Ryan Cantor has advice for small businesses that lack a formal IT department on how to successfully undergo digital transformation within their organizations.
Cantor, chief product officer, overseeing program management and engineering at Thryv, the Grapevine, Texas-based producer of the Yellow Pages and other internet dictionaries, knows a thing or two about using technology to meet your goals. He joined Thryv after leading N2 Publishing’s product effectiveness and scaling improvement efforts. He’s had stints at hibu, Apple, AOL and Target.
Cantor spoke with StrategicCIO360 about listening to customers, managing automation software and the top three tech trends going forward.
A majority of small businesses don’t have IT departments—where does digital transformation come into play?
It’s staying as close to your customers as possible to understand their pains and needs. Automating the customer experience in a world that’s getting faster and more efficient every year. For small businesses that have customers who are trained in convenience, automating the technology and software can help SMBs better manage time, and take control of their business to be more successful with an integration of modern services to get the job done. Adapt with customers and ensure they are part of the transformation.
Where to innovate and push technology forward in preparation for times of crisis?
It’s important that strategies stay grounded in practicality. Behind the idea of technology and innovation is the thought of users’ pressure points and finding solutions to run with and invest into their business. During the pandemic, cashless and contactless payments were essential, and we find that to be a trend today. It’s taking the struggle and turning the negative into a positive, implementing resources and tools for customers while also offering convenience.
When talking to users, it’s not about the product and the technical side. It’s the human side of the challenges they face and understanding the business, how it runs and what will help build a better operation for tomorrow. Pushing technology forward in that capacity is rich.
How to manage automation software and reap the benefits?
The rewarding aspect is adoption; more so the engagement and getting the benefits from automation software. It’s true that SMB owners can build and run their business however they choose. In the end, convenience always wins.
Users can be working at different adoption levels in the digital transformation journey from point solutions to manual processing in spreadsheets or over email. The automation software meets customers where they are, customizing to satisfy comfort, optimizing and reducing offset costs, and ultimately delivering an experience to equally meet a business’s success in a modernized way that they never thought they could imagine.
What are the top three technology trends that everyone needs to be aware of?
This time and looking into the decade of 2020s is when local, independent small businesses shift to the cloud. As seen with enterprises, this is essential for small-to-medium sized businesses to stay relevant. Consumers depend heavily on their mobile devices and expect seamless service with automated settings and informational transparency.
Another trend is digital payment solutions and establishing payment processing with control and convenience. Customizing a platform for business users to accept payments and how their customers want to pay. Consumers’ payment preferences impact loyalty and purchasing decisions.
Lastly, easier consumer communication. The sharing of information and creating channels to reduce any missed or delayed interaction can tip the scale. In cases where business owners don’t know what’s working or not, a tool to capture all different methods of communication into a central location enables better organization and visibility into how a customer prefers communication tools—chat, email, direct message on social media. Peeling back limitations and creating options pays off.