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Technology Challenges to Tackle in 2014

Technology has been changing at breakneck speeds in recent years, and keeping up with those changes can be a challenge for any business. In our recent MDM industry outlook survey, we asked our readers what their biggest technology challenges are going into the new year.

While some of the challenges are perennial, such as the cost of upgrading systems, many of the issues identified relate to the new technologies that have emerged in recent years that have changed how people expect business to be done.

Here are some of the top technology challenges identified by respondents to the 2013 MDM Industry Outlook Survey, sponsored by NetSuite:

Synchronization of systems and data: More data than ever is available to distributors. But making those systems – and the data found within them – play nicely together can be a challenge. And even if they do play well together, how do you combine and comb through all that data to get something useful?

Technology costs: Upgrading technology – whether hardware or software – requires investment. It definitely costs money to stay on the front lines in the new technology-driven market. And to stay competitive, you have to make sure you have the right technology in place to achieve your goals. That doesn't mean you have to break the bank and get platinum upgrades on everything. Carefully evaluate what your actual needs are and what you need to get there.

The right talent in the right place at the right time: We all know that technology isn't just about the hardware and software; the right people have to be in place to make sure that everything is working how you expect it to work. Today's challenge is that there are more options on how to manage this, as well. Do you need an internal IT department, or can you outsource those functions? Does your software provider offer support that can fill some of the need?

Keeping up with changing customer and business needs: Today it's e-commerce; tomorrow, who knows? The challenge is making sure that you don't have to completely throw out your entire system every couple years and start over. One way to address this challenge is to make sure your system is scalable for a growing customer and product base. Another option is using cloud-based programs that include upgrades in the contract price. No single solution will meet everyone's needs.

Getting everyone on board: One of the most common challenges identified in the survey is getting buy-in from employees. People are creatures of habit and asking them to change how they do their jobs – especially if they think the way they're doing it already is working – can be difficult. Getting input from the affected employees before changes are made can help.

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