In a business world where “time is money,” increasing efficiencies can have a direct impact on your bottom line. If used correctly, technology is a great tool to help you become more efficient. How do you do that? Let’s take a look.
The first step in leveraging technology to boost your workflow efficiencies is to consider the alignment— or the lack of alignment—between technology and your business needs. Just like the tires on your car, as your business goes through wear-and-tear, and as you hit a pothole here and there, you will likely need an alignment from time to time.
When this happens, avoid the temptation to deploy the latest and greatest solutions just because they create a lot of buzz. Instead, take a look at the key aspects of your business:
- Business model
- Workflow procedures
- Policies on handling and securing data
- Enterprise applications
- Infrastructure components—email, phones, network, servers
- End-user needs for devices and applications
Define the current state of each area and how well each area functions. Then determine what new capabilities are needed. This will help direct you towards the type of technology solution you require. From there, you can focus on the top two or three solutions that meet your business needs best.
Changing Environments Drive Technology Changes
It’s also important to realize the process outlined above is not static. You need to go through this exercise at least once per year and when a major change occurs to your business environment.
In 2020 for example, social distancing became a mandatory objective for every business. This meant finding technologies that enable employees to engage with each other and with customers using online collaboration tools. The services delivered to customers either needed to be delivered remotely or follow special protocols when meeting customers face-to-face. Technology can help in both situations—whether it’s using screen sharing or providing incident reports via email rather than physically handing them to customers.
7 Signs Your Business Is Out of Alignment
- No security audits in the past six months
- Unsecure texting or cell phones
- Non-Cloud, on-premises technologies
- Widely-deployed individual end-user devices (laptops and desktops)
- Infrastructure (email, network, phones) not keeping pace with business changes
- New technology requirements (remote workers)
- Rapid growth or other fundamental business changes
With many people working from home, businesses have also been forced to track employee time differently. And additional security measures became necessary to make sure texting and chatting could not be compromised by cybercriminals. To address these needs, many businesses were forced to deploy new technology tools.
New Technologies Impact Business Processes
You always want your business requirements to drive your technology initiatives. But the emergence of a new technology can also prompt you to change your business practices. A classic example is the use of personal cell phones and laptops utilized for client communications, such as phone calls, email and video conferences.
To make things easier for employees, businesses started implementing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environments. This also reduced the cost of the business having to buy the devices. But at the same time, businesses needed to manage these BYOD environments to keep corporate data safe and to maintain the confidentiality of personal data.
Businesses also wanted to ensure personal devices were running the latest OS with up-to-date application and security patches. And from the customer impact standpoint, businesses needed to make sure BYOD devices did not hamper the delivery of products and services.
And that’s when businesses started turning to mobile device management (MDM) platforms. MDM made it possible to manage and secure corporate data on personal devices without infringing on the privacy of individuals. Yes, the technology was new, but the business needs were the drivers behind leveraging that new technology.
Technology Realignment Drivers
- Complex changes in the business environment (stay-at-home mandates)
- Changes in your business model (staffing, billing)
- Changes in service delivery model (remote vs. onsite)
- Changes in protocols (remote collaboration)
- Business growth (size and/or geographical)
- Regulatory changes (regulations, compliance audits)
- Increased security risks (#1 driver of IT change)
- Changes in technology (applications, mobility, cloud)
3 Examples of Businesses Gaining Alignment
Client Case Study 1
A healthcare services business with 120 employees working in two locations suffered a security breach, and during the resulting audit, discovered they were not in compliance with HIPAA in relation to their process for data access. As a result of a HIPAA audit, they had to announce the breach publicly, which damaged their reputation.
The on-premises environment did not have a strong security posture, and employees were not able to access data from anywhere. To solve this challenge, the client deployed Microsoft Office 365 in an Amazon Web Service (AWS) Cloud, which included a relational database to securely store healthcare files.
With centralized data storage and data access controlled within the Cloud, the firm now has a strong common security framework. Two-factor authentication was also implemented to ensure that only authorized users can gain access to the data.
Client Case Study 2
Another small company with 65 employees in three locations found its on-premise environment could no longer scale to handle compute needs, and data was isolated in disjointed systems. The company also needed to improve its communications abilities.
The company migrated to a Microsoft Azure Cloud platform that includes Practice Perfect, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Teams, and Microsoft SharePoint. They also deployed PulseOne Communications VoIP. The result is a scalable, secure, accessible, and reliable IT/communications environment.
Client Case Study 3
A mid-sized company with more than 1,000 employees working at nine locations outgrew its infrastructure hosted in a co-location data center. The infrastructure could not scale to meet application workload demands and the phone system and network kept failing.
By migrating to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud, the company capitalized on a load-balanced, scalable architecture with centralized storage. The environment includes Microsoft Office 365, a relational database with thin-client remote access, and a hosted VoIP phone system.
With these new technologies, the company scales computer and communications resources up-and-down easily and provides access to employees from anywhere—the office, at home, and on the road. In addition to making data more secure, the company also benefits from a reliable communications and IT network platform.
If you suspect there’s a misalignment between one of your business processes and technology, first define the specific changes you require for your business. What processes need to work more efficiently? Is there a product or service line that needs to generate more revenue and/or operate more profitably?
Then discuss your current situation and desired outcomes with your internal IT team and your IT partner. If you don’t have a Managed Services IT partner, PulseOne will be glad to discuss how we can help. We consult clients on how to engage in the appropriate audits and assessments—which may include regulatory, security, IT infrastructure, applications, or a combination.
We can also evaluate recommendations and next steps to fix misalignments. This may involve implementing a new process or technology, but you may discover your current systems just need a little tweak. By engaging with a partner like PulseOne over the long term, you can ensure your business stays aligned with technology and maintains the flexibility to change when business conditions warrant.