In my role I am lucky enough to speak to many business owners and also see how their businesses are doing and one thing is clear, this is a new age. Information is travelling faster than ever and recent studies have said that the knowledge we gain is increasing day by day and currently we are doubling our knowledge every 3 years and this number is acceleration.
Just what is responsible for this increase? I am sure that population growth and investment in education are key ingredients but few people would disagree that it is IT which is the driving force behind this increase in knowledge. The current low priced tablet has more computing power than top of the range office systems which were in operationally decades ago. Our current IT systems are so powerful now that many pundits say we as businesses are only using a fraction of their capability.
In the midst of the actual technological change is also the information and how we use and gather information. It is now common for employees to have a smart phone and not only bring it to work but also to use it for work. Services like Facebook can work as an excellent promotional tool for businesses but also as a massive distraction to employees as they are encouraged to interact with these services.
So, how does a business owner make sense of it all and use their IT systems to enhance profit and not become a drain on resources?
I believe the first step is look at what you want to improve in your business. Perhaps you want more sales? Maybe you want better efficiency from your team to allow them to do more work with less headcount? Is your cashflow where you want it to be?
Once you have decided what to improve then examine how your IT systems currently work to perform this task. Are they being used properly, can they be used better, are they being used at all?
It is quite easy then to look at how the IT system can be utilised in a better way. In terms of sales you could use an email newsletter to talk to customers more often, or perhaps use an autoresponder to reply quicker to enquiries. If it is efficiencies you are looking for then perhaps looking at better software or automate some spreadsheets. In some cases you can take tasks completely away from people and let the IT system do it, such as data import instead of data input. In terms of cashflow you can automate your chasing letters, send invoices and statements by email etc.
In short there is a lot of untapped potential in your IT systems and it doesn’t take a lot for some of that potential to be released, and then you and your team will become hungry for more.
If you have any stories of improvements you made which transformed your thinking about IT we would love to hear about it