It goes without saying that every organization should be discerning when it comes to embracing and implementing new technology projects. Digital transformation should be about moving the needle on real business objectives, and not simply modernization for modernization’s sake.
This being said, there are a handful of truly exciting technology-driven tools that are poised to make an impact for companies of all sizes, from the small and growing to the global enterprise. Here are a few you should consider embracing this year — that is, if you haven’t already.
Teams is Microsoft’s chat-based workspace for Office 365 for connecting people, content, and conversations, to make collaboration within businesses more accessible and streamlined. It allows team members to communicate via chat or call and work on documents together in real-time, and of course, is neatly integrated with all the standard Office applications. Since its launch last year, Microsoft has dedicated a lot of product development effort to Teams, including a major recent update with app integrations, search and discovery features, and more.
Customer-facing teams like sales, services, and support all rely on critical information to perform. This information must be captured, centralized, shared, and updated in real-time in order for communications to be timely, accurate, and satisfactory to the customer. The best intelligent communications platforms not only accomplish this, but go a step further to ensure the right information is delivered to the right person at the right time. Context is everything, and in a world of ever-increasing notifications, the last thing you want to do is bombard your staff with irrelevant alerts. In addition, proper knowledge management empowers you to improve efficiency by standardizing response protocols for known issues or incidents.
Chatbots have been growing in hype over the last couple of years, but the technology is sure to explode into mainstream use this year, for both customer and B2B user experiences alike. You can implement chatbots for everything from customer service to appointment scheduling to guiding customers through the purchase process. Perhaps the most useful thing about chatbots is that allow you to design intelligent escalation processes, so that you can ensure that basic requests are handled while you focus solely on more high-level, detailed tasks.
Blockchain technology has so many applications beyond making cryptocurrency transactions instantaneous, decentralized, and independently verifiable. Businesses of all sizes and across all industries are already starting to embrace blockchain-powered solutions. Growing and popular uses include smart contracts (no need to print, sign, or scan!), notary services, digital identification, supply chain communications, gift card and loyalty programs. Blockchain works as a huge network spread across public or private computers, its transactions are much faster than say, using a bank; and because it stores real-time records of all transactions, it’s much harder to commit fraud. If used for financial purposes, business owners benefit from things like zero cost transaction fees and no exchange rates.
The problem with security needs is not that they aren’t considered or addressed, but that businesses tend to have a reactive approach. Rather than building security measures into the fabric of their IT, many business owners tack them on like a kind of afterthought. But when you’re dealing with sensitive information — which, by the way, carries certain compliance and privacy requirements — you’re a sitting duck for cybercriminals. Many business owners operate under the false assumption that things like ransomware only affect big companies, for instance, but the fact is that anyone and everyone is a target where financial gain is involved. Proactive security involves careful planning and strategic oversight, and involves a combination of the right technology-driven tools and adequate employee training. From multi-factor authentication to encryption services to anti-phishing tactics, you’ll want to fortify your security approach before something bad happens.
Technology should be the driver of your business, not the other way around. In a highly competitive market, business owners need to be free to focus on the strategic initiatives that matter, and can’t afford to be bogged down by things like IT administration and maintenance. The problem, of course, is that many businesses don’t have the resources and manpower to adequately manage their IT — and even if they do, it’s a constant struggle to optimize costs, justify investments, and retain the right talent. Leveraging IT automation takes all of these headaches off your plate. Rather than juggling all of your IT needs across different vendors and platforms, you can turn to an IT service provider that uses elegant solutions like IT-as-as-Service, which let you pick and choose exactly what you need in a neat, pay-as-you-go package. This helps you avoid the burden of unnecessary costs and complexity, and saves you time and money in the process.
When it comes to implementing new technology initiatives, remember not to get distracted by hype or misunderstanding the total costs of being afraid to implement new technologies and approaches. If you select solutions that directly address your business needs and objectives, allow you to become more efficient and effective, and make your work life easier, your investment is sure to pay off.
Michael L. Conn, Senior Cloud Computing Strategist, Nerdio
With more than 25 years of business experience working with tech companies, Michael Conn brings his knowledge and expertise to Nerdio as their Senior Cloud Computing Strategist. Michael specializes in helping Nerdio partners understand and develop new growth tactics and business drivers through existing and emerging technologies. Other than brushing up on the latest go-to market strategies, Michael is traveling, hiking, kayaking – or crafting history articles about the Mongol invasions of Europe and the Navarez expedition.