There are an estimated 30 million businesses of all shapes and sizes in the U.S., and one of the few things most have in common is a reliance on technology to drive efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Here are five essential technologies to help make that happen:
When The Atlantic magazine put together a list of the "50 greatest breakthroughs since the wheel" in 2013, it ranked the printing press No. 1 and the personal computer No. 16. Much has changed over the past four years, but basic capabilities--printing, scanning, and processing information--remain backbone technologies for most businesses.
Research suggests that the average office worker prints 10,000 pages per year, and between 40 and 60 percent of IT help desk calls are print-related. At many businesses, printing is the third-highest operating expense, behind rent and payroll. Choosing the right printer solutions is critical for optimizing efficiency, productivity, and cost-savings--benefits that flow directly to the bottom line.
Connectivity & Collaboration
Unified communications (UC) and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) deliver connectivity that relegates standard telephony to the horse-and-buggy age. UC integrates all of an organization's communications services--from instant messaging and voice calls to videoconferencing and interactive whiteboards--and delivers them in a consistent manner to users across all devices. VoIP uses the internet, rather than the telephone company's wires, as a transmission network for telephone calls and is significantly cheaper than traditional phone service.
Collaboration has become a critical determinant of business success, more than twice as important as a company's strategic orientation, according to a recent Frost & Sullivan report. There is an abundance of good collaboration tools available to businesses of all sizes, and connectivity is a critical enabler for most of them. Connectivity infrastructure should include sufficient Internet bandwidth, stable and fast WiFi, and strong security.
Mobile, cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) are interconnected when it comes to delivering increased efficiency and profitability. "It doesn't matter what type of business you are, every company has a need for speed and agility within its operating model," says Tom Keiser, COO of Zendesk, a customer service platform. "It's critical to be able to try things quickly, to shift direction to better compete, and to quickly add capabilities and intelligence."
SaaS uses cloud computing to deliver a wide range of business capabilities--HR, finance, customer service, and many more. Unlike IT-based solutions, SaaS applications are constantly, and often automatically, updated and improved, and it's easy to add or change capabilities as your needs evolve. Mobility is an important enabler for SaaS tools because they are so frequently accessed via mobile devices. A recent survey by SOTI, a provider of enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions, found that 49 percent of respondents believe it would be impossible to complete their work without mobile devices. Companies need to see mobility as business-critical and understand that it can have a transformational impact on what they do.
We know, try to stifle your yawn, but the "data-maniacs" who live and breathe this stuff argue this should actually top the list. "The collection and analysis of millions of pieces of data from countless sensors is revolutionizing the efficiency and profitability of many businesses," insists David Friend, co-founder and CEO of Wasabi, which provides data storage solutions. He offers the example of a vending machine company that began tracking transactions and inventory remotely and using predictive analytics to optimize product mix and stock levels. The result was a 10 percent sales bump and the elimination of 70 percent of its truck fleet.
David Murray, chief business development officer at Corvil, a network data analytics company, says that true understanding of your business comes from correlating information across four critical dimensions: user and customer response and experience, business productivity and efficiency, cyber surveillance and security, and commercial transactions and performance. Data analytics empowers companies to connect the dots and gain valuable insights into how the business is being run and what can be done better.
This category is forward-looking, but the future is probably closer than you think, says Michael Gretczko, principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP and general manager of ConnectMe, Deloitte's digital HR solution. Robotics process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence, and virtual reality are experiencing rapid adoption and use. They are transforming how people work and unlocking the potential of the human capital assets on companies' balance sheets, he says.
Technology options to make businesses more efficient and profitable range wildly, from the most mundane to the esoteric and futuristic. The key to choosing the right ones for your business is matching their capabilities the outcomes you want to achieve, with the capabilities and efficiencies these technologies offer.
This content was produced on behalf of Epson by Inc. Studio.