Computers and software go hand-in-hand when it comes to our businesses. While most companies have started to set up huge complex systems to manage everything from finances to staff meetings, smaller companies have fallen behind due to the increasing costs of setting up a professional IT system to manage your business.
However, IT does above and beyond what a regular user sees in the workplace. When people think IT, they think of computers, keyboards, mice, software and maybe networking. While it’s true that IT does encompass these things, it’s barely breaking the surface when you consider how deep IT systems are rooted in the business industry.
IT Is Not a System, It’s an Infrastructure
People consider IT to be a system. In other words, they assume it’s a collection of organized things that make up something larger. For example, they might think “product system” and think of a customer ordering an item online and the process it goes through until it reaches the customer’s front door. Again, this is true—it is a system, but IT technology goes beyond that surface thinking.
Let’s use the production process as an example. Imagine you have a large factory ready to build up your latest product. In this example case, let’s say it’s a soda. First, your business needs to source raw materials for the drink itself, but also the can that it is housed in. You’ll have to order the flavorings and ingredients, but also the aluminum that is used to create the can.
With an IT infrastructure, it’s possible to manage and change the entire manufacturing process from a single control point. It could be a single computer, it could be a collection of computers, or it might even just from a single tablet screen on the wall. Either way, an IT infrastructure will help you manage raw material stocks, view exact numbers of production every day, check how many materials are being wasted and where you can save money.In short, it’s an intelligent system that can be customized to your exact preferences. It’s an invaluable tool in every business and without it, you’ll never be able to reach a worldwide audience. If you’d like to learn more about the intricate processes of manufacturing and how it combines with IT, you can get info from ATB Tech.
IT Is an Enabler
E-commerce systems have enabled millions of people around the world to purchase and sell products that previously were not available. Though many people refuse to see it this way, we are in a global market regardless of what politicians and industry experts think. If you want to purchase a special handmade jacket from Italy, then online commerce enables you to do that. If you produce digital art and take commissions for work, then you can use the power of the internet and eCommerce services to sell your work to anyone in the world. The entire globe is your customer base and you have the power to reach all of them.
For small businesses, this means that you’re able to reach a global audience—something that was previously impossible or very time-consuming. In the past few decades, the internet has made it far more accessible for small and large businesses to reach the same audience. Small companies can now deliver their products much faster and more efficiently through the use of middlemen like Massdrop, which are invaluable services that allow you to gauge interest before producing your goods in large quantities. Suffice it to say, IT has made the impossible a reality, and owning a small business has never been so easy or accessible.
For large businesses, IT enables your company to move swiftly and quickly. Services such as cloud storage and computing mean that your business doesn’t need to rely on internal networks for storage and software. For a long time, offices had to dedicate entire rooms or perhaps even floors to storage units and network devices. It was power hungry, they could break and they needed dedicated maintenance teams to manage them. Now that cloud computing has exploded in popularity, a lot of space has been freed up in the office to make room for productive spaces for employees.
IT Innovations Contribute to Success
IT isn’t a static infrastructure. IT can contribute to almost anything in your business. You can shape and mold it like putty and use it to repair, extend or grow your business. The limitations of IT aren’t bound by cost or time—only your imagination. While creating your own IT infrastructure is difficult because of all the components involved, you can hire specialized IT professionals such as programmers, network administrators or even computer scientists to create something that meets your expectations.
Innovation allows for a business to target specific audiences or meet criteria that have never been matched before. Take for example customer service. Most businesses relied on drawn out emails, outsourced phone support or even snail mail to help their customers. A small issue that could be resolved by an IT professional in five minutes took days or even weeks due to bottlenecks in communications that ground the business to a halt. Not only did it slow your own business down, but it also slows the entire economy down.
Nowadays, customer service can be handled entirely online. Messages can be exchanged between IT professionals and customers through online chat services, video conferencing, or quick-response emails that are handled efficiently by sophisticated computer systems. A message that contains the words “help with my computer” is analyzed by the system and it determines what support department to hand the query to. Once it has decided on the type of query, the system will look for a support agent who is free and assign the task to them. It’s quick, there are fewer queues, and customers can get support directly from professionals instead of outsourced representatives that do not work directly with the company.
Innovations in customer support have driven sales, positive customer feedback and also increased client retention. Customers are more likely to use a service or buy products from a business if they know they will receive high-quality service and aftermarket support. Buying something like a computer is a huge risk for regular consumers because they might not know how to fix all the individual parts or diagnose issues. Thanks to easy access communications, it no longer has to be a risk and problems can be solved with a simple Skype call or online message. It’s an example of how innovations can contribute to a business’s success, and those innovations stem from a clever use of IT systems and infrastructure.
IT Innovations Extend Marketing Opportunities
Innovations in various online systems and IT technology have made it possible to target audiences with pinpoint accuracy when it comes to marketing.
Services like Twitter and Facebook are social media platforms that are used by millions of people around the globe. The level of engagement and interaction can reach outrageous levels due to the incredibly vast size and types of networks that people engage in. An advertisement on Facebook about a new soft drink can reach a global audience thanks to keyword relevance. “Drink” as a keyword could be spread to food circles and blogs, it can then be shared among users in that group and reach their friends and family, and the product will be propagated throughout the entire Facebook network.
This level of engagement could never be achieved in traditional marketing. If a magazine or newspaper posted and advertisement about a job, then chances are your responses would take up to a week to be processed and cost a considerable amount of money compared to the Twitter messages of today. Similarly, a discussion board on a newspaper or dedicated magazine would be difficult to interact with when responses and messages take several days to be processed. There’s very little interaction with traditional media, and it’s obvious that the accessibility and open nature of digital marketing will eventually supersede it in the future.
However, a combination of traditional and digital marketing can extend a business’s reach far more than just utilizing a single platform. While digital marketing will eventually overtake traditional in terms of cost and accessibility, we’re currently in an age of transformation where societies are torn between the old generation that doesn’t understand technology and the new generation that embraces it.
As a result, clever marketing campaigns can utilize a combination of traditional and digital marketing to reach both the old generation and the new generation. For example, quick-response codes are regularly used in traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, and flyers. By using a mobile phone camera and an app, it’s possible to scan the quick-response code and open up a relevant web page. It encourages senior users to explore digital media, and it plays on the exposure that traditional advertising mediums still receive because of the transition that the industry is going through.
Not only do business innovate methods and utilize all their resources, but new technology is being created to offer even more advertising avenues. For example, augmented reality technologies will pave the way for smart-glass style devices. Whether it’s a pair of glasses fitted with technology, a car windscreen or even a bionic eye implant, it’s possible to display digital media in the real world with the help of augmented reality. In the future, you may just see targeted advertisements pop up on your car windscreen when you pass by a digitally supported billboard.
Question: What do you think about the IT in your business? How you utilize it for achieving your strategic goals? You can leave a comment by clicking here.