We’d be overwhelmed with the “Wow!” factor if we knew about all of the technology innovation taking place in Idaho. Hearing stories of entrepreneurs and established companies embracing tech and using it to grow a business is inspiring.
In light of this month’s Business Insider theme, I’ll share the Better Business Bureau’s approach to using technology as an innovation driver. Hopefully, our ideas will spark ideas of your own, or — more importantly — you’ll share innovative ways you develop and use technology.
The Better Business Bureau serving the Snake River Region has a tremendous team of people helping businesses and buyers win in the marketplace. We use technology to get the job done as a local nonprofit.
We believe businesses win when operated to BBB’s Standards for Trust: advertise honestly, tell the truth, be transparent, honor promises, be responsive, safeguard privacy and embody integrity. Winning means attracting and keeping top talent and customers and being more profitable. We believe a business wins when it’s more efficient because it operates in a trustworthy environment.
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Buyers win when they have solid information to make good buying decisions, protecting money and identity along the way.
Here is one of the technological advances made in our office, thanks to a great team of people who are willing to try something new:
Scam Tracker. A public thank you to my good friend Brice Sloan, an entrepreneur in Boise, who built a beta version of a geographic scam tracking database with me at a restaurant table over lunch. We used open-source software and tested the product in our office, capturing location data from people calling BBB to report scams. The result was a map on a web page where the user can click on a point and learn more about the specific scam targeting a victim. Within weeks, we offered Scam Tracker to 14 other BBBs in the U.S. for testing. Within months, Scam Tracker was moved off the open-source platform. It is now custom-built and serves the entire North America BBB system. See for yourself at https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/snakeriver.
Here’s what I learned through the process:
Get help. The experience proved the value of surrounding myself with people who are smarter than me. Brice knew about open-source platforms. He asked good questions and helped me think through options.
Start. The product was nowhere near perfect when we rolled it out internally. Get a minimally viable product up and running as soon as possible. Don’t worry about it being perfect.
Be flexible. We tested it first internally. We quickly rolled it out to other offices to test, then made it available nationwide. Through the process, we were flexible to try new things. People had to be flexible as they added a few steps to existing processes to enter data in Scam Tracker.
Be persistent. Technology and innovation will die if someone (or a group of people) doesn’t relentlessly push it forward.