Most organizations have a fairly impressive range of ICT devices and equipment, but are they truly being used to improve performance and customer satisfaction? We identify four ways in which technology can be better used to improve your business.
Across all sizes of organisations there is generally clear evidence of ICT (Information and Communication Technology), be it through, for example, the telephone, mobile/cellular phone, network switch/router, PC, laptop or tablet computer. Invariably, these and many other devices are considered integral to a firm, as they assist employees to, among other things:
- communicate with customers, partners and each other
- prepare and transmit documents and files, and
- browse online and conduct a wide range of electronic transactions.
However, although such technology is considered integral to an organisation, frequently they are not harnessed to their fullest potential to improve its performance. Below four ways in which technology could be better applied are discussed.
- To improve service delivery to customers
Generally, today’s modern businesses pride themselves on being customer focussed and consumer oriented, and many have invested in ensuring that their frontline staff are versed in customer service. However, frequently, little emphasis is given to improving service delivery and efficiency.
From private sector to government, much can be done to improve the customer’s experience, and technology can be a major contributor to that transformation. Depending on the organisation and the services being provided, it is likely that a detailed list of improvements can be identified, but some likely to be on the list include: providing certain services online and introducing e-commerce facilities, which would, at the very least, offer customers a more convenient and efficient experience.
- To improve your organisation’s responsiveness to new developments
Although this point might seem most relevant to complex, goods-oriented businesses that operate in highly dynamic industries, this point is as applicable to small service-oriented organisations. With regard to organisational responsiveness, ICT/technology can be a major aid in:
- processing data generated from a diverse range of channels (e.g. sales, web analytics, inventory control, customer feedback, industry data, etc.), which, if handled correctly, can flag developing issues and be the impetus for important strategic decisions; and
- facilitating the implementation of the decisions that have been made, through innovative and (hopefully) cost-effective options, some of which it might be possible to build in-house.
- To change the basis of competition in your industry
Frequently in industry, a degree of complacency can occur when individual businesses no longer strive to distinguish themselves from their competitors. A certain equilibrium has been obtained and the businesses might be doing “okay”. However, for organisations that aim to grow market share; improve visibility; or wish to become the preferred vendor or service provider, ICT/technology can help them achieve those goals. Again, ICT/technology can be instrumental in:
- streamlining, optimising and automating certain internal processes , which can reduce delays, human error, red tape, and the complexity of certain processes
- introducing operational efficiencies that can reduce costs and improve the bottom line
- implementing new measures that can ultimately add value to the customer and improve his or her experience with the organisation.
- To improve your organisation’s overall performance
Finally, and as a culmination of all earlier points, ICT can introduce a paradigm shift in organisations by helping them to re-evaluate, among other things, what might be possible, how they can raise the bar and perform better, and what new services and quality standards should be introduced. This point may be particularly applicable to micro, small and medium sized businesses, many of which have limited resources, and might be looking for ways to take their operations to the next level.
One way of beginning the process of getting more out of the technology your organisation currently possesses, is not to focus on the devices themselves. Instead, the priority in the first instance should be to set the goals or desired outputs that you wish to realise, and to examine and understand current processes or project cycles in order to be in a position to determine how best they can be optimised with technology to achieve the desire outcomes.
In closing, ICT has long been touted as being able to introduce efficiencies into businesses, but too often the organisations themselves do not actively introducing such measures. Depending on the expertise resident in the firm, some external assistance may be necessary to get the most of the current equipment. However, as the corporate world becomes even more fixated on profits and savings, and competition increases across various sectors, a more considered investment to harness readily available ICT might be worth the inconvenience in the long term.