Posted on 1 April, 2016  |  2 min

By Mark Estall, CEO and co-founder of 9 Spokes.

Most people assume that the biggest disruption for any business is technology. That assumption can be misleading and can potentially lead you down the wrong path. In today's marketplace, the main factor influencing your business is your customer and I'll tell you why.

You can adapt, adjust and even take advantage of new technologies but if you lose sight of your customer and what they want, business can become very tough, very quickly.

As a small business owner, you must remember that the success of your business is based on the behaviour and consumption of your customers. I have seen many businesses that have been created by smart people with great ideas, who forget that validation of their idea is not based on their own opinion. It's the customer's view of your business ideas, products and services that determines your success.

The way customers consume has changed dramatically in the last five years. Today, the market moves very quickly - customers obtain information about products and services from many different places and even a small shift in thinking now spreads at viral speeds.

This is especially true when it comes to customer pain points. These pain points are usually the reason why customers become vocal. It's imperative that you equip your business to capture this feedback, and action it quickly. By doing so, this helps your business stay relevant, informed and agile in this disruptive environment.

Business owners that have immediate and reliable insights about their customers' behaviour will gain a sustainable competitive advantage. To gain these critical customer insights, business owners need to access rich data from their business from anywhere, anytime. This allows them to be responsive to the changing customer needs by analysing and understanding what's driving their behaviour and consumption patterns.

Business owners should worry less about technology disrupting their business and more about understanding how technology can support their decision-making. This will allow business owners to keep an eagle eye on the number one asset – their customers.