Businesses are only as smart as their technology
Advancements to technology have completely reshaped businesses in all industries by allowing them to work smarter, faster and in a more streamlined fashion. Almost any business initiative can now be enhanced using technology and the demand to keep up is constantly growing.
In this article, we look at the advantages of technology in the workplace, the potential risks of not embracing technology and examples of smart tools that all businesses should be using.
The only constant is change
It wasn’t too long ago when companies were bound by their location, relied on paperwork and had to be in the same room in order to communicate with each other. The past 20 years have been revolutionary to the fundamental ways businesses operate. From automation to smart communication tools, technology has grown rapidly and this is because it is constantly evolving.
We have already seen what can happen to a company when it doesn’t keep up with digital advancements. Take Blockbuster for example. That was a huge, well-known and loved brand in the ‘90s and was ultimately forced to file for bankruptcy in 2010 because it couldn’t compete with new players such as Netflix.
Back then Netflix wasn’t the online streaming service we all know now. It simply worked in a smarter way than Blockbuster, by sending movies out to the customers and working on a fixed subscription fee rather than a per-movie-charge. This offered two clear advantages over Blockbuster — you didn’t have to go to a store to get your movie and you got a whole month of unlimited rentals for a fixed price.
Of course the most logical thing for Blockbuster to do to compete would have been to offer a similar subscription package with unlimited rentals. However, a significant amount of their revenue was generated through late fees (around $800 million in 2000.) This revenue was so high that the company believed it would have been impossible to match based on an unlimited rental subscription. Blockbuster did eventually decide to launch Blockbuster Online in 2004, but by then it was already years behind Netflix.
There is a clear lesson that businesses can take from Blockbuster and that is if they want to stay relevant and competitive in the digital landscape then they need to be willing to adapt in order to keep up with the pace of change and innovation. Ignoring workplace trends or being slow to implement new technology gives your competitors a huge advantage when it comes to getting ahead and filling gaps that you haven’t.
Technology benefits the whole business
The main reason why technology exists is to make our lives easier. Adding technology to your business strategy offers a great deal of business benefits — we’ve outlined a few of these below.
Increased productivity and efficiency
Automation allows you to streamline repetitive processes, which frees up valuable time for your workforce to focus on other tasks at hand. Providing your employees with access to tools and technology they need to do their jobs faster and easier means they will be more efficient, engaged, and happier as a result.
Happy employees are also more likely to stay loyal to the company long-term rather than going to work for the competition, which also saves you turnover and retraining costs.
Organised and smart procedures
Whilst many of us pride ourselves on keeping organised, others can fall short. Technology significantly helps save time and does a lot of the heavy lifting for us. For example, moving from paperless to digital saves people hours digging through paperwork to find what they need. Sales can also be completed much quicker when you’re no longer waiting around for postal contracts to be delivered, signed and then returned. Modern workplaces are utilising smart technology such as the cloud, where important documents and information can be stored safely and accessed at any time.
The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the impact of modern communication tools as people turned to solutions such as Zoom and MS Teams to connect with each other. Smart technology has allowed us to connect with people across the globe and this was accelerated during the pandemic as businesses were forced into remote working within a very short space of time. These tools have led to many organisations realising they could still have smooth communication even when they were countries apart — something that was quite alien to a lot of businesses before the pandemic.
The power of remote working tools has also led to many companies allowing remote working on a permanent basis. Social media giant Meta is a great example of this, having allowed their employees to work from home permanently since June 2021. Not only offering more flexibility for your employees, remote working also opens up a limitless pool of talent for organisations. There are no limits to who you can hire when the role is offered on a remote basis, meaning you’re no longer tied to a specific city or town to find the talent you need.
Stay ahead of the competition
Whatever industry you are in, there will always be competition. With every sector, there are always people looking to do what you do, in a smarter and cheaper way. Technology gives your competitors the edge to do this, so the only way to keep your business ahead is to be one step in front of them at all times. Using the right digital solutions keeps you at the forefront of your industry, rather than falling behind.
Increased revenue and profits
By combining all of the points we listed above, it’s easy to see the impact technology can have on your businesses profits. Automation allows you to free up time for your staff to do more in less time. Going paperless means you don’t need to shell out on filing cabinets or printers. Remote working allows you to save on renting office space, plus you’re consuming less energy as a whole, which is great for your bank balance and also the planet.
Smart technology all businesses should be using by now
Artificial Intelligence and Automation
CIPD’s people and machines research report found that nearly a third of UK organisations (32%) have invested in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation in the last five years, with the most common cited reasons for introducing them being:
- To improve the quality of goods and services (38%)
- To deliver goods or services more cheaply (33%) or to reduce overall costs (32%)
- To keep up with competitors (32%) or the wider industry (32%).
Automation is not new for businesses. Over the past 50 years, companies have been benefiting from automation to increase workplace efficiency and reduce mistakes. Whilst automation is essentially administering a system to complete repetitive tasks that a human would normally do, there is still a common misconception that adopting automation means laying off a huge number of the workforce. CIPD’s findings found that among employers that have introduced AI and automation, more than two-fifths (43%) say it has created jobs.
Adopters of automation will instead find by automating repetitive business processes, their employees have more free time to complete tasks that are more valuable than those that can be completed by a machine.
It’s important to remember that automation is just one variation of AI. Businesses can also benefit from many other AI tools on the market, such as Data Analytics, Conversational AI and Targeted Marketing.
Cloud storage has become increasingly popular in businesses over the years, and that is because effective information storage is crucial for modern businesses. As well as saving your business huge amounts of time, money, and stress, cloud storage tools also remove the need for in-house servers, expensive hardware and critical data attacks.
Cloud storage simply stores all your business files in a virtual storage system and is especially helpful because it creates a centralised information hub for your workplace whilst also offering wide security measures to ensure your data is protected.
Whether your business works with a small or huge amount of data and information, you will need to store it somewhere and by using cloud storage you can ensure it’s stored safely and securely.
2020 has changed the way we work forever. So many businesses faced the consequences of having poor communication tools in place when the pandemic started, resulting in disorganised and poorly-planned operations. Having effective communication tools in place is key to the success of the business. If some or all your employees are still working remotely then communication tools like Slack and MS Teams allow them to connect via calls and messaging. It’s also worth having dedicated video calling software to organise online meetings and events.
Businesses have a responsibility to protect their data and there are plenty of security tools available to help you do that. Protecting sensitive information is critical to ensuring your business is compliant and that your customers’ data is kept safe. Brand trust and reputation is a huge thing in the digital age and one ugly scandal could easily ruin that. Don’t risk it — ensure you have the necessary tools in place.
By having each of the tools mentioned above already in place, then you lay the foundation for the newest and latest advancements in other areas to be utilised and implemented in a more scalable way.