8 Ways Technology Is Transforming Business as We Know It
Technology continues to transform all aspects of our lives, and now we can hardly imagine living without the technologies that we have fully integrated into everything we do. The business world has experienced a similar change. Integrating advanced technologies into core operations has enabled small and medium businesses to compete with large organizations. Technology has also enabled businesses to serve their clients better and expand their operations fast. Here are some of the ways technology is transforming the world of business as we know it:
1. Remote Workforces
The conventional way of managing employees is monitoring their performance from their workstations in the office. In the past, business owners had to create new space for every new employee hired. Consequently, businesses were incurring high costs regarding office equipment, furniture, office supplies, internet connections, and communication lines among other items. Modern technology enables employees to work remotely even in teams.
Team leaders can hold virtual meetings with employees from different locations and give directions, and employees can form virtual teams to complete tasks from different geographical locations. In other cases, employers are entirely hiring virtual workers, tapping into retirees, stay at home parents, the disabled and rural workforces that cost less than someone commuting to the office. This is why Amazon is hiring virtual customer service workers in large numbers. Having a remote workforce does not only diminish costs but also leads to high levels of employee productivity. Employees work from a comfortable environment and sometimes at the most convenient time.
Technology is also allowing companies to hire freelancers through various platforms for tasks ranging from content creation to web design to data analysis. Instead of hiring a personnel management firm to find and vet contract workers, companies can hire the individuals they need for the specific tasks they need them for. Working through freelancing sites lets them find those with the right combination of skills and affordable rates while reducing the cost of the middleman.
2. Interactions with Customers
Emails and phone calls have for a long time been the most preferred ways of communicating with clients. These communication channels are effective, but sometimes customers find constant calls or emails from different service providers disruptive. Businesses now use mobile applications and social media to interact with their customers. Most people spend hours on the internet. Business owners are taking advantage of social platforms and applications to communicate with their customers. Mobile applications are slowly replacing websites regarding popularity and effectiveness. Developers are creating customized applications to suit each brand. Customers get notifications of new products or promotions on their mobile devices and respond promptly.
3. Cost Management
While technology has changed operations in business, some principles remain the same for businesses. A business has to lower its costs and increase its sales to increase its profitability. Therefore, it is now easier to lower costs with modern technology. For instance, software solutions enable companies to reduce the number of employees, especially on long-term contracts. To do so, companies only require a few employees to monitor the performance of the software. New communication solutions like Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) have led to low telephone call costs. Business phone service providers such as VoiceOnyx have introduced VOIP services to enable businesses to communicate effectively via the Internet, and an increasingly high number of businesses are turning to VOIP for a more effective and flexible alternative to traditional landlines.
4. Data Storage and Sharing
Companies no longer have large back rooms for their servers and storage equipment. Cloud computing allows business to store large volumes of data in remote servers. The technology has improved internal and external data sharing. Another benefit of cloud computing is that businesses can scale up their operations fast without worrying about downtime. Third party servers can handle high traffic, and large data flows effectively. The technology particularly benefits small businesses that often have challenges accessing data management capabilities. Cloud computing eliminates the fear of permanent data loss, which is possible with traditional storage systems. Supporting the ability of your staff to work anywhere on almost any device also improves productivity.
5. Automated Marketing
Marketing enhances the visibility of a brand in the market. Marketing is evolving rapidly as new marketing technologies hit the market. Sales teams now used automated software for social media scheduling, customer relationship management, and funnel management among others. Social media provides a great marketing platform for businesses. New technology enables sales personnel to schedule posts instead of creating new marketing posts every day. Technology also enables sales teams to automate email marketing messages and bulk text messages. The personnel can then shift their focus from sending messages to clients to other aspects of marketing.
Bots are increasingly used as a form of automated marketing. When you access a website, and a pop-up appears asking how you could be helped, there is more likely to be a chatbot at the other end than a human. The perception that someone is there ready and willing to help improves the company’s image with the site, while the engagement with the chatbot is more likely to lead to sales. A chatbot directing someone to the right product purchase page or technical support certainly makes customers happy and increases the odds they’ll buy again from you.
6. Shift to E-commerce
Internet connections are now fast and reliable in most parts of the world. Hence, most customers shop for services and products online first before visiting local stores. In fact, some customers would rather pay the shipping fee instead of moving from one store to another looking for an item. New technology enables a business to create online stores where customers can order items from any location. The cost of shifting to e-commerce has greatly reduced as well. Small and medium businesses can now afford to have physical and online stores to compete with established businesses.
E-commerce has had such a large impact that it is the reason why retail stores are suffering declines in sales. E-commerce doesn’t explain the many malls shutting down around the US; that is more often due to competition from newer malls with more recreational opportunities. However, the fact that several brand name retailers are shutting down due to competition with the web and a few will try to survive as online retailers are telling.
7. Changes in the Consumer Base
In the past, businesses have been targeting baby boomers with their marketing strategy. The generation accounted for the largest of the consumer base in most companies. Baby boomers also accounted for the largest proportion of the workforce. However, technology is changing the statistics, and this has a direct effect on the business world. Millennials are not only taking over the workforce, but also consumer bases in companies. The new generation has grown up with digital technology at home and in school. Nowadays, a significant percentage of online sales are from the Millennials. Baby boomers are still slow in adopting new technologies, especially for business transactions. The shift is significant to businesses because Millennials are more liberal in their spending than the baby boomers.
Millennial spending also differs from that of their parents by prioritising experience over the physical item itself. They value convenience, which is why same day delivery is becoming industry wide. They value customization, which is why “mass customization” is leaving manufacturers scrambling to combine mass production with a wide array of customization options. Millennials value experience over basic price, which is why having an engaging story to promote your brand is now essential to marketing to them. They also buy travel services, immersive entertainment and “experiences” far more than boomers. They eat out more, but they prefer dining/entertainment combos over fast food. They still shop, but they prefer businesses that provide an extra level of service and a sense of being catered to, even if it costs more.
8. Customer Segmentation
Different customer markets have always existed, but companies marketed to the mass market or as large a swath as possible because trying to track each customer segment by itself was too labour intensive.
Businesses require data to segment their customers and understand their needs and preferences, and modern technology is giving us this information. New technologies allow third parties to offer specialised analytics services to companies. Hence, businesses now have more information about their clients and develop an effective marketing strategy for each segment. For instance, it is now possible to check the customer’s location, browser, time spent on a company’s website, and search terms used to find the website. Companies use such data to improve their conversion rates, internal processes, and customer support.
Technology has transformed all aspects of business, including marketing, communication, data storage, and customer segmentation among other aspects. Business owners have no other option but to integrate new technologies into their processes. Failure to adapt new technologies will lead to a decline in competitiveness, sales, and market share. The speed of integrating modern technologies into business processes depends on the owners’ understanding of the effects of the technologies. Most of the technologies are designed to improve efficiency and save costs of specific tasks. Business owners and managers must learn to embrace new technology fast because innovations will continue to emerge in the future.