, and how they can use technology to their advantage.
The need for technology in a business
With new technological discoveries being made almost every day, workplaces the world over have undergone countless changes. Technology is used in every field of work, but its presence in the business world has been especially pivotal.
In the business world, technology has played a significant role in making the workforce more efficient and orderly. Businesses that adopt new technologies have the upper hand when it comes to communication, coordination, security and managing storage space. Businesses that fail to adopt new technology are bound to fall behind, especially if their competitors start going the tech route. Business environments the world over are highly dynamic, and technology is one of the reasons why they’re so. Therefore, businesses must keep up with technology if they want to keep up with the competition.
Technology and unique selling point
Businesses that enhance their work by using technology have countless opportunities to explore and create new products. By keeping themselves updated about the latest technology, businesses can optimise their market plans to drive sales. Moreover, it’s not just about optimising a business; technology can also create possibilities for starting new types of businesses.
For instance, Oho! Servicing, one of the startups at Udyami Seed Camp, hopes to open an auto-repair shop run by an all-women workforce. They believe that by having an all-women auto-repair shop, female clients will feel more comfortable while availing of the services at the workshop than they would at a repair shop full of men. Although Oho! Servicing already has a unique selling point, they can still boost their business by using technology to create, say, a user-friendly interface in the form of an app that will allow their customers to check on the progress of their vehicles being repaired. Their unique selling point, complemented by their use of technology, would surely put Oho! Servicing in a better position than other auto-repair shops in town. That said, you also have to know what type of technology works for your kind of business setup. The same exact progress-checking feature used by Oho! Servicing might not work too well for large auto-repair companies. Well-established businesses must consider how the employment of new technology will affect their business.
Outsourcing software development
But developers with the required skillset to produce apps can be expensive, and difficult to find. The best option would be to outsource the technology. Several business firms here can already develop any kind of software. Thus, rather than hiring purely tech experts, and then making sure the employee is comfortable with your business environment, and keeping them satisfied with their job, it’s far easier to coordinate with another business to get the desired technology.
Embedding technology into startups
Startups are usually established without much resources at their disposal. Compared to their established competitors in their industry, startups are bound to face challenges when it comes to attracting customers or selling their products. This is where creativity comes in handy. Embedding technology into their workflow is one way for startups to compete with their established counterparts and boost their growth in a competitive market.
That said, you have to be wary of going overboard. While many startups understand the need to use technology to their advantage, some people want to use sophisticated tech products wherever and whenever possible—whether or not it is required. Use of technology should be need-based. For example, a computer-based web-application may not be useful to a person wanting to start an agri-business. It would make more sense to use a mobile-based application, as the target group in this case—farmers—undoubtedly has more access to mobile phones than computers or laptops. One should always consider various key factors that affect the business, and embed technology accordingly.
For tech-based startups
It is imperative to consider the market demand, business viability and the core strengths of your business before investing in a tech idea. TechGenX, a startup comprising engineers who teach robotics at schools, had planned to produce electronic wheelchairs using their research and knowledge of engineering and robotics so that people wouldn’t have to purchase expensive wheelchairs from abroad. However, this plan had a few problems. TechGenX’s work processes resembled that of a research firm; their work structure was more suitable for providing research data to other wheelchair-manufacturing firms than for building wheelchairs themselves. Startups must therefore consider the developmental stages of their company and also their workforce before deciding to build such products.
Recognising technology’s duty in business
Startup founders mustn’t get confused about whether or not their startup falls in the tech sector, especially when they are working closely with technology. Engineers for Nepal, for example, is a startup that hopes to assemble a team of different types of engineers and develop an online service so that people have easier access to engineers. This startup will have to understand that they are not a technology company but one that provides engineering services through technology. The team’s engineers may work in the tech sector, but the business firm itself is not creating technology. As for startups developing videogames, they have to understand that they aren’t tech startups; they are in the entertainment industry.
(Photos by Srijana Bhatta)