Most large businesses have an IT team that is responsible for protecting data and networking the computers used by employees. In many cases, the IT department can be ignored or isn't given enough attention from upper management. If you manage or own a business, there are a few things that you need to know to get the most out of your IT team.
How Much to Budget
Depending on the industry, good IT can cost a bit of money because the technology likely affects your customers. Technology is a key driving force in every business market, which makes IT teams more in demand. IT teams can also cost more because they're responsible for accommodating the re-occurring wave of change while embracing technology as a partner rather than a commodity. Companies that sell technology as a product will likely have lower costs than those that sell products like tacos or buildings. Investing more money in IT may be a sacrifice but can have a positive impact on each department and aspect of the business.
If you make the mistake of getting hooked on buzzwords as a business, then you will quickly find yourself bloated with useless hardware and incompatible software, which can make your IT team confused and ineffective. Do you know the difference between ITIL and ITSM? Using confusing acronyms can only lead to issues and complications that occur down the road.
Many businesses fail to have an IT plan or strategy, which is critical to the operation of their business with the type of software that is used. Many businesses often assume that technology can compensate for mistakes that are often made, but it is actually a force multiplier for the business. It can save money, attract more business, and boost the productivity of your team. You'll need to work closely with your IT team to develop a strategy and research the top software that can be utilized. Work with a professional that can help you to identify that IT structure that is needed to support the business and also plan for the future.
Businesses that understand the importance of their IT team often succeed because they utilize what the department has to offer. With the right software used and a plan created, you'll likely obtain more success in the industry.
Businesses are often guilty of wasting a lot of money throughout the year. In many instances, the money is spent without even realizing that there is a better alternative. Understanding the ways that businesses waste money will allow you to see what opportunities exist within your own operations.
New technology is available to provide higher productivity, more analysis of financials, and other tasks. Much of the new fintech is causing disruption, which leads to companies not able to adapt failing. Big data, for example, is where many businesses fail to adapt. You can save a lot of time while obtaining more valuable information about trends by learning how to work with big data. Further, CRM and ERP systems can be implemented as a way of improving customer service, eliminating data redundancy, and providing access to information from any mobile device.
Poor Marketing Strategies
Marketing tends to be a black hole when it comes to spending. Businesses know that they need to market but aren’t doing so effectively. Many fail to establish a target audience, so their campaigns aren’t capturing the interest of the audience that is most likely to do business with them. Further, every campaign needs to be analyzed to see whether the desired return on investment is being achieved. Certain marketing strategies tend to have a higher return on investment. For example, effective SEO increases conversions and lowers advertising costs. By understanding marketing ROI, you can change strategies or tweak campaigns so that they are more successful.
Businesses of all sizes tend to get sloppy with their finances. This is particularly true of small businesses because they take on the mindset that they can do it all. As a result, they struggle with knowing what they’re spending against their budget. They may also be unsuccessful at collecting all income that is owed because of not having the time to send out invoices and follow-up statements. Many businesses may not even realize they can get many tax breaks and credits and miss out on thousands of dollars. DIY accounting strategies simply aren’t effective for the long-term. Implementing a bookkeeper to help with all of the bookkeeping can make it easier to tighten spending and see where money is being spent on a more regular basis.
In the end, there are a lot of ways to avoid spending money where it doesn’t need to be spent. You don’t want to waste money when there are ways for you to improve your operations, explore new technology, market effectively, and tighten your spending with the help of a bookkeeper.
Looking for more financial advice? Dive into The Money Idea here!
With growing dependence on electronic communication, it would seem that many small businesses would be prepared for the paperless office era. Despite the growing reliance on technology, businesses of all types including shops, firms, manufacturers, and more are not converting to paperless offices in large numbers. Change is hard for some, since the process of going paperless may seem intimidating.
However, there are many benefits to going paperless, such as protecting sensitive data, reducing office waste, and minimizing the need for physical storage space. Going paperless can also save you time if you do it correctly. Below are three technologies that may help put your business on the paperless path.
Digital Billing Processes
Online billing software is a great first step towards a paperless office and offers so many other advantages as well. Once it's set up, it's fast and simple to use. All the client's information is stored in the system or cloud—including their preferred payment methods and information. Think of the space you'll save with this paperless system in not having to print out invoices, reports, and other records.
Physical documents no longer need to be filed and stored, which takes up time and space. With your logo, the system helps establish your brand on all of your invoices and documents. The system will protect the information in a secure environment, which is also a real plus. Many billing processes can be fully or partially automated using the software to save even more time.
If you are trying to go paperless in your office, then iPad receptionist software can benefit your business. There's no need for paper sign-in sheets or logs, since the software takes care of that for you in real time—helping you easily track all visitors, their purposes, and their entry and exit times. It saves time in letting you and your employees know of any new arrivals without someone having to monitor a paper log. You can set alerts and visitor watchlists for security purposes that can include instructions for employees on how to deal with any specific people or situations.
Digital signatures are growing in use and popularity. Providing the highest levels of assurance about the identity of each signer and the document's authenticity, digital signatures make complying with legal matters convenient and secure in addition to saving time and money. You'll no longer have to print an abundance of legal documents or contracts and send them out for signatures through the mail or paid courier services. They can be sent electronically—for free—directly and securely to the parties who need to sign, and then stored securely as well.
Using the three technologies outlined above will help you convert your business to a paperless one. Businesses seeking a more efficient, secure means of handling documentation will appreciate paperless solutions. The potential is there to save time, money, and resources while improving your office processes.
Interested in learning more? Check out a world of new ideas for a better business life.
(BPT) - Over the past decade, technology has reshaped the retail industry in profound ways. Ninety-six percent of Americans are now shopping online, according to a recent study from CPC Strategy. Which means today’s business leaders face increasing pressure to keep retail spaces relevant and engaging for customers.
One solution to captivating today’s consumer is a simple one: Build meaningful connections with local communities, says Etienne Veber, president of Field Trip Factory, a firm that helps design, schedule and promote interactive learning experiences within retail environments.
“Technology provides greater convenience and lower prices,” Veber says, "but it is not a replacement for human interactions."
The increasing lack of human connections in our daily lives represents a unique opportunity for retailers to thrive in today's environment, he says, by identifying their core values and concerns, and then expressing them through meaningful learning experiences and a deeper sense of community.
"We learn by doing, and retail environments can be incredibly powerful as teaching platforms,” Veber says.
The value of purpose
When companies express a sense of purpose to their customers, it has a profound effect on the confidence in the brand. Eighty-five percent of companies with a strong sense of purpose say they are backed by their communities, because they are seen as “good and helpful corporate citizens,” according to a survey by Deloitte.
Furthermore, 89 percent of firms with a purpose say clients and customers trust the quality of their products and services — versus the 66 percent of firms that do not have this sense of purpose.
As a way to demonstrate its commitment to its local communities, multi-format food retailer Giant Eagle, Inc. developed an interactive program that connects with local school children. “Be A Smart Shopper” helps young students and their families learn about making healthy food choices.
Over the years, it has been a very effective way for Giant Eagle’s retail Team Members to uphold the company’s common purpose to improve people’s everyday lives and well-being in a community-centered way, and so far more than 600,000 families have been reached across Pennsylvania and Ohio. Educators love the program because it supplements the classroom curriculum and gets their students really engaged. Ninety-five percent of them are planning to come back with their students next year!
“Our Be A Smart Shopper program is an important part of how we fulfill our commitments to education and health and wellness,” says Giant Eagle CEO Laura Karet. “Through the program, our retail Team Members are able to meaningfully impact how the children in our communities think about the foods they eat, and encourage involvement from the children in family meal planning.”
Expressing purpose in the retail space
A retailer can build trust and loyalty by expressing their values in innovative ways. Their stores are more than places to shop. They can build opportunities right in the towns and cities in which they serve.
Host in-store classes and events: Business leaders, store managers and longtime employees, with their industry knowledge, are community gurus. With that mindset, what better way to connect with the community than to open the doors for an on-site event? Things like hands-on demonstrations, seminars, consultations and even heading up an ongoing club are all engaging ways to share knowledge and help people solve their most common pain points.
Champion local causes: Transform company values and industry knowledge into a community asset, and direct resources to solve problems in the community. Reaching out to local nonprofits, being a major sponsor to make a local event even bigger and better, or paying employees for their time to volunteer are all ways a brand can build a meaningful community presence.
Find a partner: Most businesses do not have the in-house expertise to organize, plan and publicize in-house events and initiatives, which is why some turn to a trusted partner for expertise in that field. For example, as Giant Eagle planned its Be A Smart Shopper Program, Field Trip Factory took the lead with the curriculum (with input from educators), and created the online tool that makes it easy for teachers to discover the program and sign up their class for an event. Each participating store can easily set its availability on the Field Trip Factory platform and these educational events take place without disrupting their day-to-day business activities.
Today’s retail climate is a uniquely challenging one, due to the rise in technology. To learn more about finding opportunities to engage with customers and communities, visit fieldtripfactory.com.
(BPT) - A hundred years ago, few thought that the clunky automobile that broke down so often would ever replace a horse. In the 1970s, people wondered if the personal computer that a few eccentrics were using would have any use beyond storing recipes. It’s safe to say that these innovations, along with many of the technologies we now use daily, were once considered impossible dreams.
Right now, the most-talked-about piece of technological innovation that is poised to transform our lives is the autonomous or self-driving car. As self-driving cars gain widespread adoption, analysts are predicting the rise of what is known as the passenger economy — a term coined by Intel — that is expected to be worth $7 trillion by 2050 as validated in a new report by analyst firm Strategy Analytics.
Seven trillion dollars is a lot of money! A decade ago, people couldn’t fully imagine the way smartphones would give rise to the app economy. Today we are at the threshold of something equally momentous — that’s why entrepreneurs and investors are now beginning to imagine the economic possibilities tied in with autonomous cars.
The following are five big areas of opportunity that will unfold in the passenger economy era.
The advent of the passenger economy will contribute to a safer and more efficient world. Those who can imagine and anticipate the coming changes will be in the best position to get the most out of it.
One of the challenges facing small businesses today is trying to deliver the same customer experience as larger competitors. As technology advances and takes on an ever-growing role, small businesses can tap new innovations to better communicate with customers, save money and simplify operations. These tips can help you establish a strategy that can benefit both your business performance and customer experience.
Digitally Transforming Your Business
(Family Features) One of the challenges facing small businesses today is trying to deliver the same customer experience as larger competitors. As technology advances and takes on an ever-growing role, small businesses can tap new innovations to better communicate with customers, save money and simplify operations.
As small business owners look to transform digitally, they face a number of options, from upgrading their technology to optimize shipping operations and decrease costs to adopting digital marketing tactics to better understand and target their customers. While it can be difficult for a small business that is well-established using analog processes to switch to digital, the key is to start with the final objective in mind; in other words, begin by defining your end goal. Once you’ve determined the desired outcome of digitizing your business, these tips can help you establish a strategy that can benefit both your business performance and customer experience.
Reach customers through digital marketing
Beyond the content, an effective strategy establishes connective links between all your marketing touchpoints, from email to blog and even to your traditional tactics, such as direct mail and more, all with the goal of boosting credibility and visibility via search engine optimization and foot traffic.
Optimize operations through the cloud
“The SendPro C-Series is designed to take the guesswork out of shipping and mailing,” said Jason Dies, executive vice president and president, Pitney Bowes SMB Solutions. “These digitally connected sending devices allow users to better manage their sending operations on one platform, providing the confidence that they selected the right carrier and class of service for each expedited envelope and package, track all shipments from one dashboard and provide consolidated visibility and control of postal and carrier expenses. Plus, the open platform allows developers to create new applications specific for the needs of small business owners.”
Make decisions based on analytics
Use mobile to communicate with customers
Find more tips for transforming your business for the digital age at pitneybowes.com/us/digital.
Elements of a Digital Transformation
Before diving head-first into a digital transformation, consider what aspects are most important to your business.
Boost Business Digitally
Google G Suite is a cloud-based productivity suite that helps teams communicate, collaborate and get things done from anywhere, and on any device.
Yext puts businesses on the map by letting companies manage their digital knowledge in the cloud and sync it to over 100 maps, apps, search engines, GPS systems and social networks, as well as facilitating face-to-face and digital interactions that boost brand awareness, drive foot traffic and increase sales.
Promote by Acquisio is an advertising solution that helps businesses get new customers with zero expertise needed by creating tailored ads, providing optimization, on-the-go text notifications for incoming leads and tracking of all recorded incoming calls from ads.
Nimble is a simple social sales and marketing CRM that helps companies nurture relationships across email and social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
DocuSign lets people sign, send and manage documents anytime, anywhere, on any device, replacing traditional methods that require printing, faxing, scanning and overnighting documents.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (two business owners)SOURCE:
Welcome to the era of the open workspace, where people can work and collaborate anywhere in the office, wherever they need to be. What do these modern workspaces look like? This article outlines the five traits they have in common.
(BPT) - Step into the office of the future on the first day of work, and the things that you expect in a traditional workplace are not going to happen here.
There’s no landline, no file cabinet, no bulletin board. The employee is never taken to an assigned cubicle. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that employees will spend much of their day in the same chair.
The forward-looking workplace design discards all the usual trappings of the traditional office that lock employees into physical departments with seating arrangements, moving toward an open design. While perks such as catered lunches and ping pong tables are getting attention for changing workplace culture, it's actually the power of technology that is quietly transforming the way we work. Technology is a tool that gives us a fluid and flexible use of time and space, changing how people get the job done.
“Eventually, the open digital workspace design will not be simply nice to have, it’s becoming more and more expected. It’s going to become mandatory if you want to attract top talent,” says Donna Kimmel, the senior vice president and chief people officer of Citrix.
Welcome to the era of the open workspace, where people can work and collaborate anywhere in the office, wherever they need to be. What do these modern workspaces look like? These are the five traits they have in common:
They ditch the cubicle farm: It’s no longer necessary to spend the day alone in a cubicle rooted to one spot for access to a desktop computer or landline phone. Today, you can easily and securely access, store and share your information from anywhere whether you’re on your laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Without the need for space-wasting cubicles, your building space needs are reduced, in some cases up to 50 percent. And a collaborative environment is created when walls are torn down and open seating arrangements invite conversation and brainstorming.
They accommodate work needs: Because technology frees knowledge workers from being rooted to a single cubicle, the new way is to offer an entire floor of flexible workspaces that accommodate various needs and styles. For example, one day an engineer could be working at a long table with fellow engineers, vendors and a project manager. The following week, that engineer might duck into a small privacy room for a marathon session of focused work.
They invite collaboration: Unlike the traditional cubicle farm, a flexible workspace sends a different message to the team. It invites conversation and innovative ideas by actively engaging with colleagues throughout the day, rather than rushing through a meeting agenda and hustling out.
They increase employee engagement and productivity: Flexible workspaces send a message that employees are entrusted to do their jobs wherever they feel most productive. Great leaders know and understand that their actions speak louder than words. Things like corporate policies and company culture send powerful messages to employees about how they are seen in the organization. With feelings of increased autonomy and trust often come increased levels of employee engagement. Once they have autonomy, the magic starts happening.
“… The data tells us — greater autonomy leads to better engagement, better engagement leads to greater productivity, which leads to better bottom-line results,” says Amy Haworth, director, organizational readiness at Citrix.
They embrace BYOD: That is, bring your own device. Sure, many employers may still provide hardware, but as workspaces become more flexible with a burgeoning work-anywhere ethos, employees simply wish to access their work platforms using their own laptops, tablets and mobile devices.
Luckily, it is now much easier to give employees seamless access to documents and networks safely — without draconian security measures to slow connections and processing speed. And as information, applications and work resources move to the cloud, businesses can securely deliver them to any device that has a secure network connection.
For example, Citrix offers a suite of solutions, including Citrix Cloud, XenApp, XenDesktop and ShareFile that makes BYOD secure without sacrificing user experience. If you are interested in learning more, visit citrix.com/products/.
The benefits of the redesigned workspace are numerous, says Kimmel.
"They break down barriers between managers, employees and departments. The increased, casual encounters make it easy to approach others to ask questions, make suggestions and solve problems," says Kimmel. "As a result, work gets done more quickly, and employees and managers alike report higher productivity.
"In the end, employees report greater satisfaction, which leads them to stay with a company longer."
(BPT) - The dollar, the euro, the pound, the yen… the currency people use around the world has many different names, but it all shares something in common. Paper forms of currency are out and digital payments are in. The security and convenience of card based electronic payments and digital payments are driving a global shift away from cash. As consumers and merchants around the world become more and more digitally connected this shift will continue to accelerate.
All over the world, the shift toward cashless payments is well underway. On the beaches of Cabo San Lucas, taco and tamale vendors are starting to offer their delicious food to customers with the swipe or tap of a card on a mobile phone. In Singapore, consumers can rent bikes, pay for their morning coffee and split their dinner bill without ever needing cash, and in Warsaw, as cashless payments are becoming increasingly accepted, tourists can start to tap and pay their way around the city without carrying cash.
Changes abroad, changes at home
The United States is seeing similar changes. Cash and checks are on their way out and swiping, dipping, tapping and clicking are filling the void — benefiting consumers and businesses alike.
A recent Cashless Cities study from Visa, set to be released later this year, finds that if businesses in the top 100 U.S. cities transitioned from cash to digital payments, those businesses and their cities would experience net benefits of $312 billion per year. Businesses in New York City alone would net $6.8 billion while saving more than 186 million hours in labor. But the benefits of taking checks and cash out of the system do not stop at labor cost efficiencies. They include:
* Convenience. Consumers and businesses alike benefit from the speed and convenience of electronic and digital payments. Faster checkout times mean more sales for businesses and more time to spend on the important things in life for consumers.
* Security. Accepting cash payments has always placed businesses in a bind; as their revenue increases, so does their risk of falling victim to theft. Transitioning to cashless payment options enhances security and reduces risk for businesses and their customers.
* Reduced costs. Cash payments must be counted, stored and transported. There are costs associated with all of these processes. Adopting cashless payments saves businesses time and money.
Moving forward to take advantage of cashless opportunities
Many businesses across the country are already benefiting from going cashless, but for companies — particularly small businesses that have yet to take the leap — now is the perfect time to make such a change.
Visa is announcing The Visa Cashless Challenge, a call to action for small business restaurants, cafés or food truck owners to describe what cashless means for them, their employees and customers. Visa will be awarding up to $500,000 to 50 eligible U.S.-based small business food service owners who commit to joining the 100 percent cashless quest.
Business owners can learn more about the challenge and the other benefits of going cashless at www.visa.com/cashless. Complete rules and information will be available on the website on Aug. 15.
Interested in Publishing on The Business IDEA?
Send your query to the Publisher today!
Interested in Publishing on The Business Idea?
Send your query to the Publisher today!
Get this business content for your website with our RSS Feed below!