The internet-era has sparked the biggest change in the global economy since the steam and coal powered days of the industrial revolution.
Just as factory owners back then asked themselves whether they should be incorporating the Spinning Jenny, the Power Loom and the Steam Engine into their operations. Modern day business owners are asking themselves the same questions about modern technology.
In this article we look to explore that question in detail, to help you understand whether or not incorporating tech into your business model is worthwhile.
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The Communication Era
How do you stay in touch with your customers? Through word of mouth? When they come into your store every couple of weeks, or do you have a mailing system? Do your customers receive a newsletter from you once a month with all of your latest offers and promotions?
If you do any of these things you’re not necessarily doing anything wrong, you’re just going about your business in a very 20th century sort of way. The consumers of today have a much shorter attention span than consumers of the last century.
They are constantly bombarded with advertising messages everywhere they go, which is why most modern businesses like to keep a regular line of communication open between themselves and their customers.
Take gaming platforms for example, 888, one of the biggest and most reputable names in the Canadian online gambling market. They know that at any moment their customers could choose to up and leave and play with one of their many competitors.
That’s why they constantly keep in touch with their players through email and push notifications. When they have a new deposit limit in online games they let their players know right away. When they have a new game, their customers are the first to find out about it.
In operating like this 888 ensure that they remain relevant to their customers and are the first name that pops to mind when their players think of the word ‘poker’. According to studies, the average person is exposed to between 5,000 – 10,000 advertising messages a day.
That’s 5,000 – 10,000 reasons for your potential customer to spend their money with someone else. In this type of environment, your business can’t rely on old-fashioned approaches to advertising and marketing.
You have to adapt to the communication era and get on board with the daily grind of marketing, keeping in touch with your customers as often as possible. The best way to do this is via an app that can send push notifications directly to your clients.
The next best thing is an email campaign, which is the bare minimum of any forward-thinking 21st century company. Now that you’re aware of how important technology is in a marketing sense, let’s look at some of the other ways in which technology can benefit your business.
The reason that inventions like the Spinning Jenny and the Power Loom were so successful is that they dramatically reduced the time it took to complete simple tasks. The Spinning Jenny helped workers to create more textile in much less time and cut waste, which in turn maximised the profits of textile producers.
Similarly, there are modern technologies that can reduce the amount of time you and your staff are spending on tasks. Have a review of your processes and try and pinpoint areas that are draining time and money from your output.
Then look at how technology could streamline these processes. Are your colleagues spending too much time typing out replying to customer queries? If so, look at putting a chat bot on your web page to filter out some of the easiest to answer and most time consuming queries.
Do you employ an accountant to painstakingly go through your invoices and import them on to a spreadsheet? What about making their job easier by investing in automated accounting software?
These are just two examples of how to make your business more productive with technology, there are countless more that will be specific to your organisation. All you have to do is find them!
There are many downsides to technology as well as the positives which you will need to keep an eye on. The most obvious of all will be cost, as many of these technological upgrades do come at a high initial price.
Just like anything in your business, this can be negotiated by a simple cost-benefit analysis. Other things though are harder to spot, like the peculiar link between email and decreased productivity.
A survey by Adobe found recently that the average person spends 3.1 hours per day sending and checking emails. That amounts to 15.5 hours per week, or to put it into perspective, 2 out of 5 work days per week.
To counter this some businesses have imposed strict time limits on their employees, only giving them an hour a day to send or receive emails. Other, savvier companies have asked their employees to do something more old-fashioned – use the telephone.
These businesses have found that in doing so their employees have become more productive, spending far less time worrying about how to sign off their emails and more time working.
Technology is unavoidable. If you stick your head in the stand and try to keep to the same approach that you have used for decades your business will fail. In order to make the most out of the modern economy business owners need to adapt to new technology.
That adaptation needs to be business specific though. There is no one approach that suits every company. If you want to move with the times you’re going to need to complete a review of your business operations and find out what technological advances will work for you and your staff. Whether its about network security for your company or utilising more efficient processes within your business, the results in the future can safeguard your business’ progress and improve performance.