IT is much more than just working computers and internet connectivity, it’s also a strategic lever for profitable growth. How so? When IT is simplified into devices, network infrastructure, and software, it can obscure the fact that there are valuable solutions within these categories that can streamline operations, catalyse growth, deliver more value to customers, and drive efficiency.
All of these things can boost your competitive edge and create even more delighted customers that champion your brand and help your business to grow. In this blog, we’re going to explore six important IT solutions that can help your business to achieve these goals, in a nutshell, they are:
- ·Cloud Computing Solutions
- Business Process Automation
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool
- Cloud Collaboration and Productivity Suites
- Business Continuity Solutions
- Data Analytics Tools
Many of these can be implemented internally, while others may require the assistance of an IT support provider. These technologies can help you to save time and money, lower risks, create more value and scalability, streamline and improve collaboration, and implement invaluable data-driven decision making. Let’s get into it!
Ah the cloud, it’s quite an intangible term, isn’t it? However, it’s fundamental to much of the most cutting-edge tech that is driving business competitiveness today. These include Software-as-a-Service solutions like Microsoft 365, generative AI tools like ChatGPT, and more broadly, the ability to scale your data and services hosting on a cost-precise, moment to moment basis for your business. Cloud technology enables businesses to deliver and receive services via an internet connection (the ‘cloud’!), that includes both server capacity (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), and software alike.
In many sectors such as telecoms, internet services, and software, the cloud is redefining how we operate today. It’s certainly a technology solution worth investing into in some way or another, and one that is likely to yield significant returns for your business.
Cloud solutions in a nutshell, help businesses to do things like:
- Share and work on documents in real time
- Virtualise their servers with a cloud provider, which tends to save costs and boost scalability
- Scale users, data and services up and down in real time
- Integrate datasets, applications, channels and systems together much more seamlessly
- Streamline and speed up their workflows
- Manage their infrastructure via software, increasing simplicity and control
Especially for cloud infrastructure solutions, you will likely need the help of an IT support provider to find the best use cases and to get implementation support. To gain invaluable insights into how cloud solutions can add the best value specifically for your business, feel free to get in touch with us to book a complementary consultation with Chris.
Business Process Automation
Business process automation (BPA) involves the use of AI to automate tasks and workflows, freeing up time and energy for other tasks while boosting the efficiency and scalability of your business. These tools may be in-built into certain software platforms such as Microsoft 365 (the Power Automate tool) or can be utilised as a specialised software solution in itself.
Business process automation is a great way to increase competitiveness and scalability, especially for business owners that want to make a transition from working ‘in’ their business, to working more ‘on’ it. It can increase convenience, help you to streamline processes, and ensure that your operations are consistent and do not miss a beat.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tools
Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zoho CRM are examples of these tools, which are designed to manage and analyse prospect and customer interactions and data across your digital platforms, so that you can deliver more informed, personalised and scalable value to them. A robust CRM solution aids your understanding of your customers’ and prospects’ needs, enhances customer service, and helps drive sales growth.
CRM tools can be used to:
- Track customer relationships and interactions across multiple digital touchpoints
- Create, track and analyse the success of multi-channel marketing campaigns
- Create and send appealing emails to defined customer segments
- Structure and take customers through marketing and sales funnels
- Embed forms onto your website that enable you to collect data and schedule meetings
- Embed chatbots and on-page chat tools that connect customers to your customer service team
CRM tools are a great way to save time and deliver more value to your customers. They are also quite easy to integrate with other cloud software solutions, creating a more streamlined operation.
Cloud Collaboration and Productivity Suites
Cloud collaboration and productivity suites provide a platform that brings together productivity and collaboration tools under a single, streamlined roof. The most notable examples of this kind of solution are Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace.
Particularly useful in our age of remote work, they enable capabilities like live document storage, sharing and collaboration, live messaging and calling, seamless meeting scheduling, and the ability to undertake a range of tasks within one handy interface.
They are also easy to scale and configure. You can add new users and features at the push of a button, and they have security-boosting features you can use, such as multi-factor authentication. Like CRMs, they can be integrated with other cloud software to create a more unified and seamless operation in your business.
Project Management Software
Tools such as Asana, Trello, and Jira help teams to plan, organise, and manage tasks with more efficiency and clarity. They enable businesses to create clear projects with defined timelines, objectives and dependencies. In combination with other tools in this article, they can provide a powerful integrated solution to empower a seamless operation that does not miss a beat.
Business Continuity Solutions
Downtime and disruption can be a big inhibitor to productivity, and can cause great costs in reputation, time and money. A hardware malfunction, cyber-attack, or as Covid-19 showed us, an unexpected event, can cause chaos and put operations out of joint. As the name implies, business continuity solutions help businesses to stay on the road, even under the most challenging of conditions. These solutions include:
- Backup and disaster recovery (B&DR) solutions that regularly backup and store your data and systems securely, so that they can be retrieved promptly whenever needed.
- Having remote-friendly working capabilities (cloud hosting and workplace tools) which gives your business the flexibility that it needs to operate at a distance, wherever it is needed or desirable.
- Cyber security solutions like endpoint protection, firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, can all help to lower the probability and impact of cyber threats causing disruption to your business.
Data Analytics Tools and Platforms
It can be quite a challenge for non-technical teams to create their very own data analytics platform that utilise technologies like machine learning. There are two solutions that can help, depending on each business’s situation and needs. There are platforms like Tableau and Microsoft Power BI, which are making it more accessible to bring data together to create novel and intelligent insights that can inform better decision making.
More accessible, cloud-based software solutions such as CRMs, social media management software, and website analytics tools like Google Analytics, also offer handy data visualisations that you can use to solve problems and exploit new opportunities.
Best Practices for Implementing New Technology in Your Business
While these IT tools can offer transformative results for your business, the “how” is also a very important part of getting the best from them. Some best practices we would suggest, include:
1. Assess Your Needs and Identify Use Cases
Perhaps there are processes that could be automated, collaboration processes that could be more convenient and streamlined, or projects that could be organised better. In any case, find problems in your business, envision a better alternative for each pain point, link them to these solutions, and begin researching more specific tools and software systems that can address your needs and empower your goals.
2. Plan The Implementation
Depending on the nature of the solution, you can plan a full internal implementation or get the technical support of an IT support provider to ensure that it works smoothly within your IT environment as intended.
Set out your objectives, success criteria, milestones, assign roles and responsibilities, identify stakeholders, and any processes that may be impacted. Crucial too, is considering your IT infrastructure and environment; an implementation of Microsoft 365 for example, can vary by cloud, hybrid, or fully on-premise hosting environments.
Don’t forget to include planning for aspects beyond the rollout of the technology, such as onboarding, collecting user feedback, and pursuing continuous improvement over time.
3. Implement The Project Carefully
With a phased approach you can ensure the project is rolled out smoothly. You may want to undertake pilot testing to gauge its effectiveness, and to address any unanticipated snags ahead of a fuller rollout. Regular reviews and meetings will also be key for sharing information and implementing the project in a holistic way that leaves no stone unturned.
4. Review Success and Undertake Continuous Improvement
Review the success of the project by documenting and reviewing the benefits that it has offered, using numerical and qualitative data. It’s unlikely that any business will achieve a perfect implementation that gets the best possible benefit right from the start, which is why continuous improvement can help you to gain more value from each new piece of technology that you implement.
The promise of IT in driving business value, scalability, and efficiency is undeniable. However, an important crux lies in selecting the right tools and implementing them
effectively. In some cases, this will require the guidance and direct assistance of an IT support provider. By seeing your IT and your IT support team as a strategic lever, a business can greatly increase its competitiveness, efficiency and scalability today. What’s more, the increasing accessibility of these tools is making it easier than ever before for businesses of all sizes! The opportunities are there for the taking, is your business ready to leverage them?
SolCo Solution Consultants: Reading’s Leading IT Support Provider
Based in Reading, Solution Consultants provides IT Support, Telecoms, and Cloud solutions for SMEs across Berkshire and the Thames Valley. We get to know your business, its challenges and goals, and deploy scalable and agile technology solutions that make a real difference.
We specialise in simplifying IT, making valuable technology more accessible than ever before. We believe technology has the power to transform your business and open access to new markets. Need a hand with a tech challenge, or getting the best from your tech more broadly? Get in touch with us today. We’ll be glad to meet with you, listen, and provide actionable insights and guidance that help you to move forward.