Digital technology has helped us solve some of the biggest challenges we face. From helping us understand what's going on in the world with the Large Hadron Collider, to making space travel more affordable with SpaceX's self-landing rocket.
Technology has been helping us solve problems where human power alone just isn’t enough. For every big problem digital technology helps solve with much fanfare, thousands of little ones are eliminated each day without much notice. In this article, we bring you five incredibly common business problems that are solved with a little help from digital technology.
1. Faster Task Completion
Arguably the best gift that technology has provided the business world s a drastic increase in productivity. Technology allows us to complete tasks that historically took days in mere moments. One of the most pervasive examples of digital technology increasing productivity is the development of spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel. An illustrative example of this was explained by Benedict Evans on his blog,
"In effect, every person on that floor is a cell in a spreadsheet. The floor is a worksheet and the building is an Excel file, with thousands of cells each containing a single person.”
The sales ledger from the first day the Filet-O-Fish sandwich was sold at Groen’s McDonald’s in Ohio. Image courtesy of Paul Groen
It’s not difficult to realise the impact spreadsheet software would have on businesses; from tracking expenses and sales, to payroll and productivity. It replaces the many tedious tasks of manually storing, compiling, and sorting of unorganised data with a simple systematic digital solution. Saving businesses time and money.
A more recent example of software increasing business productivity has been the proliferation of field service SaaS companies like mHelpDesk and Maintenance.io. Both of these companies believe and leverage digital technology through websites and mobile apps, creating significant time savings.
2. Content Discovery
We have the internet to thank for the explosion of content and content creation, both user-generated and otherwise. But the biggest benefit from a business perspective has actually come from the search side of things.
The founding of search engines like Google means employees today have more knowledge and resources than ever at their fingertips. Employees today are far better at finding what they need when they need it.
The relationship between customer and company is another area that continues to benefit from the application of digital technology. With the evolution of platforms such as Salesforce Desk, ZenDesk, and even social platforms, how companies listen and engage with their customers has changed. For customers who try to engage with companies across these new channels, a quick answer is critical to a positive customer experience and digital technology has allowed us to shorten that bridge between company and consumer by making content easy to publish and discover.
3. Lower Administration Costs
Companies' administration has often been a costly but essential business function, and unfortunately one that is difficult to efficiently scale. This is one area where technology has had an enormous impact.
Almost all paper processes can now be done digitally, from signing contracts, to filling expenses to managing invoices - lots of these time-consuming tasks can now be automated. Here at Enginess we worked with the governing body for dentists in Ontario to bring their continuing education online, building them a tool that allowed dentists to log their CE activity, upload proof of attendance and track progress towards meeting required goals. Other ways we have seen digital technology solutions used:
- Automate your financial processes. PayPal, for example, has plenty of automated functionality to make your admin life easier.
- Manage your workstack. Solutions like Trello and Atlassian make it easy to keep an eye on what you have in flight and what you have coming up.
- Streamline your accounting services. Xero, Zoho, FreshBooks, QuickBooks, Sage 50 – there are literally hundreds of software solutions to make it easier to pay your suppliers, your employees, and yourself.
The biggest savings though come from administration being done right, the first time. Automated technology solutions mean's that errors are less frequent, caught earlier, and easier to unravel and solve.
4. Remote Working is Easier
Of course, remote working only actually works when you have at least some technology in your corner. But in recent years, the dream of working from anywhere in the world has been more fully realised.
Specifically, the integration of smartphones and various app integrations that come along with it, the improved distribution of speedy WiFi (and declining cost of mobile data), and the general improvement of various devices to talk to each other, have all helped facilitate true remote workers. This doesn’t even mention the expanding implementation of cloud technology and the declining cost of storage.
The result of all of these changes is that it’s actually feasible now to work from nearly anywhere, anytime.
5. Improved Customer Targeting
Businesses have always had a love/hate relationship with advertising and marketing. Yes, they love new customers walking into a store, but they hate the idea that they might not be using their dollars as effectively as possible. It’s not like a sales pitch, where the person in the room is ready to buy because you’re in the room with them – you might spend all the money in the world talking to customers on a radio ad, but many won’t even be in the market for your product.
The ability to use data and software to both capture customer data, and then actually do something with it, is one of the most important tech innovations in business today. And it’s to solve this fundamental problem: how do you talk to the right people at the right time?
For example, the ability for digital display ads to target based on demographic, location, and contextual information, and then re-target based on past ad exposures, has been tremendously beneficial for companies using those channels to get their message where it’s needed. Likewise, email targeting based on past product searches and views has helped e-commerce websites drive conversions and sales at a much higher rate. It’s all about talking to the right person at the right time, not all the people all the time.
Final words on Digital Technology Solutions
Digital technology can do amazing things. It helps us explore the universe, develop solutions to complicated problems, and to change our world for the better. But it also helps us solve common, everyday problems, like getting things done so we are home by six and ensuring your employees are paid on time.
So next time you’ve got a problem (no matter how mundane), odds are there’s a digital technology solution.