Five technologies you can use today to improve business resilience
There's no doubt that we're living through some unprecedented times right now, bit it's worth using the current period to get your business ready for the predicted bounce back.
We've taken a look at some of the technologies we think should be the highest priority for businesses to implement in order to get through the next few weeks and months and to ensure that they're in the best position when the economy re-opens.
1. Software as a Service (SAAS)
Running most software on your computer is costly and inefficient. Not only do you have to buy the software with a lump sum of money, but you have to maintain the platform it's running on, you have to apply any updates yourself (and if it goes wrong, it'll be up to you to solve the problem) and after a certain period of time, you'll have to pay to upgrade to the newest version.
Cloud-based software as a service (SAAS) takes all of those problems away. Instead, you get a web portal that you pay a sum to every month and for that you can access it from any device in any location in the world. Backups are done automatically, as are upgrades and bug fixes.
Examples of SAAS include Sage One, Xero and Quickbooks for accounting, Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365 for productivity software, and ZenDesk and FreshDesk for customer support. A number of these also offer desktop and mobile apps to complement the online experience.
2. Voice Over IP (VOIP)
Voice over IP (VOIP) is a technology that allows your office to make and receive telephone calls without requiring a fixed telephone line. Offices with fixed lines may have found themselves setting their phones to voicemail over the last few weeks, missing out on calls from potential customers. Those using VOIP, which works over the internet, will have been able to carry on taking and receiving calls to their customers without any disruption.
VOIP systems are relatively cheap and easy to set up these days - for small businesses costs starts at around £15-£20 per user per month and uses an app installed on your mobile phone.
3. Cloud Hosting
Similar to software as a service (SAAS), if your company hosts its own applications internally then this can become difficult to manage remotely (or when the office is closed). Hosting applications internally means that you not only have to manage the code, but you also have to manage the servers and infrastructure.
By migrating applications to the cloud (Microsoft Azure or Amazon AWS), you're now free to concentrate on maintaining your applications. Azure comes with a lot of tools to manage development teams, projects and the deployment process as well. Both Azure and AWS have large-scale data centres worldwide and seamlessly handle server failures without anyone noticing.
Additionally, they have many thousands of employees managing and maintaining the infrastructure 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
No matter how large your business is, these are resources that just can't be matched.
We've all seen the benefits of working remotely - now it's worth looking at whether your employees are working effectively. In a recent discussion, there was a topic brought up about the idea of £1 tasks, £10 tasks and £100 tasks in a business, based around how valuable a specific task is to a business.
How much time are your employees spending on the £1 tasks? Wouldn't it be better if they were doing the £100 tasks instead? In many businesses, the £1 tasks - copying or entering data, standard replies to emails, creating reports and documents - take up a considerable proportion of the day. These tasks are also the boring, tedious and repetitive work that humans just aren't great at. Your employees become demotivated, productivity decreases and mistakes get made.
What if you could take those tasks away from your employees allowing them to do what they do best - talking to clients, solving business problems and being creative and innovative for your business? These are £100 tasks - and it's no coincidence that these are the things humans enjoy doing.
You can use automation today to take these low value, repetitive, boring tasks from your employees and have them running 24/7, running in the same way every time with no mistakes.
Many companies who adopt automation see large increases in motivations, morale and productivity amongst their employees. Additionally, their customers get a more responsive experience.
5. Social Media
Now is a great time to work on your social media channels. Social media is a great way to communicate with existing and potential customers, and best of all it only costs a bit of your time creating and posting content and responding to comments.
If you don't already have them, you should create company pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. One social media channel that many companies don't think about is Google My Business - being a Google product, this feeds directly into its search engine results.
Posting good quality engaging content is essential on social media. Without it, people will simply scroll past your posts. It's worth varying the content type as well - write blogposts and articles, create infographics or eye-catching posters, make a short video about a specific thing you do. Above all, make sure that you post content (whatever the format) on every social media channel you use and link it back to your website.
If you take a look at our website, you'll notice the messaging icon - Facebook makes it quick and easy to add these to any site so visitors can open a direct discussion with you with the minimal effort. Give ours a try and say hello!
This quiet economic period gives businesses some breathing space to simplify, enhance and adopt the right technologies to move forward. Use the time productively - look at what does or doesn't work for your business and get ready to hit the ground running as things start getting back to normal.