Many economists are predicting the GFC will not end soon. In fact many predict the global economy will not start to return to it’s bullish nature until after 2020.
What does this mean for SME’s? Generally speaking, businesses will look to strip unnecessary costs and look for business productivity gains.
Technology is one of the most useful tools for achieving cost savings and/or productivity gains, where applied sensibly and with focus and measurement.
Today, I want to share just a few ways you can use technology to improve productivity in your business: Automation, Mobility and Anywhere/Anytime, Communication and Business Intelligence.
If you can automate it, you can save yourself time and money. Leveraging technology and process to automate tasks, allows your human capital time to be maximised and one of the most expensive (direct and indirect) costs of any business is their people.
Automating business processes that operate within and across your functions will allow for faster and less error prone task execution. It allows you to invest time in your people where it matters most and adds value to your bottom line. This goes for anything from managing HR processes, to processing sales, processing payroll and managing your supply chain.
Make sure your business applications and systems are doing as much work for you as they can.
Mobility and Anywhere/Anytime
Mobility is experiencing renewed energy and strong growth, in part due to tablet and slate devices like the Apple iPAD and the Samsung Galaxy and rapid growth in mobile applications. Australia is implementing the National Broadband Network over the coming years and this adds to the usability of the mobile applications and supporting devices.
Businesses are using this technology to stay closer to their customer and develop more productive and fruitful relationships. The ability to have instantaneous access to timely information makes dealing with your customers much more effective and productive. Customers also benefit from a more real-time service oriented experience with you and your business.
If you’re not sure how to take advantage of this evolutionary advancement, there are some simple steps you can take. Investigate what business applications and workflows could be extended to allow your field force to be out with your customer and look for ways to extend information out to your customer for self-service productivity opportunities.
To quote Peter Drucker; “What gets measured, gets managed.”
When it comes to Information Technology systems and applications, they are great for processing and storing vast amounts of data. This raw data can be used to create invaluable information used to measure what’s most important to your business and manage it effectively.
Integrated systems and applications are used to source and report on accurate business intelligence and produce insightful information. Effective and productive decision making is significantly easier when the information presented to you is accurate, timely and appropriate. Moreover, having a dashboard view of the key metrics in your business is a valuable too, it gives you immediate visibility into how the engine room is running. Knowing how the engine room performs against expectations, provides you with the opportunity to address problems before they become significant issues, tweak key elements in the business to extract improved productivity and improve bottom line profitability.
Enhancing staff communication and collaboration capabilities allow them to serve customers better and improve your business productivity.
Solid tools and applications are critical to embrace improved communication and collaboration. An effective intranet platform will allow better sharing of tasks, information and knowledge which promotes re-use and productivity gains.
Communication includes voice and video. Technological enhancements have evolved into platforms and toolsets, now referred to as Unified Communication. Unified Communication gives you and your staff the capability to bring multiple modalities of communication under one system and lets you use the most effective communication tool for the each particular purpose. e.g., with the click of a button you can send an email, fire off an instant message, make a voice call, check on a co-workers availability or open up a video call experience.
Many Small and Medium businesses are finding that Unified Communication is a productivity enhancer worthy of serious consideration.
In summary, a word of caution…don’t just invest in technology for technology’s sake.
As business conditions remain tight, boosting your business productivity and shaving off un-needed costs will become even more important to survive and thrive. Technology, when combined with appropriately factored people and process offer significant benefits in these areas.
As with every investment, what suites others, might not suit you and there’s only so many strategic investments that can be executed with limited resources. A well considered business case with Return on Investment review will go a long way to evaluating the investment options and ensuring your receive your expected benefits and outcomes out of your technology investments.