The first thing that comes to mind when the topic of technology in business is explored is usually building an app. A large number of start-ups are pushing towards building the next ingenious app that will hopefully be worth billions of dollars. However, building a business around tech is not limited to building the next big social media platform or developing an application. It includes creating innovative tech solutions that solve critical issues such as access to water, energy, health services or financing as well as making processes in business easier and less labour intensive.
Whatever solution a business offers, combining it with technology benefits the business in various ways:
- Allows for remote working
The COVID-19 pandemic increased the need for most businesses to pivot and be able to operate with their teams working remotely. The use of cloud powered applications and a reliable internet connection enables teams to communicate and collaborate from any location; therefore it is possible to have team members in different countries. The increased use of email and phone, file sharing and storage tools such as Google Drive and team management tools such as Bitrix or Basecamp enables teams to operate smoothly.
In May 2020, Twitter announced that their employees are welcome to work from home ‘forever’ if their home situation enables them to do so. This could possibly be the new normal for most businesses when the pandemic ends. According to Forbes, the main cause of workers changing jobs is finding another that offers flexible working hours. With many industries having managed to shift to remote work well, the workforce is thriving as they are able to experience a better work-life balance.
- Helps your business go global
Thanks to technology and the internet the smallest of businesses can create a global presence. Local makers from across the world can now set up e-commerce stores and sell their products to international customers. For a long time, African retailers and customers have been unable to purchase or sell products beyond their country borders and this is fast changing due to increased access to the internet across the continent.
According to DHL, the ecommerce industry in Africa could be worth US$75 billion by 2025. DHL has made strides to offer logistic solutions to African e-commerce stores so that their products can reach international markets under the DHL Express department. Currently DHL Express is present in 34 African countries and expanding. A popular e-commerce platform that DHL integrates with is Shopify. Shopify is a platform that allows anyone to set up an online store and sell their products. It is available for use in most African countries as well. Shopify has hundreds of built in tools that can help manage and grow a business.
- Secure document storage
Data is an important asset of any business. Having a trail of all business documentation is crucial. Where and how the information is stored is paramount. Digitising data storage has several benefits which include:
- Lower costs by reducing paper consumption and less use of physical storage space.
- Easier access to information by using the selected software search function instead of physically going through thousands of folders to find a file. This in turn increases worker efficiency and productivity.
- High security by giving access rights according to specific job requirements. Online cloud storage guards against failures such as server crashes and power outages
A lot of accounting softwares such as Quickbooks have options of subscribing to an online package. This accounting function is therefore not restricted to a physical space and source documentation can be uploaded to the system and be a backup for the physical documents. Team members can input and access information remotely.
- Increase of efficiency
Implementing tech tools increases efficiency as it helps in automating a lot of manual tasks and streamlining workflows by applying the right software systems. Mailchimp, an all-in-one marketing platform, has the functionality of automating customer responses tailored to a business’ needs. This enables more time to be allocated to other important tasks while the Mailchimp system takes care of email responses.
Another way that efficiency can be improved is by subscribing for a CRM ( customer relationship management) tool. A CRM tool enables businesses to store customer/lead information in a central place, track all related information and be able to share this information with work colleagues.Through the use of the system it is easier to prioritise leads that are most likely to convert into sales and helps to continue after-sales care with customers easily. All customer interactions are stored in one place and this helps in delivering the best customer experience.
To summarize, learning and implementing tech tools in a business is something that can seem daunting and difficult, however, the benefits of doing this will help businesses to always be one step ahead and continue to provide the best services and products to their customers. It also helps to keep costs low, increase team morale and hopefully in turn increase the profitability of the business.
How have you digitised your business processes since the pandemic hit? Share in the comments section below: