Source: On-demand BDC webinar https://www.bdc.ca/en/articles-tools/entrepreneur-toolkit/webinars/covid-19-technology-efficiency
Many businesses are still recovering from COVID-19 consequences. They experienced revenue stream losses, various expenses, and sales downturns. Luckily, the economy is slowly recovering. As a result, entrepreneurs should consider how they can embrace digital disruption while positioning themselves for future growth. After all, technology is one of the only things that can help you survive new market circumstances by increasing your revenue, productivity, efficiency, and profitability.
Relationship Between the Current Economic Situation and Your Business
To enhance business productivity, each entrepreneur must keep up with the current economic situation.
The economy has been in recession for the last two years. Consequently, many companies have lost their revenue, whereas others have cut their operating costs as a last resort. Thousands of people have lost their jobs, and the unemployment rate is higher compared to the 2008 and 2009 recessions.
Fortunately, the economy seems to be back on track, and many new job positions are opening up. Businesses are now trying to predict and understand how people will spend their money in this new environment. However, the recovery will be slow, according to BDB statistics. This is because:
The economy usually takes time to recover, and the pandemic is still affecting the country;
Business investments are currently low;
Consumers are staying cautious, and their purchasing power has decreased.
Importance of Digital Tools for Your Business
Businesses that have started investing in technology experience higher revenue growth and profit margins. By transferring their operations online, they want to:
- Enhance their efficiency;
- Streamline their operations;
- Sell products online;
- Promote telework;
- Offer remote services.
Utilizing Technology to Build a Leaner Business
It is crucial to leverage technology, as it may help you increase your profits and productivity. Plus, it could provide additional value to your customers. In BDC’s survey, companies that adopted digitalization were able to boost productivity, reduce operating costs, and improve the quality of their products.
Below, you will find some guidelines that will help you achieve operational efficiency using technology:
- You cannot use technology to fix your business overnight;
- Technology is a tool that can improve and facilitate your work and drive results — you cannot treat it as an answer to all your problems;
- With technology, you can continuously improve your operations.
Maximizing Operational Efficiency
By eliminating waste regularly, your business can maximize technological progress and create a culture of continuous improvement. You can do this by:
- Identifying and eliminating waste entirely;
- Creating an easy transition between steps in business processes;
- Enhancing your customer’s experience and increasing sales by utilizing technology.
Using Digital Technology to Drive Results
Customer support is, without a doubt, one of the pillars of any successful business, and your clients expect it to be at the highest level. Technology can assist in meeting these expectations by:
- Enabling you to produce quality goods, automate processes, and provide excellent customer service;
- Helping you collect and analyze data to identify your business’ highs and lows;
- Allowing you to enhance your productivity, collaboration, and efficient utilization of employees and resources;
- Helping you become more productive.
Identifying and Enhancing the Effectiveness of Technological Tools
In order to select the best tech solution, you will need to understand your business problem, the end-user experience, and efficiency metrics fully. By using digital dashboards to gain insights into your setbacks, you can:
- Analyze your ecosystem’s vital metrics;
- Monitor the efficiency using the real-time data;
- Ensure key personnel are aware of situations that need immediate attention.
To maximize the application and implementation of your company’s technology, you can use paperless work instructions that will help you:
- Collaborate with your engineering and operations teams more efficiently;
- Give clear instructions;
- Create and modify documents more quickly;
- Reduce training time by using the latest guidelines.
4 Strategies to Succeed at Using Digital Technologies
Your business can reap tremendous benefits from technology if you make an effort and follow these four strategies:
- Decide what your digital vision is — Creating and establishing your objectives and vision on how digital technology can support your goals will save you time and money and prevent you from making costly mistakes. Prior to structuring your vision, scan the digital market to determine which factors influence your business. Identify the top technology trends, roadblocks, and potential risks in your market and industry.
- Develop a digital strategy — Besides vision, having a plan will get you the desired results. To build a digital strategy, you need to:
- Analyze the current state of your business and the systems you are using;
Employ only the right tools to serve your customers effectively and eliminate waste;
Focus on those projects that have a significant impact and aline with your vision (quick projects are often more effective and less costly; plus, they can serve as a foundation for long-term projects);
Recognize new opportunities and areas that require improvement;
Choose the right digital tools for each project.
- Follow a disciplined approach — Discipline is essential, as this is where most businesses fail in their digital transition. The best way to find the right solutions, avoid mistakes, and ensure proper quality is to execute a rigorous selection process that requires:
- Evaluating potential solutions and vendors that guarantee scalability and trustworthiness;
Establishing a clear business problem and functional requirements;
Reviewing vendor proposals carefully to avoid hidden costs.
- Ensure good governance — Monitoring your business’ plans, vision, and performance is crucial for the successful execution of digital strategy. That’s why assigning responsibilities is of utmost importance. You can establish a good governance structure by:
- Selecting the right people to lead the charge and senior leaders to supervise the projects’ implementation and completion;
Providing adequate support and training to ensure your team buys into the new ideas;
Maintaining a culture of improvement in your organization by reviewing your digital strategies constantly;
Keeping the momentum going — it’s your best bet!
Mistakes to Avoid When Introducing a New Technology
Investing in digital technology may increase productivity and reduce costs. However, these tools take time and constant monitoring. Several mistakes can hamper or delay the success of new technology, such as:
- Introducing the required technology late;
- Not consulting experts when selecting, adopting, and implementing complex tools;
- Lack of transparency and communication with your employees regarding the technology, its usage, and effects on your business operations;
- Inadequate training of your employees and a lack of their support regarding implementation of new technology;
- Weak evaluation of incoming technologies, which would determine if they are compatible with existing systems and whether they can deliver the intended results;
- Inadequate implementation control, where people are encouraged to embrace change and not allowed to go the old ways.
7 Tips to Improve Your Cybersecurity
Digital technology may be safe, but it’s not immune to hackers. That’s why top-notch security measures are a priority for every entrepreneur. This is what you should do:
- Choose strong passwords and authorization tools and optimize the internal security system;
- Monitor and control access to your applications and data;
- Train your staff about hacking and other security threats;
- Ensure the vendors you work with meet your security requirements;
- Keep your tools up to date for easy protection;
- Be cautious when engaging with suppliers and partners in the digital realm to minimize security loopholes;
- Ask for an expert’s opinion.
Digital Transition: How-To
Although identifying the right technology can be challenging, you should invest in areas that are crucial in order to create a good foundation for future improvements. These are:
- Ecommerce — a must-have technology in the current business environment;
- Integrating marketing, sales, communication, and customer service in a single backup system;
- Maximizing your operation’s efficiency by automating your finance, inventory, and supply chain processes.
To achieve your business vision, carefully plan your digital road map. Identify the gaps and loopholes, and take your time to:
- Learn the principles behind digital transitions — a number of articles written by experts can be found on Google;
- Gather ideas, analyze, and discuss them to determine where your business needs improvements;
- Consult experts for help;
- Find out what works well for your competitors, both inside and outside your production line.
Embracing Digitalization While Overcoming Financial Constraint
In the event of any financial limitations, analyze your financial capacity and plan your flexibility accordingly by:
- Looking for ways to improve existing technology if the funds for new tools aren’t available;
- Planning your technology strategy over a few years to give your business the financial flexibility to adopt these technologies once the funds are available;
- Leveraging loans and grants to remain productive and meet your customers’ needs in an ever-changing market.
Lastly, be cautious when dealing with software providers. Make sure to select what fits your business needs and not what providers claim to have.
Helping Your Customers Embrace Digital Technology
Businesses have to analyze consumers’ behaviour and consult them adequately prior to getting them to embrace new technology. Even then, the process might not go smoothly. Here are a few tips on how to improve the acceptance of your tools.
- Make people aware of the tools that are available;
- Educate your consumers about how technology can ease their struggles and increase convenience;
- Provide easy-to-use and customer-friendly tools;
- Ensure technology meets all your customers’ needs in one place.
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