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Is IT Holding Your Business Back?

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There are few modern companies that don’t rely on IT to keep their business running. In fact, North American businesses alone spend over $680-billion on tech each year – and IT is often a greater expenditure than staff – but, the question is; are we getting the most from our spend?

For most businesses, the answer is no. While IT provides much-needed infrastructure, it’s often something that we take for granted – rather than use in a way that eases the strain on other parts of the business – namely, staff. It’s easy to become set in your ways, using IT in the same way it’s been used for years – without asking if more might be possible.

In many instances, more is very much possible. Here, we’ll explore some largely unexplored areas in which IT can unlock incredible benefits for your company, freeing up time you and your staff to spend driving the business forward.

Hosted Telephones

Traditional telephones have become so ingrained in the way many companies do business that it’s difficult to think about them offering anything more than the opportunity to call clients, colleagues and customers – but in reality, we’re moving on from just these traditional functions.

Hosted telephony services are unlocking a huge amount of productivity for businesses – but to understand how, you’ve got to forget what you know about phones and consider them in a different light.

Until recently, phones have been communication devices – but, in much the same way we use Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, phones can now be considered voice-input devices – ones that customers can use to access our business resources.

By doing so, you cut out the time-consuming customer to the end-user interface that’s often required to perform a function. For instance, let’s say a customer wants to pay an invoice; rather than calling and speaking to a person, a chatbot style interface can answer the phone, work out what the customer is hoping to do, then direct them to another automated service – all the time backed up by the option to access a real person if something doesn’t go to plan.

Rather than a communication device, phones become a way of accessing services with voice. Want your end-user customer calls transcribed – no problem, it can be done in real-time. Want your most frequent help-desk questions automated, no problem – common issues can be talked through by a chatbot.

Rather than relying on your telephone system, hosted phones are part of your IT network – making a new system almost as simple as installing a new IT device. If you rely on telephones to deliver your service, exploring what a hosted voice service could offer you might be the key that unlocks an enormous amount of productivity for your staff, and convenience for your customers.

In-house Applications

Applications (or ‘software’, if you want to be slightly less-millennial) are the only way we can make devices work for us – without them, our phones, desktops, and servers are just potential, waiting to be powered up and unlocked.

Generally, we use third-party applications to unlock that potential. It’s often difficult to think how the world would go round without Microsoft Office or the database management products provided by companies like SAP or Oracle – but while these enormous organisations provide software that works for many, each business is unique – and often, we have processes or parts of our workflow that require something more specialist – more tailored to our specific needs.

The trouble is, finding the software is difficult – it’s sometimes impossible to search through the sheer quantity of off-the-shelf products, or find something amongst them that fulfils each of your requirements. Then again, if you’ve got a unique business idea, you might be blazing a software trail – but without the expertise needed to bring your idea to fruition. If you do have the skills in-house, it can be enormously difficult to pull them out of their normal business function to create something entirely new.

Fortunately, outsourcing software development is possible – and a good development team will take you through every step – from the development of the initial idea to creating user-training and rolling your product out across your business.

Interfacing with technology usually represents a companies biggest set of choke-points in any process. We’re a little way short of plugging our end-users directly into our devices – but, in the meantime, you can make sure you’ve got software in place that makes that interface as efficient as possible.

Outsourced IT

Supporting your IT infrastructure is absolutely vital to your company’s on-going ability to trade – but how you deliver that support can have a massive impact on your finances and resources. Increasingly, taking IT Support out of your team’s hands is proving advantageous – but what could it mean for you?

Well, importantly, there’s a cost. Generally, an in-house IT professional with the knowledge needed to keep your IT network alive and functioning smoothly will require a competitive salary – and that’s before any gaps they might leave in support when they’re unwell, taking a vacation, training – or, worst case, moving on to a different company.

For most companies, IT simply cannot sleep. If you need your systems to deliver your service or product, having them down has the potential to cost your company thousands. The only way to make sure you don’t lose your IT functions is to make sure they’re supported round the clock. This is where a well-managed service provider comes into their own.

When you outsource your IT, not only are you likely to be paying a tiny fraction of the cost associated with an in-house individual or team, you’re also going to be unlocking hands-on monitoring of your systems (if needed) 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.

What’s more, you’re going to be doing that with a team whose business it is to stay ahead of IT news, unlocking best practice for your business that would cost untold amounts of money to keep in-house. While supporting IT might not directly give you the edge in your core business model, it’s certain to make sure you’ve got the resources you need (both from a tech and capital point of view) to ensure you can focus on driving your organisation forward.

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