It used to be that sophisticated technology in the workplace was a fax machine, photocopier and a couple of computers that only two people in the office knew how to use.
Today, the evolution of the technology means the office of yesterday is barely recognisable, while the tasks may remain the same, the working landscape has radically altered and continues to do so at pace due to greater digitalisation.
Businesses, regardless of size, can no longer afford to ignore digitalisation. The pace of change, driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, means going with it or risk being left behind by your competitors.
Consequently, businesses need to devise and implement a digitalisation strategy to explore the range of options that will synchronise your business, increase efficiency and eradicate out-dated means of operating.
So, what should businesses be considering? A glance at the Industry 4.0 landscape shows that the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality, virtual reality, cloud-based applications and data analytics are having a significant impact within an office environment. Industrial applications are also witnessing increased automation, robotics and 3D printing.
Choosing what’s right for your business is a matter that requires serious consideration. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for embarking on the digital transformation of your business. This is where having a strategy will play its part. It is about taking a measured approach and working out which of the technologies and applications you can integrate into the workplace and what impact will they deliver.
Digitalisation is about streamlining the processes, reducing time-consuming tasks and enriching and enhancing the customer experience.
Automating routine tasks, going paperless and enhancing communication, through digital transformation tools, are relatively easy to deploy and without significant outlay. It is a comfortable step into Industry 4.0 technologies and digitalisation.
One of the main trends of the year has been the rise of the chatbot. It may seem simplistic, but the power of AI combined with existing messaging services such as Messenger, WhatsApp, Kik and Telegram are making this a powerful tool for business.
Chat is where society is moving and a business chatbot, with AI, has the power to become more than a simple Q&A service, it can also collect feedback, arrange polls and drive interaction into your business by becoming a selling/marketing tool.
For larger organisations, what about an internal company chatbot, alleviating the pressures on HR or accounts departments that get asked routine questions.
Then there is the notion of ‘going paperless’. This has been a phrase for the past two decades and yet how many businesses are still using various paper documents. In business today, there is no need to have swathes of paper with powerful software options and the ability to access information via ‘the cloud’. The cloud now holds the key to delivering greater efficiency with a proliferation of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions for businesses.
With a bit of research and understanding of your business needs and operations, it does not take much to streamline your operations. Take recruitment, for example, AI is now being to oversee the early stages of applications, creating applicant shortlists and even to organise interview schedules. Tellingly, it also being used more and more for video interviews as well to aid the process. Recruitment companies and businesses are already using this technology to deliver ready-made talent to clients, which is a major issue across all sectors.
Then there are CRM tools for the sales team to benefit from. For businesses with a large customer base, the days of a static customer relationship management tool on a hard drive are over. More businesses are shifting this to the cloud, especially small businesses who have less budget and are more likely to outsources services. Having a cloud-based CRM delivers round-the-clock access. They bring a new level of automation, that can assist with ROI and growing the business.
Finally, what about the accounts team? There are financial solutions that also exist that utilise the power of AI to bring efficiencies. These include AI-powered invoice management systems; expense management systems including the uploading of receipts from smartphones; it can process audit and take charge of procurement – including price checking.
Delivering digitalisation will differ from business to business, but the first steps do not have to be dramatic, incur a great cost or be disruptive to the day-to-day operations of your business
Determine your path without delay as digitalisation is here to stay.