It’s not easy to plan for digital change. If we could predict what would happen in the future, MySpace might have taken up Facebook’s $75 million acquisition offer in 2004, and BlockBuster might not have “nearly laughed Netflix out of the room” when the streaming business asked it to buy it for $50 million. Technology is unpredictable, and that doesn’t make it easy to plan for.

With the likes of connected cars, virtual reality and drones appearing in the news everyday, the digitisation footprint follows us wherever we go. To stay in line with others in your industry, keeping on top of these relevant changes is important. But how do we do this?

Andy Allan, Owner of CAT Autokeys, explains his five tips for staying in the know…

Never Stop Learning

It’s easy to get stuck into the daily routine and become an expert at your job, but not your trade. Yet things will undoubtedly change, and if you’re not careful you can easily lose your lead – successful people are always learning.

Read everything you can about your industry online and use social media to your advantage to stay on top of the latest news and changes in your industry. You can also set up hashtags to follow, or create a list of influential people in your sector on Twitter.

Accept that you don’t know everything in your industry, and it will help you to embrace a new learning culture. Set aside a couple of hours a month to make sure that you’re fully on top of the latest updates and then you can plan out what this means for your business. It doesn’t have to be a massive time expenditure, a few hours can go a long way.

Network to Success

Connected people are successful, because relationships are powerful. When it comes to staying on top of digital trends, it’s not just what you know but who you know. Along with exchanging information, you can nurture long-term relationships, develop your skill set, improve your knowledge of the latest trends and meet prospects that might help your business development.

Get involved in industry alliances, standards bodies and networking events which can offer an entire community of professionals in your industry who you can talk to about trends, mutual challenges, and what they’re doing to combat this. One person might give you insight into a trend you hadn’t expected, another might have a solution for a problem you’re facing or help to understand a new customer trend.

Determine your Needs

Once you know the latest industry trends and technologies, it’s time to determine what your unique business needs are. You won’t need to apply all the new technologies to your business, but instead plan out an analysis of the needs of your customers, the expectations that new technologies could bring to your business, and what processes need boosting.

 Acknowledge your struggles and challenges you’re facing, and seek out technology that can help. Work out what your competitors are doing better than you, and see how you can adapt. If there is a benefit to a new technology in your sector, factor this into your analysis and create a roadmap to plan out when it would be implemented. Ultimately, you need to work out whether you can justify business value for digital changes.

Establish Resources

Set clear, ambitious targets that allow you to achieve digital disruption in your industry. Then, look at the resources that you need to launch the process. This doesn’t just mean the technology, but, depending on your business, you might need to invest in upskilling, nurturing a digital culture, and also factor in the time it will take to change, update or renew your current tools.

Technology is often expensive, because it provides so many benefits, so you may need to prioritise. Companies are estimated to invest more in technology across all of their business lines during 2019, so it’s key to budget plan effectively to deliver the best value to your business.

Never Make Assumptions

Don’t assume that once you have overhauled your configuration equipment, for example, that that’s the end for a few years – it’s a naive mindset to have. Keep learning, keep researching, keep networking and keep investing. Successful people are always learning and learning can help you to unlock new doors.

It’s rare to find a business not reaping the benefits of software and for a good reason; cutting-edge software is showing its worth in industries across the world. Digital transformation can boost processes, profits and people, and that’s why no industry will be left untouched by it.

But it’s hard to know how to plan for it, and that’s why you need a combination of ingredients to tackle the constantly changing digital environment. The ability to recognise your weaknesses is invaluable, relationship-building is powerful and education is priceless.