Technology conversations are everywhere — every conference, publication and even your inbox. I hear brokers feeling inundated with information from tech companies, much of it scare-tactic marketing. Yes, receiving swarms of information is overwhelming, but ignoring it isn’t helping your business.

Clients may not be asking you about technology today, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be interested under the right circumstances.

No one knew they needed an iPhone or iPad until Apple told them they did. And suddenly everyone needed them (950M+ sold to date). Then all tech companies offered alternative solutions in similar varieties.

The same has happened in benefits: Zenefits has told employers they need technology to manage their people operations, and employers are agreeing in droves. Zenefits may or may not be their preference, but that isn’t the point; employers are discovering new ways to better manage their tedious tasks and liking it.

Agencies tend to be very hands-on with their clients and don’t want to lose the personal interactions and relationships on which they’ve built their businesses. Many fear technology is going to replace them, so they hold on tighter and refuse to budge.

Also see: “Why ‘free’ is a terrible business model.”

Technology should not replace you, but instead help you develop efficient systems so you can have better, less transactional interactions and create a better client experience. Benefits/HR technology has established a new normal, and using it or not, technology is influencing your agency.

Evaluate to make the right decision

Create a plan and begin taking action. Pretending clients don’t want it is simply an excuse to not do the hard work. Weigh technology as an integrated part of your business plan rather than just adding to your P&L:

  • What is your purpose as an organization? (e.g., helping businesses attract and retain quality employees)
  • What is your core value proposition? (e.g., providing services to successfully manage and engage employees)
  • Who is your target client?
  • What are their challenges and needs?
  • How can you help them with needs that fit within your core value proposition?

Also see: “Marketing efforts that send the wrong message.”

Any technology solution should be for a defined purpose and solve legitimate business issues; otherwise it’s just a burden. It doesn’t need to be the most popular, or expensive, or have the most features. It needs to solve core issues and be a solution everyone is willing to use. Before you buy, do a final, critical evaluation:

  • Are we investing for the right reasons? Base on core capabilities and target client needs.
  • Are we prepared for the new technology? Determine necessary changes.
  • Are our clients prepared for it? Must make their roles/operations easier.

It’s OK to have anxiety about technology. It’s cold and we’re in a people business. Our Q4i clients are obsessed with serving their clients and having strong personal connections, and they’re also embracing technology solutions to improve efficiencies. They’re not giving up the personal — just becoming more strategic with clients and more valuable. Use technology as an investment in your future to ensure your place as the feared competitor in your market.
Keneipp is a partner and coach at Q4intelligence, driving agency transformation. Learn more at q4intel.com. Reach her at wendy@q4intel.com, on LinkedIn, or Twitter @WendyKeneipp.

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