When it comes to running a business, cutting costs and maximising efficiency is the name of the game. This may make some business owners reluctant to invest in new technologies due to the costs.
The previous year may well go down where even the most tech reluctant businesses finally began to embrace it. Equally, it’s the year in which those businesses that thought they were already forward-thinking suddenly realized they’d been missing out on technology that could save them vast amounts of money.
The year that so many companies were forced to embrace the tech allowed workforces to work from home, as coronavirus measures led to a mass requirement for social distancing. Realizing this tech is already available and that it works has thrown up huge questions around the need for costly central office space.
But as we all embrace Zoom, Teams, Google docs, Trello boards, and other tools that allow us to communicate and collaborate effectively from a distance and with fewer business overheads, it raises a question about what else is out there that we’re failing to utilize fully.
Rest assured though, that new technologies can actually save money and lower costs in the long-run, as well as making tasks easier and less time-consuming. So, how can modern tech lower costs for your business?
Here are a few of the already well-established technologies that could be saving your business money.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
There are a huge and growing number of enabling technologies for all types of businesses that provide insight and explanation of data beyond what any human could achieve in a similar timescale.
Finding the right tools to save your business money is really about analyzing the pinch points of tasks that take a lot of time and then finding the software, app, or machinery that is likely out there to fix it.
AI solutions are now available for a massive range of processes.
Communications professionals who used to manually trawl newspapers to find coverage of their brand and respond as necessary can set up systems that allow that to happen at the touch of a button.
Human Resources teams can tap into and understand data on staff absence that may expose managers or colleagues’ issues that can be resolved through training and avoid costly departures from the business and recruitment drives.
AI stands to transform the role of accountants and accounts departments completely, taking over a lot of day-to-day processing and logging, freeing them to review costs, and innovating on how to make savings.
Time, as the saying goes, is money. And, as a business owner, you don’t want to be wasting time on anything — let alone tasks that don’t necessarily create any income.
As such, there are plenty of tools that you can utilize to save money through efficiency. For example, there are communications tools ranging from multi-line phone systems to instant messaging platforms such as Slack.
With a multi-line phone system, employees can speed up communication with each other and with customers. This means you’ll be able to make business decisions faster — jumping on opportunities to maximize profits. Plus, customer-facing staff will be able to engage with potential buyers more quickly and retain potentially disgruntled customers, making your business more resilient.
Another way businesses can save time (and money) is by automating as many systems as possible. Automating tasks has proved controversial but, for small businesses, in particular, automating inventory and accounting tasks can save money and make staff happier.
Digital point-of-sale systems, for example, can automatically manage product inventories — making it easier to keep track of what’s in stock and what isn’t. This will also improve customer satisfaction as they’ll be able to see which products are available to buy now, without hesitation.
3. Improving Security
Tightening your security might sound time-consuming and potentially unnecessary. However, in a world where business deals are organized over email and transactions are handled digitally, ensuring your business has a stringent IT security system should, arguably, be your first priority.
The costs of failing to secure your IT infrastructure can be huge — if you’re in Europe, your business will be subject to GDPR rules that can carry huge penalties. And, even if you’re outside the EU, the reputational costs of a big data breach can cripple your business overnight — remember Ashley Madison?
Fortunately, there are plenty of easy ways to raise the drawbridge against online threats. A lot of companies are already employing VPNs to shield internet traffic from potentially shady wifi networks. VPNs, reroute your internet connection through different servers to protect the data your sending online.
Another way to secure your business’ data is by utilizing password managers. A password manager creates super-strong passwords for all the websites and apps that require a password to sign-in. All you have to do is remember one single master password. This can help make your security credentials almost unbreakable — keeping all your data secure and helping you save time and money.
Digitizing records can be another effective way to save costs and improve security at the same time. Digital CRM or POS systems, for example, can keep all your records stored locally, as well as in the cloud, giving your business an effective back-up of important records and documents. Plus, if your data is stored entirely in the cloud, you won’t have to worry about potential office burglars stealing your valuable data storage.
4. Online Presence and marketing
Websites and social media presence are so much more than a ‘nice to have’ additional item.
Whatever sector you are in, an efficient, up-to-date, and comprehensive website and social media presence can save and make you money.
Lost custom is one of the worst ways of losing money, and if your website and social media aren’t as good as your competitors, it’s likely your customers will go to them.
Installing chatbots and live chat buttons is a way to hold on to customers. In the case of chatbots, those that are well set up and can provide useful information and answers will save your staff time answering questions and free them for more lucrative tasks.
Robust analytics from your website and social media can expose what your customers are really interested in and help you invest in those rather than waste time and money focusing on other areas.
You can also spread marketing messages far and wide through creative engagement, often without any specific outlay.
It’s often said that technology has shrunk the world and, for businesses, this is definitely true. Employees can now work from home without any hindrance, thanks to web-based apps such as Gmail and Slack. Plus, the growth in VoIP technology means that workers need not attend meetings in person — instead, they can dial-in just as easily.
Another benefit of easy remote working is that staff will feel more trusted and potentially more inclined to stay with your company. Employees who can work from home around childcare, doctors’ appointments, or even tradespeople, will feel more accommodated for, giving them a greater job satisfaction.
One of the biggest challenges for businesses is making sure that staff have the skills to grow and thrive within the modern world of work. Prior to the internet, this required lengthy and time-consuming training courses — which ate into valuable time at work. However, training courses are widely available online, from coding to SEO skills and everything in between.
What’s more, online training courses are often cheaper than in-person courses. This means that, firstly, you don’t need to shell-out as much to upskill existing staff and, secondly, you won’t need to hire new staff to plug skills gaps.
6. Telematics for out-of-office staff
Businesses that have a lot of stuff out on the road, whether it be delivery services, sales, or anything else, are likely to face many associated costs.
Telematics and fleet tracking systems will help plan journeys better, assign the best people to jobs, and help your staff understand their own driving to make it more efficient and safer.
Telematics systems tend to reduce speeds and collisions, keeping your workforce safer and preventing the heartache and hassle involved when things go wrong on the road.
Above all, tech offers significant efficiency benefits to modern businesses. From speedier communications through VoIP and multi-line phone systems, to elimination of errors through digitized systems, modern tech makes the process of running a business almost seamlessly.
The reality is that your competitors may already be embracing some of these technologies and experiencing the gains they bring. Can you really afford to be left behind?
And, while there are significant challenges facing modern businesses, there are myriad tech solutions available to help business owners overcome these hurdles, whilst keeping employees happy and motivated.