How do Businesses Use Technology Effectively
The world is increasing its utilization of technology from governments agencies to education adopting technology as a means of improving service. In fact the most profitable organizations are through and through technology companies (i.e. Amazon, Google, Apple, and etc.) Even the slumbering giants that have held virtual monopolies in their industries continue to be shaken up in preparation or in defence of their market. Further technology has created a challenge in talent retention where high performing leaders are now looking for companies that use cutting edge technology. Organizations that adopt leading technologies will also find themselves attracting more talent (source), while organization that do not embrace new technology are at risk of losing their most senior talent. Executives are using technology to create efficiencies, cost savings, and redefine their industry.
Strategic Implications of Technology Providing Compounding Cost and Time Savings
Companies that have invested in improving processes with technology, have been able to achieve significant cost or time savings. Companies then are able to reinvest those gains for continued efficiencies and cost savings. To illustrate this example consider an organization that automated their payroll operations. Instead of doing it using paper or excel, they run a program to process all employee payroll calculations. If the organization saves 16 hours from using a system they can reinvest the spare time as follows:
16 Hours Saved in Payroll Processing Results in Strategic Benefits
- Having accounting staff pursue accounts receivables (increased revenues)
- Reduce the amount of time a staff is required to work (cost savings)
- Invest the time to investigate ways to predict bad accounts or to predict defaults (reduce operational risk)
- Greater job satisfaction from reduction of manual effort and routine work (reduction of HR costs)
A company can repeat this process to identify areas of improvement and create compounding returns on their operations. Yet without the culture shift that new technology brings, it’s easy to remain in the status quo and lose pace with competitor or industry entrants.
How Technology Makes a Difference: from Communication to Manufacturing
Business Communication Happens Instantly and Around the Clock
Technology has allowed teams to communicate instantly with one another. Platforms like Google Hangouts, Slack, and Skype for Business, allows people to self-organize and quickly disseminate information. The leap forward in communication allows for a convergence of communication technologies like social media, Internet forums, and real time collaboration. These tools allow teams to strike a closer experience to a live meetings through voice or textual conversations. With video conferencing and face to face meetings still being one of the most effective ways to interact. These tools enable teams spread across time zones to coordinate work more easily.
Keys to Implementing a Successful Enterprise Scale Communication Tool
- Track metrics to compare before and after: work on metrics like time to close issues, time to address customer request, time spent
- Determine your support strategy: will your team be supporting the tool or do you require maintenance and 3rd party support
- Have a pilot project use the product: communication tools can’t be fully realized unless there is a team that uses it to discover the pros and cons
- Determine what is culture versus product issues: identifying culture issues is difficult and sometimes requires a third-party input, so that internal impediments are clear and addressed
- Focus on team productivity versus adoption: a key mistake to finding the right tool is choosing one and forcing it on people, rather than allowing grass roots discovery and social referrals happen
Workforce Planning Today Means Anticipating Departures and Putting Right People Together
Talent and human resource technology has grown significantly. The shift in why HR technology has improved, is due to shifts in mindset of controlling resources to developing people and creating high performance teams while managing employee transition events (i.e. retirement, departure, project completion, and promotions). Talent management systems are helping organizations better manage and steward their people. No longer are professionals utilizing advanced spreadsheets that offered little value to the enterprise. Especially for organizations realizing that their most important asset are not customers or products, they have become people organizations. This affords an unprecedented ability to attract, develop, deploy, and retain resources becomes their key business. HR technology now provides empowerment for employees for self-service but more importantly for leaders, succession planning and resourcing insights while honing in on key gaps of skillset for seamless hire to delivery.
Keys to implementing a successful enterprise or company wide Workforce Planning System
- Create a talent ROI: organizations that do not know how talent management and HR impact their bottom line will always be at odds with HR tech investments
- Create a business case for packaged versus custom: know the difference between the two and learn how the option can empower or inhibit objectives
- Determine fit of vendors: work with the vendor to understand how long they’ve taken to deliver features of fixes
- Work towards executive alignment: align business leaders who stand to gain the most on the platform together
- Develop fit-gap of skillset: determine staff fit and gaps when identifying project needs
- Place the right people: often times a lack of HR data expertise creates issues with system deployment
Sales Technology Enabling the Right Message at the Right Time
Companies offer sales professionals an abundance of public information, when disclosing executive leadership changes, new products and services, or tenders. Until technology arrived it was often too time consuming or difficult to align these sources of information for insight and action. Tools like LinkedIn and CRM systems helps organizations each day and are becoming fundamental to the business development role. Software systems that can understand reams of content to identify opportunities are becoming more prevalent like Node which feeds data into a SalesForce system to automatically identify the next market opportunity. The dream of having sales development professionals armed with the right message at the right time has become a reality. Organization that are skeptical are further falling behind as they lose top talent (source). The market has evolved, the ability to embrace the right technologies remains a strategic item for sales leaders.
Strategies on Enabling leading Sales Technology
- Incentivizing teams rather than individuals: this allows a sales platform to incorporate the leading practices of your organization
- Ethnographic studies of sales members: know how your people interact with client and technology, start with identifying problems and opportunities
- Pay for the configuration: a lot of CRM systems promise a quick install and launch, but industry specific CRMs require integration with existing systems and lead sources
- Determine whether its worth paying for coding or configuration: companies must determine whether a packaged or custom software is a better fit
- Protect your customer data: ensure there are contractual terms to safe guarding customer data in event of vendor bankruptcy or breach
- Augment sales processes: work with your team to complement their best practices with technology rather than abandoning leading practices
Technology Helps Product Development Teams Create Reusable Innovation
Product development requires significant investment into capital and human resources. Organizations are creating software frameworks, business engines, and reusable components to push their products and services even farther. By identifying repeatable processes organization are using systems like custom software to manage a software release process and product introductions. The end result is the ability to focus on what is truly unique and strengthen repeat processes and internal controls. Often times video game companies will use a library of code or game engines to create new titles, enabling consistency and scale (source). Teams will then revamp the code based on new technology every 1-2 years with cycles tightening as industries progress. This can technology be so successful that companies can create new revenue streams, by licensing or subscription of their technology.
Keys to Implementing Product Development Technologies
- Identify similar patterns taken to development: these are the core application processes that can be supported and scaled
- Place star performers on the critical path: key performers should create systems and tech that lead to better products
- Opt for control and consistency: leverage custom technologies, as part of your competitive value chain
- Identify and mitigate key risks: gather data, systemize, and automate the uncertainties of your product develop process
- Create dissemination of innovation: hone in and quickly spread innovative tools and processes, create accessibility around these hubs of innovation using micro services, SOA, and code engines
Precision and Automated Manufacturing and Supply Chain
The manufacturing industry is characterized by automate or get scaled out. In North American jurisdictions, without a strong focus on technology most manufacturers have gone out of business, due to pressures from low cost competitors overseas. The ticket to survival requires adoption of platform integration, master data management, and data analytics. Without a highly integrated system gains in manufacturing efficiency continue to plateau, while materials and labour costs are rising in developed countries. By closely integrating systems this allows companies to better manage their sourcing, production, and delivery processes. Despite the efforts of supply chain integration, there remains significant work to create a master data management system. To truly enable a digital enterprise, organizations must understand and systematically manage their data to allow for real time reporting, predictive analytics, and automated adaptation of manufacturing processes.
Keys to Implementing Manufacturing and Supply Chain Technologies
- Create a centre of excellence: a group of experts, can retain enterprise learning, and support pilot projects and roll outs
- Reduce risk by piloting: convert manufacturing facilities in a step-wise fashion to manage risks of deploying new technology
- Have data champions: with so many data categories in a manufacturing process, identify data stewards to create order and standardization
- Work with staff who understand the process: allowing direct user input is key to allowing systems to support real business versus theoretical paradigms
- Aim for full traceability: design process and systems to support continuous traceability to identify hazards and cost savings opportunities
Engaging with Customers on Their Terms with the Right Timing and Message
Customer retention is key to an organization’s continued viability and growth. Acquiring a new customer is 25x more costly (source) than retaining a customer and ensuring clients have a great experience is essential to their retention. The convergence of customer relationship application and omni-channel communication can provide greatly improved interactions. Imagine the ability to understand a customer’s request, their inclination temperament, while aligning the ideal service rep to serve, retain, or upset the client across email, phone, and social media. This provides customers with an impeccable experience at every channel paving the way, for a customer to becoming a fan or micro-influencer. Interaction with customers have been a source of untapped knowledge for user experience and product research. Every interaction or feedback a customer offers is insight into a company’s product or service that can be further analyzed. This allows organizations to serve their customers across any digital channels while managing service metrics and quality at each step.
Crucial Considerations for using Customer Service and Technology
- Have diverse input: technology and forms of communication should be vetted by cultural representatives, to ensure minimization of offence
- Reduce risk by segmenting: identify low risk customer segments to target with new technology deployment
- Create a customer journey map: identify every stage of the customer journey along with the value offered at each step by your team
- Create a cost benefit for communication channels: identify high value channels and understand the costs to deliver
- Iterate on customer metrics: commit teams to review customer metrics alongside anecdotes of customer concerns or praise
Create a Business Case for your Organization for Transformation
Leaders who recognize the value of technology, next should look towards creating a business case for their initiative. This requires an understanding of the organization’s mission, while creating a rock-solid business case to demonstrate value. Too often organizations focus on costs of a project as opposed to the value it can bring. This is detrimental to many medium and large enterprises whose primary concern is cost reduction rather than value creation. A business case should clearly articulate cost of not enacting a project, as well as the potential revenue or savings gained. This enables competitive organizations to become leading organizations, alongside qualified partners.
Mindfield Helping Executives Lead with Technology
Mindfield has successfully helped organizations create business cases to guide technology adoption. Our clients become leading organizations differentiated with mission critical technologies that scale and accelerate and help them achieve their mission and mandates. Our teams successfully helped business leaders bring IT to the executive table. Mindfield specializes in custom software development, elearning for corporate training, and jira expert consulting.