Top Tips for Making IT Relevant for Your Business
Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) or Businesses are vital to the UK economy, driving growth and ensuring employment.
But continued business success and growth, arguably, depends on the successful integration of technology. When integrated successfully, IT can positively affect the performance of a business, benefit its customers and give it the competitive edge. However, many SMEs find the thought of getting to grips with IT a little daunting.
In this post, we offer some top tips for making IT relevant for your business.
1. Education: Find Out What’s Available
Lack of awareness about what’s available is a significant barrier to businesses implementing new technologies. It’s all too easy to become so focused on the day-to-day running of a business that you miss opportunities to embrace new technologies with the potential to help you get ahead of the competition.
To many, technology can seem overcomplicated, moving on at such a rapid pace that it’s hard to keep up. Unfortunately, this all too often leads to avoidance of newer technologies that could prove to be extremely beneficial.
Of course, it’s not sensible, nor practical, for businesses to constantly implement new solutions into their IT strategies simply because it’s the latest thing. However, it is worth taking the time to find out what is available now, that could be beneficial, and keeping one eye on new technology developments over time.
You want to ensure that the IT solutions you incorporate will be relevant to your business and the way in which you operate. Begin by searching for more efficient and cost-effective solutions to your current practices. For example, you may want to digitalise some of the processes that are currently paper-based, to save time and hassle.
You may want to free up internal resources and reduce costs by moving some of your data and applications to the cloud. You may want to invest in cyber security solutions to demonstrate to customers and suppliers that you take data security seriously. Think of the areas where improvement is needed and go from there.
2. Embrace Modern Working Practices
Modern working practices are characterised by enhanced mobility and connectivity.
Not only is this the way that modern businesses operate, it is the way in which most people, these days, live their lives – in a world of hyper-connectivity. Consumers expect to be able to interact with businesses in a variety of ways and to enjoy the kind of efficient, rapid resolutions that enhanced connectivity can bring.
Employees, too, expect to work in an environment that offers high levels of connectivity and mobility. With most engaging with the latest technologies daily in their personal lives, they can quickly become frustrated with outdated working practices that slow them down. The good news is that your business can benefit from these digital skills.
Of course, it would not be sensible to jump straight in and allow your employees to connect to your network from a multitude of devices and locations. This could create security vulnerabilities. But if you’re not already doing so, now is the time to start considering technologies that can help you embrace modern working practices.
For SMEs, modern working practices that allow flexibility and mobility can be truly beneficial, helping to reduce costs and boost productivity. Consider which technologies will be most beneficial to your business and your customers. For example, you may be able to reduce overheads by allowing some team members to work from home. You may be able to garner more customers and improve the service offered by equipping some team members with mobile devices so that they can work on the go.
You don’t need to modernise all of your working practices in one go; by introducing new technologies in phases, and in accordance with the areas of your business where they would be most beneficial, you will find the process much more manageable.
3. Consider Digital Alternatives
These days, there are so many digital alternatives to conventional working practices.
By embracing the digital alternatives that are relevant to your business, you can reduce costs, increase efficiency, boost productivity and improve the service you provide to your customers. Perhaps consider switching from paper-based processes to a digital document storage solution. This will save you time and money as well as freeing up valuable office space.
If you spend a great deal of time and resources providing telephone customer support, perhaps consider offering online alternatives such as live web chat or social media platforms. Customers increasingly want to engage with businesses using these methods, so embracing them can do wonders for your reputation as well as your profits.
Also, consider whether some of your in-house practices would be better outsourced. Cloud providers offer a whole range of services, from data data backup and recovery solutions to office productivity software, cloud phone systems, remote IT support and more.
4. Utilise Social Selling
The way that consumers research products and brands, and make purchasing decisions, has changed quite substantially in recent years. Digital, mobile and social platforms are now leading the way and this is true across the vast majority of industry sectors.
It doesn’t matter whether you sell your products and services to individuals or on a B2B basis, or indeed what those products and services might be – social selling is relevant to you. And, if you want to remain relevant to the customers you’re trying to reach, then social selling should be a fundamental part of your marketing strategy moving forward.
To remain competitive, SMEs need to have an online and social presence because, all too often, this is where the consumer journey both begins and ends nowadays.
To utilise social platforms successfully to sell your products and services and build a positive brand reputation, it’s important to remember that this method differs somewhat from traditional marketing techniques. On social platforms, consumers tend to be won over by the story of a brand. It’s all about building relationships and making connections, rather than solely advertising products and services.
As well as promoting your brand, products and services, be sure to share engaging content that is relevant to your target market. By using a variety of mediums, such as video, images, competitions and articles, you can entertain and engage your audience to keep them interested in your brand.
SMEs should not be deterred from embracing IT due to its perceived complexity.
If you want to make IT relevant to your business, begin by taking a step back, assessing your current needs and researching what’s available. Then, work with those who have the know-how to design and implement a winning IT strategy, whether this is your in-house tech team or an external IT support company such as Grant McGregor Ltd.
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