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Why Technology is Useful – but only in the right hands 

by Maria Zampini for gardencenter magazine

March 11, 2014

When I googled the definition of technology, I found it explained as “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, esp. in industry.” I also found it more simply defined as, ‘technology is a vehicle to deliver the information to the target audience’.

That’s all fine and dandy but first things first; I guess you’d have to know who your target audience is, don’t you? Only then can you know if utilizing a new technological product or service will help you accomplish your strategic business plan goals as well as meeting and exceeding the needs of your customers. But I suppose that means you have to have a business plan and a firm understanding of your customer’s needs too. Wow, nothing is ever easy is it?

Technology is reality. It is progress. I always utilize the quote “things must change to say the same” because it’s true. And quite often it is technology which helps your business to either maintain status quo or elevates it to the next level. As much as it is human nature to resist change, IGCs today must push themselves to find new and improved technology that will enhance their business differentiation strategy.

As we all know there are followers and there are leaders in this world. Those who are leaders, risk takers if you will, are not afraid to go out on a limb because there is where the fruit is. And whether a piece of technology is something little (like a garden app to make employees a better salesperson) or big (such as a new POS computer system) they have the vision to see its potential value to their business. They’ll be ahead of the bell curve. And by the time their competitors catch up, they’ll be on their way up to the top of the next bell curve.

Theoretically a salesperson pitching a new piece of technology should provide not only the facts about their product but also give you the benefits of why not only your business must have this item but why the end consumer will benefit, too. And if they don’t, you need to ask for them to tell you why their technology is tangibly different, and how it is going to positively affect your bottom line helping you and your customers. Ask them for testimonials from peers in the same industry as you and make an effort to talk to those references.

According to Microsoft Founder and Technology Advisor Bill Gates, “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.” My takeaway from that quote is no matter what piece of technology you are utilizing, its success or failure is directly linked to the humans involved, not necessarily the piece of equipment itself.

I mean, how many times have you heard the saying, “garbage in, garbage out?” If the information input is inaccurate then the information it spits out will also be inaccurate. And if you’re given a new tool to utilize, if you’re not trained properly to use it, how effective is it really?

I consider myself among the risk takers in life. But I also know from experience I tend to go with my gut feeling and not always do all the investigative homework I should (so un-Virgo of me).

Technology can be enticing because it is shiny and brand new. But be careful not to be blinded by the light.

Before investing dollars, perform your due diligence and be sure you make a plan to institute and utilize said technology because if you don’t, you may end up with a brand new dust collector sitting in the corner.

Maria Zampini is president of Upshoot LLF and Director of Plant Development and Ornamental Program Manager for the HGTV HOME Plant Collection.

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