These are challenging times for small businesses, with everything moving online and teams needing to work remotely.
Operational efficiency is a top priority — but how can you maximize it? In the end, your biggest asset is technology.
The rising technological tide lifts all boats, of course, as is immediately obvious to anyone who’s followed the immense success of home theater equipment and gaming consoles.
But though it’s certainly nice to enjoy the latest and greatest in 3D graphics, business must come first. Deploy the latest tech and you can achieve significant (even game-changing) improvements.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at four uses of technology that are demonstrably effective at boosting business efficiency. Work them into your strategy and you can markedly lighten your regular workload, freeing up time and money to put towards other things. Let’s get started.
Centralizing communication and file sharing
If this pandemic had struck even just a decade earlier, the consequences in the business world would have been profoundly different.
The difference-maker has been the cloud: scalable storage and computing available through the internet to anyone who can pay for it (and many who can’t, given the proliferation of free tiers and promotional offers).
Handling the sudden shift to remote operation wouldn’t have been realistic with older systems. Those without high-performing laptops would have struggled to get anything done from home, and collaborative projects would have been incredibly frustrating.
But look at how things have worked: companies of all shapes and sizes have been able to adapt to doing things online, keeping their teams working together effectively despite the circumstances.
Key to this has been the reliable presence of cloud solution distributors such as intY, a ScanSource Company: they arrange deals with developers, package software solutions to solve particular problems, then licence them (along with relevant support services) to businesses.
This means that typical CEOs don’t need to know how cloud systems work. They simply need to outsource the implementation to suitable experts and trust them to do their jobs.
Automating the customer support process
Companies that handle sales online (this currently accounts for so many of the whole) must also deal with customer support issues, and this matter often takes up huge amounts of time.
A busy sales period can easily result in a barrage of questions about everything from product availability to shipping options, placing enormous stress on support assistants.
Through automation, though, much of this process can be smoothed out. Modern chatbots are very capable at using natural-language processing to provide first-line support: simple issues accounted for in their programmed functions can be dealt with automatically, while complex issues that exceed their capabilities can be escalated to human assistants.
Enhancing the process of media creation
Like it or not, social media has a big part to play in business during the digital era. Companies that want to succeed must be proactive when it comes to marketing, and so much attention goes towards social media platforms that it would be foolish to overlook them. It takes time to handle social media, though — particularly when you factor in the need for rich media.
Whether they’re producing infographics or promotional videos, social media assistants have to get through a lot of media, and it’s a slow and awkward process when you’re doing everything manually.
This is where hyper-intuitive software-as-a-service solutions enter the picture. Tools like Adobe Spark and Canva can make it vastly faster and easier to throw together some images for social sharing, and you don’t need to be an elite graphic designer to use them.
Managing project roles and dependencies
Even when communication among a remote team is strong, projects can fall apart due to mismanagement.
Consider that two workers can have roles that barely overlap, yet it can still be true that one of them can’t technically proceed with a project until the other has finished a certain task.
What happens if said task is finished but the first worker isn’t aware of it? They won’t continue with their work, and the project will be held up for no good reason.
This doesn’t usually stem from malice. Instead, it comes from people having important things to do and assuming that project management tasks will be handled for them.
And through project management software like Asana, it can be handled for them. The result is a reduction in the admin burden for the average employee, allowing them to focus more on their actual job.
The more efficient you can make your business, the more stability you can achieve during these dire economic times. What you do with the spare time and money is up to you. Invest in back in the business, or save it to build up a protective fund. Either way is practical, so go with your gut.