It’s indisputable that technology has revolutionised the way we do business. In the last twenty years alone, we have seen a huge change, with the widespread adoption of the Internet, e-commerce, e-marketing, smartphones, apps, mobile payment systems … and so much more.
But has that boost in technology led to a corresponding boost in profit? Or has it just introduced more ways to waste time and spend money?
Happily, I can confirm that technology is a major driver of business profits. Here are some of the ways in which it can help your business.
Six technologies to help you make more money
Here is a list of innovations you might want to implement in your business:
- Document management systems (going paperless)
- Electronic workflow
- Multiple monitors
- “Cloud” computing
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software
Let’s take a closer look.
1. Document management systems (going paperless)
Gone are the days when banks of filing cabinets were needed to store reams of documents and papers. If you thought microfiche was a massive improvement, then digitization will make you giddy. With bespoke databases, digital documents and email, you need never file a sheet of paper again.
There are significant benefits to going paperless, including:
- Elimination of storage space – with no paper copies to store, you reclaim all that space.
- Increase in productivity – documents may be retrieved more quickly and shared more easily.
- Reduction in expenses – less storage space and equipment needed, less time taken to retrieve data.
- Ability to work remotely – as documents can be shared electronically, people don’t need to be in the same physical space to view, share and discuss them.
- Better customer service – people don’t need to sit on hold while someone trots off to find the paperwork; it’s all at their fingertips (via a keyboard)
- Protection of documents – provided everything is properly backed up, your documents are fully protected, even in the case of fire or flood.
- Happier team members – easier access to the documents they need equals less day-to-day hassle.
It’s also worth mentioning the environmental impact, especially in these days of corporate responsibility. If you’re looking at ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your business, this would make a big contribution.
In fairness, most offices achieve a kind of hybrid system, with some paper storage still needed, but as time goes on you can expect that to reduce more and more. It’s also worth mentioning that if you have a lot of existing paper documents that you need to keep copies of, then you’ll need to plan to have them digitized as part of your “going paperless” project.
2. Electronic workflow
Workflow is the sequence of steps needed to complete a task. For example, A handles the initial enquiry and records the details, which then go to B, who completes her tasks then passes them on to C, who does his bit then sends them back to B for approval, then finally they go to D, for completion.
This can mean passing physical documents back and forth and passing on information via informal chats. All of that means work can go missing.
If, however, things are digitized and handled electronically, then nothing should be lost and everything should be recorded. It’s efficient and acts as a safety net.
3. Multiple monitors
If a member of staff has to compare several documents, then it’s possible to link up multiple monitors so they can have them all visible at the same time, rather than having to toggle between them on one screen. It’s just like having all the papers on your desk – except you can’t lose them!
A web portal is a single point of access for information. It might be your website, aimed at clients and prospects, or an intranet, providing information to staff – for example a dashboard provided to management. They’re a great gateway to the information and data people need.
5. “Cloud” computing
With cloud computing, instead of storing data on a PC or server on your own premises, it’s held on a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet.
There are significant benefits to being in the cloud, including:
- Savings on investment – you don’t need to buy expensive hardware and software to store and manage data.
- Savings on costs – cloud computing shifts a large portion of your IT costs from a capital outlay to a regular operating expense.
- Unlimited access to data – you can access your data from anywhere in the world, provide you have an Internet connection.
- Scalability – you can add users/programs/applications on an as-needed basis, allowing you to adjust your system for seasonal peaks and troughs.
- Speed of access – applications are infinitely quicker, due to the capacity of the host’s larger operating systems.
- Security – data is backed up (in real time) and stored in multiple secure locations. The threat of having your servers stolen, subject to natural catastrophe such as fire or flood, or being otherwise compromised, goes away.
6. Customer relationship management (CRM) software
CRM software helps you keep track of all your customer data. This has two main benefits:
- You can sell more to existing customers – you have all their data at your fingertips and have already established a relationship with them; that makes it easier both to upsell and to sell them new things.
- You can target new customers – by analysing the data you hold on existing customers, you can find people like them and target them in marketing activity.
Not sure where to begin?
If the benefits of this sound great but the execution feels a bit daunting, get in touch to see how we can help. A bit of advice and guidance can go a long way!