Integrate Technology and Supercharge Your Business

Business Insights

By Gary Keating

Technology isn’t merely something that businesses can choose to engage with as and when they see fit. It has become an intrinsic part of the modern working world, and that’s never been more apparent than in these current times, when assets like video conferencing are quickly replacing the previous status quo. Virtual is the new normal, and businesses will need to engage with technology from many angles. Whether its virtual conferencing or blockchain technology, your aim needs to be to make the customer’s experience streamlined, authentic, and predictable as well as enabling your team to work more efficiently.

Saving Time for the Important Tasks

It’s been interesting to chart how businesses have slowly integrated more and more technological solutions. One of the biggest changes most would have noticed is the shift from taking bags of expense receipts to your accounting team, to having those processes uploaded to services like SAGE and Xero. This may seem like a strange example, but it exemplifies the ways in which technology should solve problems: it reduces unnecessary admin, so that more important aspects – including business development, training, and client acquisition – can be prioritised. In recent years, one of the prime changes in technology has been how ubiquitous it has become. By this, I mean businesses making the most of globalisation, and models that would have been previously restricted to the vast multinational corporations. For example, I have a client who has 40 people in the Philippines making phone calls and appointments; this isn’t a vast off shore customer service department that would have been created solely for use by a large corporation, but is instead the sort of service available to all SMEs today.

Growth Areas in Tech

When it comes to the types of technology that businesses should be engaging with, the answer is innumerable. Social media, email marketing, and podcasts can all be essential tools for both business development, as well as internal communication – particularly the latter – as more and more businesses start producing in-house podcasts to keep teams up-to-date with goings-on and changes. Perhaps one of the most exciting pieces of tech we’ll soon see becoming a crucial part of a brand’s strategy is the chatbot. Soon, brands won’t be able to proceed with their online presence without having a chatbot available for users of their site. People are becoming less willing to pick up the phone and have a lengthy conversation, so these chatbots will fill that gap and make the end-user experience a convenient and fulfilling one.

Alongside chatbots, the current global crisis has proven that people often opt for video calling somebody – whether a client, customer, or just a friend – over a regular phone call. This aligns with the need for human interaction, and a video conference allows more personable and meaningful interaction than a phone all could ever offer.

All these elements of technological integration aren’t going to operate in isolation, of course. Soon, we’ll be seeing chatbots combined with video calls, so a customer can come to your site, begin a conversation with a representative, and then see that representative face-to-face to continue the sale, negotiation, or whatever it is they are hoping to get out of that interaction.

Not too long ago, for example, I was visiting one of my business clients, and as I entered their office, a friendly receptionist greeted me on a screen. She asked if I would like a coffee and all the usual conversation, and then prompted me to join the meeting in another room.

Once in the meeting, I asked where the receptionist was located in the building, and was informed she was in a centre in Manila, in the Philippines. So while it appears she’s sat in an office in the UK, she’s actually thousands of miles away and working remotely.

While Zoom and Skype and other video conferencing services are huge now, we’ll soon have smaller, more convenient versions of these concepts appear alongside chatbots on websites,so customers can get that one-to-one interaction which drives growth.

The Importance of Getting Advice

There are certainly obstacles and challenges to avoid when integrating technology into your business's processes. These pitfalls mainly come from the fact that there’s so much software available, and everybody selling it will tell you it can solve any issue imaginable.

This is one of the biggest problems I’m seeing SMEs come up against: they haven’t decided what the problem they’re having is, or what type of solution they would like, and so they end up with 500 different apps that are all supposed to change the way they operate. People buy the technology without initially buying the advice, and I think in today’s landscape, the advice can be far more important. Ultimately, it always comes down to pairing technology with the right kind of advice. That way, a business can get the kind of outcome it’s looking for, and not just end up with a piece of technology that solves a problem they were never having, or fails to mitigate a challenge that’s impacting their day-to-day operations.