Productivity is a key element in the profitability equation: even if all other elements in a business are managed well, poor productivity can significantly reduce your bottom line. It’s not merely about how hard individual employees are working either. The past few decades have seen huge leaps in productivity in businesses large and small, and much of this has been driven using technology. Here are some of the most important areas in which technology can make your business more productive.
Arguably, the one way in which businesses have universally benefited from technology is in improved communications. E-mail is an essential tool for all businesses and has brought with it leaps in productivity. By necessity, email is utilised by almost every business, but there is a wide range of communication technology that can boost business productivity. Take video conferencing, an excellent way for your business to reduce travel expenditure, letting employees working in different locations speak face to face without spending hours on the road.
Social media for business is also contributing to the effectiveness of employees. Now, employees can use services such as Yammer to share ideas and keep track of what their colleagues are doing in a seamless, automated fashion. A person working in a related but separate department can start taking action as soon as they notice a product launch plan on your internal social network, helping you to push the product out faster.
- Accounting and documentation
Running a business inevitably involves a lot of paperwork – except, in today’s online world, this paperwork is increasingly stored in electronic format, ranging from using an online receipt template through to a comprehensive invoicing package. Technology has dramatically reduced the need to physically manage paperwork: printing, posting and filing paper is time consuming. However, online accounting systems take away the need for all of this and are a huge aid in business productivity.
The benefits of electronic accounting systems are not restricted to productivity – you can save costs on paper storage and make sure you collect outstanding payments quicker than you otherwise would.
Your business can now target its advertising expenditure with laser-like precision and reach markets that would otherwise be off limits. Companies that provide online advertising facilities make it easy for marketing employees to use their time productively, by providing insight into customers and easy ways to share information.
Email is still key – offers, promotions and product announcements can be communicated instantly. However, you can further boost your productivity by making use of email more effectively: use automated mailing lists that facilitate customer targeting and get customers to interact with you on social media by placing links inside of your outbound emails.
- Reduce costs
It is every worker’s nightmare, but it is a business owner’s dream – replacing individual workers with technology has boosted business productivity and saved millions for companies all around the world. By saving money spent on manual tasks, you can invest more in getting better qualified workers in the key areas your business needs them – for example, hiring top creative talent instead of employing call centre staff.
Technology can save with the cost of workers in other ways. If you can reduce the need for workers to commute into the office, you can redirect funds spent on office space to more productive pursuits, for example your marketing budget. Technology is also replacing itself: many businesses have opted not to have on-site computer servers, instead making using of cloud-based computing.
- Business analysis
Business productivity and the availability of information often go hand in hand. If your business is unable to analyse its internal performance, it will find it difficult to find out where to improve productivity and profitability. Technology has made this task significantly easier than it used to be – though many businesses are still reluctant to make use of even simple spreadsheets to measure performance.
There is an increasing amount of information easily available to businesses, however, from statistics on a company’s website, through to the internal reporting tools in even the most basic accounting software. For example, by merely looking at the popular pages on your website you can see which product customers are most interested in, and which products you should focus on marketing.
Technology is not only about replacing slow, expensive workers with fast and cheap computers, but also about making workers collaborate better, based on better communication and increased access to information. Your business can make large leaps in productivity if it applies technology earnestly, and in the right places.