Can you imagine running a business without email or access to the internet? How about working for a week without a smartphone?
Over the past few decades technology has evolved to help us be more productive, communicate faster, automate processes and generate more sales. That evolution is continuing to help businesses grow and now even a small, local company can use digital technology to grow to deliver services across the globe, sometimes without even leaving the office.
Businesses who get on board with modern technology are now faster, smarter, and better organised. They know more about their customers and clients, they make more sales, they reduce their operational costs and they maintain an advantage to beat their competition. But what problems are they solving through technology and how are they transforming themselves into a technology-savvy operation?
Creating a solution or solving a problem?
Technology should always tick at least one of two boxes. It should do things better or do better things. When technology does both then businesses are likely to see impressive growth.
Use the cloud to work more flexibly
There are some simple solutions available to help kick start a journey to the cloud, such as moving to an online office set up using Google Apps for Business or Microsoft Office 365. These cloud-based solutions mean the office software you already know is available to you anywhere, anytime, and on any device.
With professional email, online storage, shared calendars, video meetings and business-grade security, not only can they help you work more flexibly but they can also replace multiple, costly servers taking up space and electricity in the office.
The ability to create, edit, share and collaborate on documents, as well as communicate with customers and the team, means you won’t need to come to work in order to do your work. In fact, some businesses may no longer need a dedicated workplace at all.
CRM – keeps you connected with customers
Many businesses will have moved the contents of their customer filing cabinet into an Outlook contact list or onto a spreadsheet but how many are actively using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution to properly manage their company’s interaction with current and future customers?
A well-planned CRM has a wider range of benefits than paper-based systems and can help to organise, automate, and synchronise sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support all within the one system.
This means the sales and marketing team can meticulously plan and record interactions with customers and keep detailed information on products or services they’ve purchased, when they are active, their feedback and interactions, and show which marketing materials they received and when. These automated processes mean fewer mistakes and the whole system is updated automatically, so the sales team will have up-to-the-minute information about each client whether they are in the office or on the move.
Integrating your systems
More and more, businesses are realising that their historic, piecemeal approach to technology has meant they have been solving small problems as they occur rather than taking the time to fully plan a Digital Strategy that compliments the Business Plan.
They may have many different time-saving systems in place which don’t talk to each other to support the business as a whole. This can waste time and create risk. Systems Integration is vital to connect different systems and software applications so they act in a more coordinated manner.
For instance, take a business that makes sales on their website then manually inputs that sale into the accounting software and then prints the invoice to post to a customer.
By integrating their existing systems they could save themselves time and the risk of human error by having the website connect to the accounting software so the sale appears on their cash flow and accounts instantly. The accounting software could also connect to their email software and email the invoice immediately to the customer. This is faster, more efficient and frees up valuable staff time to work on growing the business.
When businesses are busy it isn’t always easy to find the time to research new technologies that could benefit the business, let alone test various technology tools to see if they’re the right solution. Superfast Business Cornwall offers eligible SMEs in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly the opportunity to learn about the technology available to grow a business, as well as providing expert advice and support from a team of Business Advisers.
Eligible businesses in Cornwall have the opportunity to take part in a Digital Technology Workshop the first step on a tailored programme of high quality information, advice and digital skills development to help businesses develop a strategy for growth using the latest in digital technology.
To find out about events across Cornwall visit www.sfbcornwall.co.uk or call 0345 600 3936.