Technology has made great leaps in the past few years. Think about the difference in your personal devices from 2015 to now — in 2015 your smartphone didn’t have facial recognition, and you didn’t have to be careful saying the word “Alexa” in a friend’s home, lest you wake up an Amazon Echo.
These advances have extended to the technology we use on the job as well. Artificial intelligence is smarter, devices have more added features for convenience and almost every piece of equipment is capable of generating data. Technology has changed, but is your business keeping up with the times? Are you analyzing the data generated by your Internet of Things (IoT) devices, for example? And are you securing them against attacks?
With rapidly improving technology, every organization should be investing in three areas this year:
- data analytics
- increasing automation
In this post, Omni’s Vice President of Operations, Eric Evans and Client Solutions Manager Aaron Koats will explain why these areas are critical — especially now.
Making good business decisions with data analytics
All companies collect data in the course of their work, and all businesses can benefit from that data. Good data analytics can tell a business several things — it can help you limit unnecessary inventory, manage labor and help you understand what time of the year is best to run a promotion. Don’t think you need to be analyzing data?
“If a company isn’t looking at data, they’re missing the boat,” says Koats. “As long as they’re collecting the right information and analyzing the data they need, rather than trying to analyze everything. A lot of companies are grabbing so much information, they’re getting noise.”
If you’re getting static from your analytics, you need to start by focusing on the right data. How can you decide what to look at? Although there’s no one-size-fits all strategy to getting started with data analytics, a good first step may be to focus on the specific information that’s most important to your organization. If you’re a healthcare organization, you may focus on patient outcomes, for example. A manufacturer might choose to focus on inventory.
A business could also choose to go the financial route, checking its accounts to find out which departments spend the most money, and analyzing those departments’ data to find efficiencies.
“Look at what costs you the most money every year,” said Evans. “Ask yourself, ‘How do I stop spending money on this?”
Making work simpler with automation
While data analytics helps you see patterns in your business, Business Process Automation (BPA) is a way to simplify the way your employees actually do business.
Automation gets a bad rap in the workforce; workers are often concerned that they will be automated out of a job. Business process automation (BPA), however, can actually help with labor challenges, especially now, when unemployment is low. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is currently four percent. Low unemployment is good news for workers, but not great for organizations, who may have a hard time finding the right workers.
When you can’t find a bigger workforce, automation can help you make your existing workforce more efficient by automating tedious manual processes — walking around to get approvals on a form, for example — that could be better done by a machine. That automation frees up humans to concentrate on higher-level tasks.
“You’re using automation to do more with the workforce you have,” said Evans. “It’s less automation and more augmentation.”
How can you get started with automation? Start small, but with a process that will have a big financial impact.
“If one department is costing your organization a lot of money, look at their processes and consider automating one,” said Koats.
You might also choose a process that’s causing your employees frustration, like a process that requires the same information to be entered into three separate systems. If you can eliminate that additional work, your employees will thank you.
“Culture itself is a big return on investment when it comes to BPA,” said Koats.
Photo by Burst on Pexels
Meeting evolving technology with evolving security
Before you start analyzing data or making your workflows more efficient, however, you should turn your attention to something more important: digital security. When is the last time you checked your security? If it was more than a year ago, it’s time to review your security again. In even the past few years, technology has changed a lot, and your security needs to keep up.
“Whatever security you had in 2015 won’t be good enough in 2019. Think about the ways technology has invaded your life,” said Evans.
Devices that didn’t need to be secured four years ago, now do. And companies who hold people’s personal data really have to be aware of what they have to do to keep that information safe. Online order forms need to be secure, as do any devices that take customer’s financial data.
If that sounds intimidating, you can start small: by implementing a secure sign-in, making sure your software and servers are routinely patched and up to date, backing up your information and by providing training.
“Start by training your own people,” said Koats. “Make your own people like human firewalls, training them to recognize phishing attacks.”
You may also want to call in an expert to test your systems and make sure they cannot be easily hacked.
Making the most of your technology
Businesses now have more access to technology than they’ve ever had. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in — you’re managing some kind of technology. Credit card readers, online order forms and websites give organizations customer information. Sensors embedded in everything from manufacturing equipment to pallets to vehicles offer up information about products and inventory. Wearable devices and smart medical equipment generate information about patients.
Need help managing your technology? Omni is a boutique technology consulting company in Wisconsin, specializing in emerging technologies. Omni’s technology consultants can help you and your team understand, prepare for and implement the latest technology.
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