As 2015 draws to a close, is it now time to consider the state of IT in your business? Every successful business should consider a strategic plan addressing all aspects of their business and Technology should be a key part of that plan.
Most businesses that I deal with want IT within their organisations to work for them to drive efficiency and ultimately drive growth and profits. This is what IT should be about. Every step along the IT planning road should be taken with a keen eye on how the step is affecting efficiency and if that step has an end result that will ultimately lead to business growth.
From competitive advantage to customer engagement, IT can have a key role to play in improving your business. With the continuing improvement in internet connectivity and the ongoing evolution of cloud computing, below are some key areas where technology can improve your business and perhaps some of them will be right for your business in 2016.
Smartphones have become business necessities for owners and employees over the last few years. These devices offer opportunities for staying in touch when on the road and for responding to customer inquiries in a timely manner. The fact that you have improved internet speeds (such as 4G) on these devices means that you have access to the Internet, email and business applications in a small handheld device. In addition, text messaging and social networking (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) are other advances in communication that help keep small businesses connected to their customer bases and that also improve internal communication within the company.
Technology has freed businesses from the restrictions of print advertising when it comes to reaching new and existing customers. Internet marketing ranges from an informational website, to advertising on search engines, to online product sales. Email marketing is an effective and low cost method to reach a large group of people with a newsletter or with business updates. We are also seeing the emergence of mobile marketing that reaches people through text messaging and advertising on mobile applications. Mobile marketing also offers branded applications that tie customers into what is happening with the business in a fun and entertaining way.
Many small businesses now offer telecommuting (“working from home”) and flex time as benefits. Colleagues can stay in touch from different locations as well as using email, online collaboration tools and mobile computing devices. When out of the office, workers can share documents, convey information through presentations and have the same level of access to the office as if they were sitting at their own desk.
Businesses need to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of their operations and technology can help with this. For example, businesses can now print out marketing materials themselves rather than the traditional method of engaging with a professional print house. They can also provide customer service through email and online chat – though sometimes a phone call may be more efficient and productive than an email.
The ongoing developments in Cloud Technology means that the business owner and staff can have live access to company information when on the road or via remote working – which can allow for sales to be generated faster and more efficiently than may have been the case previously.
Technology is powerful, but keep the people element in mind and don’t spare on staff training on customer service techniques and the proper use of the technology. The key is to keep employees focussed – providing them with the right hardware and updated software to keep them working at peak effectiveness – using technology where appropriate and always with the goal of saving time.
If you’re interested in planning for growth using technology in 2016 contact us today for a free, no obligation onsite evaluation of your IT setup.