We are now living in the age of the 4th Industrial Revolution. This constitutes a crucial junction for small and medium businesses (or SMB’s). Companies these days are required either to choose to embrace & integrate technological advancements or continue with old methods & risk being left out of the loop. The latest technologies and a comprehensive digitalization of the workspace can spike company productivity by implementing rapid and efficient solutions to a whole slew of challenges a business might face. Companies that embrace digital innovation also reduce energy consumption providing a much-needed environmental break. It does so while streamlining and improving production processes, connectivity, and better working conditions of employees in 4.0 businesses around the world.
Let’s look at six different approaches to improve your company’s efficiency while avoiding productivity losses that are typical of technologically disorganized working environments.
Investing in intuitive technology
New technologies, from cloud computing to IoT systems are having a considerable effect on the way people use the internet for work. Highly intuitive tools such as these are increasing the demand for technology that supports businesses. The “smart” prefix has become an all-encompassing term for the new wave of tech from the 2010s. Almost everyone these days is familiar with the term (“smartphone”, “smart-car” “smart-house” etc.). However, it may seem to be complex for some. Therefore, the primary objective of any purported “smart” solution is a guarantee of user-friendliness, intuitiveness and automation. Automation is an integral part of simplifying even basic tasks in the workspace. Once any device or software has been efficiently automated it frees the user from the time-consuming activity of having to insert user preference with every access or usage. For example, the best scanning software’s include pre-configuration of common tools, such as “save to-destinations” settings for multiple users. After the initial setup, users can easily streamline scanning, development and storage of documents.
Business apps, remote working and e-learning
In today’s world that is driven by digitalization, several business-oriented apps can be linked seamlessly to company servers making work documents and memos accessible even from home. Remote working stations are on the rise reducing or eliminating time-wasting commutes while also providing employees huge advantages by optimizing daily tasks from the comfort of their own of homes. Businesses also benefit from cutting rental and commuting costs while achieving higher levels of productivity. E-Learning tools are also becoming widespread. Any new employee can receive immediate job training from many E-Learning platforms normally subdivided into two groups:
Platforms which usually have the disadvantage of not being customizable.
2. Open Source:
Modular platforms that are continuously updated by communities of developers and which can be customized as per the customer’s specific needs.
Improving communication, organization and reachability
Integrating communicative collaboration tools provides businesses with an increased degree of connectivity between employees. There are a plethora of free-to-use applications such as Google’s cloud-based suites to share documents and information with remote and off-site workers. Google Hangouts, Slack, Cisco Park and Workzone are just some of many cloud-based proprietary platforms used to communicate effectively between colleagues, many of which offer top-notch security for sensitive company messages and data. This software also allows an incredible versatility that simple emails cannot compete with. The most vital business discussions are more accessible. There are dedicated spaces for different work topics instead of one single overstuffed inbox and many other features designed to simplify communication and reduce the physical barriers between employees.
Cloud-based time tracking software is also incredibly useful when it comes to managing and monitoring employee hours, mileage, expenses and other logistical factors. Vital company info can be stored and accessible to supervisors, employees and even clients. This also ties into reachability, especially concerning remote workers and customers. Updating mobile devices and communicative software is essential to keep all parties well-informed. A missed phone call or an unanswered email can sour or even ruin a potential business deal. UC (Unified Communications) for businesses is becoming a mainstay in modern companies with platforms that integrate calls, chat, video conferencing, fixed-mobile convergence (e-mail, voice mail, faxes), data sharing and other mobile features in one, completely integrated system.
Better organized email and invoicing systems, avoiding paper usage whenever possible
Archives are of fundamental importance to a business. Therefore an archiving system can either simplify activities or generate problems (especially when using dated or obsolete versions). Better organized E-Invoicing and emailing practices can also help reduce not only waste of paper and ink but the carbon footprint caused by emails themselves (The Watt usage of eight emails causes the same amount of pollution as a car driving for 1km).
E-procurement is the process of managing purchases of goods and services for businesses through digital platforms.
Gregoire, the CEO of Uppler explains that E-procurement cuts cost in the purchasing and logistics department while bolstering staff productivity due to improved and simplified user-friendliness and superior security for B2B transactions. Furthermore, information on transactions can be easily handled in house or in the cloud. This would make them accessible to employees through multiple channels through the internet.
Uppler makes it easy for the purchasing department to search, evaluate and select from a multitude of different suppliers, thereby guaranteeing an efficiently streamlined logistics department. It also helps to negotiate the price of goods, services, raw materials and even personnel with every supplier to get the best possible rates to the company. This means collaborators in one company do not have to invest time and money looking for specific products and contractors. Security of transactions is also hugely improved as all legitimate E-procurement platforms operate by a strict standard that ensures data recovery and maintenance as well. All activities relating to purchases and sales undertaken by both the buyer and supplier can be verified and tracked, guarantying total transparency on both ends.
Technology and digitalization are changing the way we do business. Being in the loop or even ahead of the curve is crucial and vital for continued success. Not only that, but the benefits in employee & client satisfaction and positive effects on the environment (digitalization reduces manufacturing wastage and transport costs) are too many to be ignored.