What’s next? Three technologies that you should be watching
Technology change continues to be high on the agenda. While everyone in business is well aware that the need to change and adapt is there, it can be hard to know where to start. With so many options available, where do you get the best bang for your buck?
I thought I’d share some thoughts on just where we believe you can make the most impact. Hopefully it can provide some food for thought over the holiday season as many of us take a little down time.
Mobility will only grow
Mobility is a topic I’ve written on at length previously. What’s interested me in my travels around the region, our country, and the globe this year is that, for me, I believe there’s still a huge amount of benefit that businesses across the Central West can derive from further embracing mobile technology.
The ability to access information wherever you are is powerful, especially when you link your backend systems to give your people the right access at the right time.
For me the big area of improvement is in the accessibility of information. A lot of businesses I see have some connectivity to basic systems like email, but not to other business critical applications. There’s a huge benefit in, for example, providing more data rich applications. Being able to both download and upload data while on the move, across multiple systems, will have a tremendous productivity benefit to your business.
If there’s one challenge I often see it’s this: Backend systems that don’t connect, have multiple manual touch points, and a lack of formal processes. So many businesses excel at what they do, i.e. their front-end activities, but when you look in the background, the back office is often a maze of poor processes and siloed systems. The old chestnut of “we’ve always done it this way” often rears its head at this point, making change difficult to start and impossible to finish.
Process automation is something we all talk about, but many of us don’t put into practice, as it often seems just too hard with all the competing priorities we have in business. The reality is that it doesn’t need to be hard.
Starting the journey really comes down to having the conversation within the business and acknowledging that issues exist. From that point, the best solution is tackling the beast head on: Pick a labour-intensive, manual process and start with that. Kick it off with a workshop focused on finding a better way that works for all your stakeholders, and then implement the change. Once you’ve knocked one process over, you’ll find it much easier to move onto the next.
Don’t be afraid to talk with your technology partners at this point. I’ll bet if you ask the question, there’s going to be a way of automating a huge number of processes using the technology you already have as the starting point. Having the right tech partner on board means that you can have a guide on the journey, someone who can help you build a plan to make process automation a success. It’s an approach that has worked very well for us both internally, in our business, and with our clients.
If there’s one piece of technology that I can encourage you to focus on, going into 2018, it’s this: Building a central repository for all your business information. So many businesses still have both paper and digital documents stored in a variety of places. Streamlining this into one centralised location is an absolute must, from my point of view.
While getting the obvious benefit of one place for all your information, you’ll also see enhanced security, audit control, and improved access to business information, right across your team. The technology exists today to make this process so much easier than it was before, for example, you can easily onramp paper documents through your existing printing hardware, simply converting it to digital form.
In fact, it’s having a central repository for business information that underpins the other two trends. They both rely on having access to accurate, timely business information as a core input.
Hopefully this piece will help you start a conversation within your own business of how you might be able to approach 2018 with a different mindset when it comes to these three important technology trends.