A year ago, the pandemic left businesses with no choice but to shut down their physical operations, landing a massive blow to those who relied solely on direct selling. Three months into the lockdown, two-thirds of Australian businesses had reported losses, with 1 in 3 of those reporting over 50% loss. Digital became the only way to operate.
Despite having access to digital tools for years, businesses were slow and reluctant to adopt them. COVID-19 proved to be the wake-up call that many needed to embrace technology and ensure that their business was more resilient against future turmoil.
Introducing technology into your business
Why all the emphasis on technology?
Technology helps you efficiently manage workloads and meet customers' growing demands. It helps save effort and time by minimising your dependency on manual intervention and paperwork. From missed deadlines and inter-team communications to lead follow-ups and remote working, many business problems can easily be overcome by using the right digital tools.
That said, implementing new tech tools can seem like a daunting task. How can you incorporate technology in to your business without complicating things?
1. Identify your specific business problems
As the first step, identify what software your business needs. Every business is unique, with different functions and different employees, and not every software system will be applicable to your needs. When you start asking specific questions like what back-end operations need to be addressed right away, how to improve customer response times, or how you can get your sales and marketing team to work together, you'll start finding viable options in the market that cater to those particular problems. Once you're firm about which business processes you want to improve, it's also easier to determine the features you’ll need before investing in software.
2. Run a pilot program
When considering new technology, it's a good idea to double-check if the software system can meet your expectations. A pilot program is a brief experiment or trial run. Before investing your time and money on a solution, use the free product trials to test it on a smaller scale. Once you know it works for your business, you can officially introduce it across your organisation.
3. Train your employees
Many businesses still regard employee training as an expense instead of an investment. They don't realise that the purpose of adopting new technology is defeated when an employee doesn't know how to use it productively. Once you've chosen your software, help employees with the transition by providing hands-on training for it. Employees who are used to working in more traditional ways are likely to be overwhelmed at first. The key is to present a compelling case for the change, the problem you're trying to solve, and how valuable this software can be for your business.
4. Implement and evaluate
The final step in successfully implementing new technology is to assess its performance once it's been rolled out. This is the point where the software system's true limitations become apparent. Gather input from your staff to learn how it complements their current work processes and what concerns or issues they face while using the product. Use these findings to collaborate and come up with suggestions on how to get the most out of the product.
Integrating technology into your new business
If your business is relatively new and you're looking to incorporate technology, here are some good places to start:
Marketing: Whether it's building your website, setting up your email, or launching social media campaigns, there are many tools that can help simplify and manage your various marketing activities. Alternatively, you can also use a marketing automation solution to perform multiple marketing functions from one interface.
Sales: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software must be your go-to tool if you want to streamline the complex process of obtaining leads, following up, and converting them to customers. As a searchable database, it also allows you to access your past transactions with clients.
Finance: The right accounting software can help you monitor your business' entire spending from one place. From sending GST invoices and tracking payments due to verifying transactions and maintaining tax returns, you can use software to automate and accurately maintain your business' accounting operations.
Collaboration: Employees need the proper tech tools to work productively from anywhere. Investing in business communication software and an online file management tool can improve your work experience and make it easier to collaborate with your coworkers whether you work remotely or in the office.
Customer service: Customer experience can make or break a business. It's worth investing in the right technology so you don't miss out on any opportunities. Using help desk software, for example, lets your support team respond to customers and resolve their concerns without delays.
Now let's be real. No technology tool can transform your business overnight, but that's no reason to give up on it. In many cases, the time and energy you save by automating the routine aspects of your business can make the upfront cost of software well worth it. Even if you don't get the desired outcome from your investment immediately, using the right digital tools is often the foundation for long-term success. With digitisation ramping up across the globe, there's never been a time when that's more true than now.