Just a few generations ago, there was no internet, no email, nobody had ever heard of social media, and smartphones were still science fiction. Today you can have almost instant communication with customers or partners on the other side of the world. Global networks and technology are gathering terabytes of data every minute. But rather than creating confusion, today’s technology is integrating all this into effective systems. Here are just some of the ways technology has streamlined business for 2017.
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Print ads and direct mail are now just a small part of marketing and advertising. Some companies ignore them altogether. Today’s consumers can be reached directly online through social media, email, forums, and even virtual stores.
Today, AI software is playing a bigger part in gathering information on internet users to personalize shopping experiences and display ads to each individual’s tastes and habits. Marketers can reach more people more effectively, and with less cost and effort.
Managers at both small and large businesses used to agonize over wasted time and materials. Often, they had no idea how this affected the bottom line until end-of-the-month financial reports were run. In modern business, technology makes it possible to collect information on nearly everything. Business management software is an essential part of 2017’s company infrastructure.
Managing your data means structuring and organizing it into enterprise systems such as data warehouses where it can be securely stored and effectively used. This is what makes big data analytics possible. It allows you to answer questions, forecast results, and provide real-time reporting to see how your processes and decisions are currently impacting productivity and profits.
With all of your competition just a Google search away, your company has to be more concerned with providing optimal customer experiences. Customers will abandon you for poor service even more than high prices or poor quality. Digital channels are becoming customer service channels. Your customers expect to be able to contact your support teams via social media, websites, mobile devices, and more.
Click-to-chat and click-to-call buttons are appearing everywhere. Lately we’ve been seeing the rise of the chatbots—AI software that can mimic human responses over chat to answer or redirect queries. This is a great advantage over those frustrating phone menus. Some customers won’t even know the difference.
Businesses through 2017 and beyond are continuing the trend toward more remote workers. There’s no reason to limit yourself to local talent when computing and the internet gives you access to third-party services, freelancers, and specialists all over the world. Better telecommunication systems have eliminated most of the old barriers of distance, time zones, and languages.
Mobile networks also help the main office communicate more effectively with mobile teams such as technicians, construction crews, and other service professionals. Both remote workers and field teams can be productive and in sync through smartphones and tablets, email, texting, and centralized online apps for scheduling and document sharing.
Video chat is transforming the way some industries operate, such as healthcare, where doctors can check on home-bound patients. But it’s an asset to any business, especially those with remote workers or multiple locations. Video provides intuitive visual clues that help us understand and relate to one another, an advantage you don’t get with email or text.
This can be a powerful tool in communicating with remote employees, making sales calls, and holding negotiations. It also helps in conducting meetings with multiple offsite employees or entire departments. The benefits and convenience of video chat and conferencing eliminate the time and costs wasted on travel.
Some of these tools have been around for a while, but in 2017 they’re becoming standard equipment for streamlining business operations. And as you might expect, these technologies are better, faster, and cheaper than ever before.
By Dixie Somers
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