No matter your industry, no matter your clientele, no matter your size, in today’s world, every business uses technology to get things done. In this episode, we have a spirited discussion with CEO Tom Douglas about why it’s vital that every business leader recognize this fact, and how embracing technology is the key to outpacing your competition and creating sustainable success moving forward.
Speaker 1: Welcome to the JMARK Business Innovation Technology Experience.
Todd: Hey, welcome back to the Business Innovation Technology Experience. We have Thomas Douglas here, our CEO and the regular gang, and we are going to talk about something that we all kind of find passionate, and that is just the business of technology and the idea that no matter what business you’re in, whether you’re in manufacturing, healthcare, banking, just whatever it is, you rely on technology. You rely on the privacy and security of your data. You rely on technology for your communications. You rely on technology for the collaboration between your employees. It’s just integrated and in every single aspect of work life nowadays. So Tom, you coined this term at JMARK. What was going through your mind when you materialized this?
Tom: Well, as simply said the idea that in today’s world, every business is a technology business breaks down to the fact that there’s no business that can operate in today’s world without having the right tools and capabilities in technology to drive their business. So, whether it’s sales and you’re managing a CRM system or manufacturing and you’ve got an ERP or you’re working in accounting, and you’ve got to get invoices out the door or reconcile bank statements, and produce financial statements you’re relying on technology to do all of those things. And for any organization in today’s world to think for a second, “Well, I’m not in technology business.” They’re fooling themselves because if technology is taken away from those businesses, they stop, game over. And because of that, we have to bring the right tools, the right capabilities and technologies to the table that is specific to their industry, specific to their company that drives it forward.
And I said it with the intent of helping business owners and business leaders to get into the framework of embracing technology as a foundational component of their business. People are a foundational component breaking order sometimes there are foundational components. You have HR, you have accounting, you have these different things. And technology has always been a part of it, but it’s like the part of it when it goes away, short of people the business is done. And so, really embracing it. So, that from an attitude perspective, business owners and leaders are driving their organizations forward using and embracing the idea that they are a technology company too.
Todd: When you first mentioned this phrase to me, I liked it, but I wasn’t sold on it. And the reason I wasn’t sold on it was because you work with the sales consultants and you read sales books, and they will say, every business is a sale business. So, you read a marketing book and marketing consultants, and they will say, every business is a marketing business. And you’ve seen these, if you read enough business books. You’ll hear this phrase over and over and over again. It’s just, you pick your expert and that’s what type of business you are. And no matter what type of business you are. But the truth is that you’re right though. I mean, the more I thought about it, it is absolutely true. I mean, if technology goes down, I’m dead in the water. There’s not a lot I can do. I can pick up my phone and I can still do send emails on my phone I suppose, and still do things. But I mean, that’s technology. Exactly.
Tom: That’s technology. The reality of it is if you sell fruit on the side of the road, and you do anything besides a cash only business, you’re relying on technology to take debit and credit cards. You’ve got your phone, that’s plugged in and whether you’re using square or another app, you’re in the technology business, you’re using those tools in order to drive your business forward more and more in today’s world. If you’re selling fruit on the side of the road, you’re advertising it on social media and you’re posting somewhere else online. You’re using the technology to drive the outcomes you want for your business. I would be surprised if there was a business that existed today, they didn’t embrace some form of technology to make sure that their business is moving forward.
Speaker 2: Well, I was going to say, you took my example, Tom, with the fruits. I’m a contrarian type of person. So, as soon as you make a statement like that immediately, I’m thinking there’s got to be an example I can come up with and prove them wrong. And I haven’t. And of course the first thing that occurred to me was farmers. Farmers don’t use technology, but I have a cousin who runs a ranch up in Idaho and he uses technology. He uses GPS to mow the fields. He uses technology to track data on his milk cows to know the best times. He uses technology to track what crops are going to be projected to be the most profitable in the next year. And that’s an example of you think we’ll for sure farmers are still farming. Maybe their tractors are shinier than they used to be 50 years ago, but it’s entirely different even in that industry.
Tom: Absolutely. I know lots of farmers that don’t really have to be in their tractors anymore. They’ll take care of it themselves. In some cases, that’s exactly what they do in drones. And they’re testing the soil and using new pieces of technology and putting it into a data model. And then they’re consulting with these big data companies that specialize in farming to help them make better decisions in the future. Like you were talking about. It is a part of every single organization.
And again, it comes down to the attitude of the leaders in the business to me. And that’s why we want to make such a bold statement. When you recognize that you’re a technology company, even though you’re an attorney, even though you’re a CPA, even though you’re a farmer, you’re still in the technology business. When you embrace that, it’s like, “Well, if that’s the future, instead of me trying to fight it or just be complacent with it, how can I make that a lever in my business an innovation at a capability to out innovate my competitors, a leg up, if you will, in the marketplace.” So, recognize it for what it is, exploit it, use it and drive forward to that your business gets better outcomes.
Todd: You know, in thinking about this, if you’re dealing with anybody that is not embracing technology, they start embracing technology at the moment, they try to scale. At the moment they try to get bigger than they are. And I have a small piece of land and we have a few head of cattle and I joined some Facebook groups for cattle, and I joined some Facebook groups for small market farming and things like that. And it’s really interesting to see these people that, they’re in this very labor intensive environment, but they reach a point where it’s like, “You know what, does anybody have any software they use to plan out their crops? Does anybody have any software they use to keep track of injections and immunizations for cattle?” And you have questions like these and it’s at this stage it’s like they hit a point where they go, “You know what? I can only do so much myself. I can only use so much on paper and writing things down. I need a system. I need something to help me scale and maximize my labor intensive efforts to become better.”
And that’s what I find interesting. And no matter what businesses it is, like we’ve talked about, and we’re not picking on farming or cattle or anything like that, but that’s just an example of the very labor intensive environment. But the same is true for construction, for oil and gas. I mean, it goes across the breadth of every industry.
Tom: Absolutely. I think it’s one of the things that comes to mind that happened within our own organization Todd was, it come to a point where you can’t out work it. And so, you don’t have a choice, but to get innovative and look for other ways to solve the same problems with the same scale issues that you’ve had in the past. And so, when you hit that point and you realize that, “I can’t work any harder, I can’t work any more days. I can’t work any more hours, whatever it is.” Then It forces you to try to come up with the situations. What we hope occurs is just the opposite that we plant those seeds way before people have to and do it instead. So, when they choose to.
Speaker 2: As Todd was speaking, the thing that occurred to me is this idea that you just alluded to Tom of technology solving problems. And especially if JMARK, like that’s the word technology company. So, immediately whenever there’s a problem the thought process is there’s a technology out there that can help me solve this. And the thing that occurred to me when Todd you were talking and mentioning accountants or lawyers, people that are kind of in business for themselves, that I think it’s important to remember that human thinking has changed. And yeah, those of us at JMARK at a technology company might be ahead of the curve and immediately looking for technology solutions. But that is how everybody is beginning to think.
And if you’re an accountant, your competition, that’s 20 years younger than you, that has grown up with more technology than you ever did, that’s immediately how they think. There’s not even a step in between, “what can I do? Oh, I wonder if there’s an app.” There’s just immediately, “There’s an app.” And then they skip that any hemming and hawing about whether or not technology can help them. And you need to keep that in mind because that’s how they’re solving problems. And if you’re not keeping up, that’s the competition, that’s going to eat up your market space.
Todd: Yeah. The interesting thing too, is that scalability question happens over and over and over and over and over again. I mean, we’re a technology company and on the marketing side, we’ve worked the problem to death. And we finally come to a point where like, “Okay, we can’t do it this way anymore. We need a system, we need something to change and we will implement some new system or some new process that employs technology.” There’s so many different aspects that it’s like the proven process. You just keep moving, moving up, moving up, moving up and you reach a new milestone. You go, “Okay, what can we do now to what technology or what technology solutions can we implement to solve this other problem?” And you encounter problems you didn’t have when you were a 50 person company or a 20 person company, or a hundred person company, the problems change. But that’s the beauty of technology. Technology is so agile and it’s so broad that it can improve scalability. It can prove operations at just every size level.
Tom: Okay. I think that there’s two big points that came out of the last little section of conversation there. The first is, I mean, there’s a reason that Google is one of the most valuable companies in the world because nobody doesn’t know the answer anymore, or at least for very long. I mean, “Oh, is there a piece of software for that? Or how’s another business running, well, let me ask Google.” And there’s an answer. I mean, the amount of information and knowledge that is at our fingertips is infinite, literally. And so, as businesses in these young innovators come into an organization, which you were talking about, Dax, they’re always going to go because they grew up in the Google age that they never didn’t know the answer for very long, because they could validate it. In concurrent to that they didn’t have to remember knowledge for very long because they knew that if they ever needed to have that information again, they can just go and Google it and bring it back up.
It’s not like you had to walk away from academia with this vast amount of knowledge in your brain. You didn’t need to because you had it in your smartphone. And that mentality actually does a lot of things. And, and I’m sure that there’s people who specialize in that, that would have their own opinions. But what it does do is it creates a certain amount of, I’ll call it mental freedom, to focus on innovating, to focus on new and exciting things, to bring into the business so, that they do oftentimes out innovate the businesses that have been around for a really long time. And then the second, point that I think that they came out of that conversation is people are hitting these milestones and phases within the businesses that you were talking about, Todd, 50 persons and 75 and 100,you hit these things.
One of the values that mature managed service companies do, is they bring the capabilities to solve those problems with technology to the table, so that you’re not left alone, solving that by yourself. You’ve got a partner and say, “Okay, I’ve got this problem. I need to implement this HR solution, this ERP solution, this CRM solution. I need to move to a full blown deployment of Office 365 so that I can collaborate more effectively. How am I going to do that? I won’t work Facebook workplace. I’m want to make sure that my users in different parts of the country feel that they’re next to each other. How are we going to do that? Oh, Mr. Manager service provider, JMARK, I need your help to put these solutions together for me. No problem. We got your back.
Speaker 5: The first part of what you were talking about and what Dax brought up about the younger generation, got me thinking that it’s a very bad move to not embrace technology for that reason alone. And that these people are going to become a bigger percentage of your workforce more and more and more. And they don’t have patience for technology issues. The attention span is not there. And they want those answers as quick as they can google something. They want their technology to work.
Tom: Yeah. The expectation is the iPhone, right? It’s like Amazon changing the retail space. It’s no different. How often does it iPhone really break down? Not that often, unless you drop it. I mean, chances are it’s going to work every now and then you’re going to have a problem. But the expectation is 99.9% of the time your iPhone works exactly as expected. That is the new standard for how technology should operate in the future. And if you’re not designing the technology in that way, you’re designing it for 90%. You’re going to have some frustrated users that you’re going to have to navigate through. So, 100% agree.
Todd: You know, yesterday it reminds me, we were talking about morale and how technology plays a part in the morale of an organization. And we were talking about this idea of younger generations and that there’s so much value in how younger generations do think over older generations and that, they have to come together to produce these strategies, but on that same playing field if we think about the future of work, the future of work is absolutely nothing what it looked like a year ago. We’ve seen over the course of the last nine months or so, digital transformation has increased in at exponential speed. We’ve seen a survey after survey, after survey that has increased the number of people that want to work from home. The [inaudible 00:16:16] keeps going up, the last survey I saw by buffer said that 99% of people surveyed want to work from home, which is pretty much everybody. But whether you believe it or not, the point is that business leaders want to create success.
They want to create organizational success. They want to create individual success. They want to create productivity and they want to create good collaboration and communication. And a big part of that, especially now and this idea of working from home, is technology, video technology and the communication platforms you’re going to use. And how do you get multi-generations to embrace technology that they all feel comfortable with? We’re moving into a world where it used to be, that you could operate. If you really wanted to work extra hard and not make a lot of profit, you could operate without a lot of technology. And now we’re moving into a world where you embrace technology, or you go work for someone who does.
Tom: Yeah. They’re either going to put you out of business, buy you try to, I think you’re exactly right. When it comes to the shifts that we’ve seen in the last nine months-ish, as it relates to the digital transformation, we talked about this in the symposium the other day that these shifts will never be undone. Like the new normal is we’re going to make a zoom call. Zoom has gone from a noun to a verb like Google did and that won’t ever be undone. Are you going to zoom? Are you going to get on the zoom? Are you going to zoom? Call me? I mean, it’s a thing. Are we doing it on zoom? I mean, it is all of these things that have emerged in that environment. And, it’s funny.
It’s like, are you zooming me? I mean, it’ll come out and in the days. So, those shifts just drive home how important the foundation of technology is to every business, because it used to be that you would go down the street, you would drive for a couple of hours or you would fly across the country and you would have that face-to-face client meeting. And now the expectation is that you’re going to jump on some sort of a video call, collaborate about the problem and solve it. We literally, probably from JMARK, I would venture to guess that we, as a company are on 300 video calls a day between the people in the organization, maybe more.
Todd: Is he talking about me or?
Tom: It has absolutely changed everything. And while most businesses take that for granted, there is a strategy that needs to go behind it. You have to plan the bandwidth, you have to play on the capabilities. You have to have the computers that can do a good job. You have to make sure the security is in place so, that it just goes on and on and on in terms of what it means. And so, it just goes to show one more time that every business now has to have the technology inside of it to being successful. And if it’s not done with intention, that’s when the security breach has happened, that’s when bad experiences happen. And we all know that that leads to turnover in employees. And that’s the last thing we want to deal with right now.
Todd: And what I think is so important with this is different than at any other time in technology history is that its human behavior that’s changing, and you just can’t undo that. COVID has been a massive kick in the butt to change the behavior. And it kicked us in the butt. And then we went, “Ooh, I like this.” I pick up the phone, I had to call a the doctor earlier. And in my mind, I’m thinking, “Should I zoom? Should I Webex, Oh yeah, I need to call. It’s like, I got to phone them. And I was at the doctor’s office a few weeks ago. And they said they were going to fax something or fax our form to the office. And then I was like, “Fax?.” I mean, secure email. I mean, I don’t know, let me take a picture it’s faster, right?
But we’re moving into this world where behavior has changed. And it’s not just about remote work. It’s about, I mean, restaurants have to embrace this. And in order to embrace the new normal of how people order, delivery and shipping have to embrace technology, mail order businesses and just retail businesses have to embrace technology in order to get their products out and deliver them in a way and this is true for every single type of business. And like you said, Tom, it’s, it’s not going to be undone. And there is nobody that is more prepared for the shift in JMARK, please come to our website at jmark.com, check us out. We have been shifting and adapting to technology changes and well changes for years. And we can help you adapt to what the new and hopefully better normal for you as well. So see you soon.
Speaker 1: Thank you for attending this podcast. We hope it has been informative and help convey that at JMARK, we are people first and technology second. To learn more and discover additional content relevant to your business. Please visit us online at jmark.com or at LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You may also call us at 8-4-4, 44 JMMARK. Thank you for your time. And we look forward to seeing you again,