The Role of Technology in Modern Business Success

Have you ever been to a company where everything is still done the hard way? Where orders are hand written in triplicate, instead of being processed on a computer? Where accounting and calculations are still done with paper journals and calculators? Have you ever noticed how much longer everything takes, and how much more difficult it seems? Even though the results are the same, it is so much more labour intensive.

The truth is, when old-fashioned processes like that were the only options, businesses had far less competition. They could afford to take their time with things, because their customers demanded less of them, and they were secure in the knowledge that in spite of everything, they would still be there tomorrow, and the day after.

Those days are long gone.

These days, business is fast paced. It is about competing with many other companies, often around the world. It is about productivity and targets.

If you are still doing business the old-fashioned way, then you are probably not as successful in your business as you could be.

Let us consider some of the many advantages modern business technology offers the small business owner for a moment.

In the past, an international business call would be expensive. You would have to choose a time when you knew the person you would be calling would be in the office, and you would have to keep it short and to the point. Then, if you needed to send that person something, you would either have to send it via fax, or spend a small fortune on a courier or international postage.

Fast forward to today, and you can be at home, or anywhere else, with your laptop or a cell phone, and call your supplier or customer via Skype or on their cell phone. If you need to send them something, you could instantly email it to them, or simply share it on a service like GoogleDocs. You would have instant results, and you would be able to take immediate action, rather than waiting days or weeks.

Let us consider another scenario. In this one, your customer wants to place an order. In order to make that happen, you first have to check your stock records, or walk to your factory floor to check whether the item is in stock. Then, you would have to calculate their quotation by hand, and then write it in an order book, before filing the order in one of dozens of files, and walking back to the factory floor to arrange for delivery.

These days, your client can email you an inquiry; you can check stock on a computerised system, and email the quote to them. Once they have paid (by PayPal or internet banking), you process the order on the same computerised system, and send the delivery instructions to the terminal or printer in your factory’s despatch area. All in, the process could take minutes, rather than hours.

That is the advantage modern technology offers your business.

It allows you to do business globally, accessing new markets, finding new products and new business partners quickly and easily. It also allows your business to be streamlined, and to have greater productivity. Technology makes it possible for your business to have greater mobility, and it limits the possibility of human error.

From accounting to telecommunications, and marketing to customer relationship management, technology touches your business in countless ways.

Many business owners choose not to implement that sort of technology because they are worried about the initial cost. That is short-term thinking, however. Modern business technology can help you to reduce the number of staff you have to employ. Instead of an office full of people doing menial, labour intensive tasks, you can choose to work with a few highly intelligent people, who are more productive. Instead of the all too regular mistakes that come with human error, you can rely on purpose built software to get the job done correctly every time. Instead of missed opportunities, you can be in constant contact, even when you are on the other side of the globe, or on holiday.

The truth is, trying to do business in a modern world without the benefit of technology is a bit like trying to dig a hole with a stick. You will get there eventually, but if you are competing with someone who has a shovel, you are going to be left behind.

So if you are still trying to do business the old-fashioned way, and wondering why it is not working, perhaps it is time to look at how you can implement the technology that is already out there in your business. Your company will be more productive, you will have less managerial worries, and you will be able to compete with companies who already use technology in their business.

5 Technology Policies You Should Be Reviewing Now

Admittedly, we all have a little extra time on our hands this year. Hey, so now’s the time to take care of those important management details that help govern the operation of your business!

Technology-related policies reflect management’s intent to control their information system – the absence of policies usually reflects poorly in court of law and public opinion: if management never communicated a position on a technology governance to employees, customers, or vendors, then “Due Care” obligations could be considered ignored. Thus, it could be seen that management was negligent in their handling of an issue which extends liability, making it difficult to prove that “reasonable” precautions were taken in preserving customer data, securing network resources, or terminating an employee due to cause.

1. Write or revisit your Technology Plan (TP). The TP is a complementary document to your overall business plan and would traditionally be prepared by the executive responsible for technology strategy. It is usually 24 months in scope and identifies how tech spend complements your business strategy. It is an evolving document that lays down principles in how technology will be used and managed within your firm, and how tech relates to your success. This document should help guide your purchasing, management, and deployment of tech indefinitely, and should evolve over time as technology issues continue to shape the macro economy.

2. Write or revisit your Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plan (DR/BCP). Think about how critical software and hardware is to the execution of your business strategy. Think about how important the years of electronic data is to your ability to do your job. Now think about this stuff being wiped out in a flood, burned in a fire, or just the victim of bad luck – a hard drive failure. After Hurricane Katrina, more than 20,000 small businesses folded on the Gulf Coast because they didn’t have a way to recover their electronic data to resume business operations. Now is precisely the time to revisit how data is stored, how it is backed up, how it is moved off-site, and services would be restored in the event of an emergency.

3. Write or revisit your Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). The AUP is the most critical policy in your Administrative arsenal. It outlines to employees and others who use your electronic resources what rights and obligations they have in using your resources. It is usually the principal document that is signed at the employee hire that outlines what is good and bad behavior in using your resources, and is the governing document allowing employers to terminate for cause. If an AUP doesn’t exist, it’s difficult to suggest that expectations of behavior was communicated to employees and a wrongful termination defense could be mounted. An AUP should be an evolving document as threats in IT change every 24 months. Now’s the time to really take a look at this again.

4. Write or revisit your privacy policy and legal liability towards protecting personal private information (PPI). Your firm may be subject to federal or state regulations governing the security and privacy of electronic information – of patients, consumers, job applicants, or financial records. Fines are usually bestowed on a “per incident” basis, and if you have thousands of records outside of compliance, the liability is enormous. Further, it’s best practice these days to communicate to stakeholders up front how you manage PPI and secure it. If you don’t have a privacy policy, “Due Care” concerns could be raised that management was negligent in managing the private information of a party, which could result in civil tort for damages. Over 31 states have individual laws governing PPI; that in addition to the federal laws governing protected classes of information demands a thorough investigation in your compliance obligation.

5. Write or revisit your procedures governing employee terminations and audits. Finally, keep in mind the number one security risk for you during these economic times. It’s not hackers, viruses, or malware. It’s employees, and specifically, terminated employees who’ve still access to your confidential intellectual property. Now’s the time – if any – to revisit those procedures and verify that employee access restrictions are performed, documented, and reviewed.

Policies, procedures, work instructions, and plans are Administrative Controls that reflect management’s _intent_. If management’s intent isn’t communicated, and technology is governed by assumption and intuition, then management isn’t “managing” technology – they are hoping for the best without taking on responsibility to effectively govern it. Now is your chance to reflect upon how your intent is reflected in the workplace and how well you’ve addressed technology “Best Practices” and regulatory compliance issues as a management team.

Business Intelligence For Effective Dealings

In today’s economy businesses no longer only have to deal with local competition. Today’s global community has made competition among businesses fiercer. This is why more and more small and large companies are turning to business intelligence to increase their efficiency.

This intelligence refers to computer based methods in organizing information for easy access to particular information when you need it. One technique used within this method is data sourcing. This may mean the gathering of documents, photos, images, tables, web pages, or any other source of data and have it organized and stored in an electronic format.

Once all of the information has been gathered this data is then analyzed. It is analyzed to help make business decisions. This analysis helps forecast current business trends. It summarizes information and helps break down normally hard to understand information into small pieces. Different theories are used at this stage depending on the type of data that is to be analyzed.

When the information is getting analyzed, irrelevant data is filtered. The information that is left is put in relevant context to the business environment it is in. This means that it is summarized in terms of economic policy, market forces and other factors that may have an impact on your business.

Once the information has been collected, sifted and analyzed, an action step is then recommended. This recommendation will help you assess different options for current and future risks, otherwise known as risk assessment. Cost benefits are taken into account when you make one decision over another. This business technology is in place to help summarize the best options for the choices you have available for your business.

Business intelligence helps both business owners and employees use this information for making important decisions. Individuals using such technology are forewarned of critical events such as company takeovers, changes in the market and low employee performance. This is all information that helps someone in a decision making position make the right choices for the company that will help develop customer satisfaction and help boost sales.

In theory, the business intelligence method sounds great. However, in order for this method to succeed, this success is based a lot on human implementation. In order for this method to be a successful in a business setting, it has to be strictly implemented by project management.

A clear vision has to be in place for this technology as well. Management has to oversee, as well as support, personal using this technology. The quality of information that is being fed into the system has to be clear and accurate in order to receive clear and accurate output.

Businesses that do not use business intelligence technology successfully, have often failed to realize the importance of project management. The technology will not give accurate results if the people involved do not implement the change in the ways they do business. In order for this technology to be used successfully, it has to be intertwined with human interaction. Creating a strategy, planning, risk assessment, performance feedback are all important factors for the successful use of this new business technology.