The advent of the Internet has really transformed our lives from just a couple of decades ago. These days many individuals in business would struggle to understand just how long it used to take to do any kind of transaction, and the backlog that was often created.
We have obviously moved on quite a long way from using fax machines, but this doesn’t mean we all drive around on hover boards and live in a futuristic utopia. Not quite yet, anyway.
The intentions of a business to move towards online processes rarely plays out overnight, and many look to see how their competitors fare before taking the plunge and streamlining processes. In this article we look at how companies are looking to implement these Internet based processes, and which ones are picking up the most speed.
The reward for managing to divert a process away from paper based systems is obvious in a number of ways – fewer reams of paper means less waste; online records mean easy and instant access to files from any point in collected records, rather than sifting through entire catalogues. Internet storage also allows for peace of mind in terms of safekeeping, and ensures the essentials are forever backed up. This also means you can access your files on any device, far away from your office.
Cloud services and storage are just one of a number of ways the shift towards online processes is making everything easier. Communication has undoubtedly emerged as one of the winners of the Internet era, and it has never been easier to stay in touch with people from all around the world: an invaluable development for many small businesses.
Online communication tools such as Skype are ideal for many businesses that have staff in different corners of the world working on a project. The software allows them to consult and swap ideas as if they were all in the same room.
This is all part of the wider world of web conferencing, where tools such as webcams, audio and the latest software allow you to host a working, interactive web conference between you and other employees that allows the opportunity to work on a project together when miles apart.
As you might expect with technology and its developers, some of the latest technologies to emerge are very much designed with businesses in mind, and are tailored to meet their needs. There are so many businesses worldwide that it is not surprising the tech companies are competing for their custom as they look to make the transition online as smoothly as possible.
Marketing is also an aspect that has seen huge amounts of change in terms of the way it is conducted. Before the age of internet connectivity, if a business wanted to spread news of what they did to potential new customers, they would have to advertise via print media, or produce a costly television advert.
Nowadays, the game has completely changed. The fact that so many of us are online means there is an entirely new way in which to distribute marketing information, and new ways to spread the message. With the rise of SEO and other marketing tools in order to promote a website and have it appear as relevant as possible to target markets, there is a much greater chance of a business connecting with the right people.
Businesses can also reach out to clients via email and SMS to let them know about new products, which incurs a much lower cost than printing out lots of advertising, and so the conversion rate doesn’t need to be as high to secure a return.
Speaking of emails, instant communication has also opened up a world of potential to improve customer service connections. With programs such as MailChimp offering users email marketing solutions that are tailored to company needs, getting an effective message out becomes easier. It also means that businesses can get in touch with customers and clients easily and quickly sort out any problems that may arise.
Technology should also help liven up your average board meeting, not just ones held on a web conference platform. As tech presents us with new ways to visualize and engage with data, such new products as board book software can really help you to get your message across in the quarterly meeting, and make sure everybody is on the same page. Because tablets and touchscreen devices have now come down in price, it is quite usual to bring these along to the meeting.
It is also getting easier to produce relevant metrics with which to measure the current performance of a business. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have long been the hushed talk of board level meetings, but these days assessing how well a company is doing is no longer so complicated.
By taking into account market trends, customer confidence and your business outlook, it is possible to collate the data in a way that can be analyzed easily to indicate the next step. At least if there is something in the business that isn’t working, you can figure it out and find something that works instead of forever forcing square pegs into round holes.
There really are few disadvantages to this general direction we are heading, and streamlining ineffective and inefficient processes and getting back a lot of non-productive time means it can be better utilized elsewhere.
Employees also doubtless appreciate how much less effort they have to spend on menial tasks, which allows them to contribute more effectively to the team when not shackled by paperwork. Online communication also means the whole team is better connected, and nobody is left isolated. Though this transition is by no means a quick process, it is clear how much momentum it has already built, and it will be exciting to see in a few years just how much more efficient our businesses are.