You’ve heard about the big technology hitters like Netflix and Uber shaking up their respective industries and disrupting, if not outright destroying, their more traditional competitors. But how can you be sure that the next big change won’t be within your own industry—and at your own company’s expense?

Major industry changes are happening in all sectors at a faster pace than ever before, and these changes are more significant than we have ever seen. How can you keep up with business changes in your own industry? What about new trends and technologies? What are your competitors doing? What are they trying to do? What about the competitors that might come out of nowhere to disrupt your market or the entire industry? In the coming weeks we’d like to explore some case studies of specific industries that have experienced major upheavals due to new companies and startups implementing and innovating new technology to dominate the market. First, however, we want you to understand how critical it is to be aware of these far-reaching changes and how your business must adapt to stay relevant and successful.

Knowing Your Industry

There are many core indicators to anticipate where the next big technology innovations will appear in your industry and how they will affect you. What overall trends are happening today in your industry? What kinds of disruptions have different industries seen? What changes might be in the works? To counteract and keep up with these changes and avoid falling to the next Netflix or Uber, do you have a trusted peer group to identify trends or opportunities and what might be coming next for your industry? “Be prepared” is probably the most important mindset you can have in order to be fully cognizant of the state of technology in your industry. Be sure you are spending enough time working ‘on’ your business, not just ‘in’ your business. Your own industry knowledge as well as that of others in your peer group will provide invaluable insight that will enable you to be a trendsetter in your field and avoid being blindsided by “the next big thing.”

Your IT Budget

Your budget will be among your most important tools as you implement technology to keep up with or transform your industry. Determining where your budget lies in respect to your industry average will be a good indicator of your position in preparing to take advantage of technology and make it a game-changer for you. If technology and automation are booming in your industry but your budget is well below the industry average, it is time to rethink and reprioritize it in order to catch up. If technology seems slow to revolutionize operations in your industry, upping your budget to above the industry average will give you a jump-start in innovation and optimization. And it is indeed important to look at the average within your industry rather than in business as a whole, because amounts will vary greatly between healthcare, finance, media, and more. When you are ready to reevaluate your budget, check out our article for tips to personalize your IT budget and make it work for your organization.

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Security

Another to keep in mind as you look at implementing IT initiatives to jump-start your operations is security. While moving more and more systems and data online and to the cloud is becoming easier and more efficient every day, data breaches are also becoming more costly and more catastrophic, with hackers easily able to gain access to thousands if not millions of customer or employee records in one fell swoop. This can happen in many ways: brute force hacking, phishing, infiltration through a third-party, and more.

Thus, it is essential to identify what security risks exist for your business and your customers, as well as the impact that a data breach or other security incident may have. From there, implement a mitigation strategy to spot any gaps in your coverage, monitor your records and systems, and add safeguards necessary to prevent or react to a data breach. Remember, you want to be in the headlines for dominating your industry, not for exposing customer information like Target, Home Depot, and other victims of large-scale data breaches.

Regulatory Compliance

Also important to security is regulatory compliance. What regulations are in place for your industry? What optional certifications or industry guidelines exist that can give you more credibility and security in your IT initiatives? If you are lucky, your industry may not have many requirements, but some sectors (especially finance and healthcare) have FIPS, PCI, HIPAA, FINRA, and more confusing and constantly changing standards. Knowing how to stay abreast of all these requirements as you use technology to augment your processes, achieve your business goals, and surpass your competition is essential.

Moving Forward

Change is a constant today, and every business owner must actively work to keep pace with business changes, technology changes, regulatory changes, security practices, and more. This includes investing the time and resources to stay on top of it all, making sure you have a peer group to share and collaborate with, and having key personnel in your company or key vendors (who really need to be key partners) that are accountable for different components of your IT strategy. This blog series will continue to take a deeper dive into a number of industries and explore the areas discussed above, and much more. Check back soon for a look at the shakeup of industries and make sure you or an executive level resource you trust is connecting your IT strategy to your business strategy.