How digital technology can help you solve major business challenges in 2021
In 2020, the market experienced many unprecedented challenges that company owners needed to resolve. Although there are several strategies and guidelines put in place to recover from the after-effects, digital technology has been at the forefront, serving as an efficient tool for organizations to survive and rebuild.
We believe that this is the year to leverage digital technology in a more proactive manner. In this regard, we have identified some areas of interest that your business should pay attention to in 2021. With this, we can effectively tackle the biggest obstacles many businesses will continue experiencing this year and take advantage of the new landscape.
Over the years, technology has played a vital role in defining how we work, and more importantly, the type of results we achieve. We have felt its direct impact more than ever during the coronavirus pandemic. While recovering from the adverse effects of this disruption, it is digital technology that has given us a lifeline.
In 2020, we explored the possibilities digital technology offered our business processes. 2021 provides an interesting prospect towards actualizing these opportunities and turning our challenges into profitable initiatives.
The ever-increasing demand for a seamless digital experience opens new possibilities to reach and engage with customers. There are also undeniable benefits that arise from an open and interconnected workspace, and many companies moved to embrace this paradigm shift, not only out of necessity.
Attached to these new possibilities and benefits are also several concerns, especially for small business owners and startups who may lack the time or knowledge to prepare viable digital strategies.
Growing Customer Demand for Digital Experience
Customers expect services and communication that are in constant relation to what they’re doing at any given moment, to where they are, and to what device they are using. To keep up with this technology culture, your business needs a strategy focused on the user’s journey. According to researchers at Harvard Business School, enterprises that adopt this cultural shift have an average gross margin of 55% in three years, compared to 37% for digital laggards.
To improve your organization’s shot at success this year, you should follow a strategic roadmap that itemizes the policies of an efficient digital transformation process. These policies can include:
- A current client situation audit with an in-depth risk and market analysis
- An agile-driven business and production environment
- Migration of vital business data to cloud platforms
Demand for Instant Request Processing
Modern consumers have an understandably high expectation of the enterprises they do businesses with. Customers are in constant need of a relevant and concise response to their requests upon the first contact. HubSpot published a research showing that two out of every three customers expect a response within ten minutes to any sales, marketing, or customer service inquiry.
Your FAQ webpage is a great pool of answers for customers that need a response to basic questions. But the growing demand for prompt request processing can be met by your enterprises’ availability to give a response to queries in real-time.
Artificial Intelligence has made it possible even for microbusinesses to provide this level of immediate accessibility for their customers. By adopting chatbots and similar machine learning solutions, businesses of all sizes can make their organizations available to new and existing customers 24/7. This is especially helpful for businesses that are currently cutting down on “non-essential” personnel costs.
Integrating AI driven tools like Microsoft Dynamics 365 will help you sort, automate, and coordinate sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support. You can reap the benefits of fluent interaction between your business and its clients.
The pandemic has impacted the world in a way no one expected, and cyber-attackers continue taking advantage of it. As most of the world resorts to working from home, attackers are massively targeting employees to obtain remote credentials and perform malicious logins. Since working from home typically requires using personal gadgets that can be vulnerable to malware, thereby increasing the risk of exposure.
This problem gets bigger when we realize that members of an organization’s security team may also be under movement restrictions. Consequently, there is an imminent downgrade in performance, and a severely reduced capacity to respond adequately to active cyber threats.
In 2021, organizations must ensure their staff adheres to the regulatory guidelines. To prevent cyberattacks, all networks and device configurations should be modified in line with the latest security standards.
According to a recent study by IBM and Ponemon institute, the average cost of a cyberattack can get as high as $3.86 million. These breaches are usually long-term attacks, and they can cause tough financial implications that will last for years.
The data from this study has also proven that there is a positive correlation between a security breach and an organization’s level of security awareness. This means that the more security aware your company is, the more protected is your data, and on the long run, your financials.
Verizon’s 2020 data breach investigations report that close to half of all cybercrime attacks are targeted at small businesses that have little or no means to protect themselves. Small and medium enterprises should adopt most or all the following techniques to ensure a safer environment.
- By migrating important data and applications to cloud-based services, small and medium enterprises can effectively secure vital information. Cloud services will also help them create automatic backups in the event of a cyber-attack or ransomware.
- Organizations should ensure their staff activates their anti-virus, network firewall, and information encryption tools to neutralize viruses and protect their system against impending network or denial-of-service attacks.
- Businesses should develop a policy that restricts staff access to only the files that are needed to perform their day-to-day tasks.
- Organizations should provide regular on the job training for workers on the state-of-the-art techniques to prevent cyberattacks, and trends in cybercrime.
Demand for Remote Working
Prior to 2021, remote working was already a proven solution to issues like difficulties finding the right talent locally, high employee costs, and increased carbon footprints. But it wasn’t widely recognized nor adopted.
In the past months, organizations have turned to remote work because of the dire situation the ongoing pandemic brought. Many of those companies registered positive sides of having their staff working from home, a significant productivity increase being the main one. The employees could experience benefits like the flexibility and time saved on commuting.
The occurring paradigm shift is clear by now, and the demand for remote working is here to stay. It is as much a challenge as it is an opportunity and businesses have no choice but to adapt to it. The combination of the internal culture change with the adoption of the new generation of cloud-based team collaboration tools can help the businesses respond to the new situation accurately and capitalize on it.
When working remotely, seamless and efficient collaboration can prove to be difficult. Tools like Microsoft Office can solve this problem. With the right procedures in place, Microsoft Suite applications enable remote teams to simultaneously work on the same files, and the information safety is guaranteed. Integrated with the Microsoft editors are Outlook for mail management and Teams for team communications, including video and audio conference calls, amongst other functions.
If your company can successfully overcome the remote work challenge with an efficient use of technology, you are set to benefit from new possibilities that come with it. Primarily, your recruitment structure will not be limited by geographical location anymore as you can now source talent regardless of geographical location.
It is undeniable that in the ongoing digital transformation, a cultural change plays a role that is as important as the technology itself. The shift toward the digital mindset together with deep adaptation of the practices and processes, will allow businesses to tackle the challenges in the right way.
How was 2020 for your business? Did you have to implement a technological shift, or maybe the technology and processes were already in place, allowing for a swift adjustment? Tell us about your business goals for 2021 and the role technology is going to play in achieving them.