The Hidden Treasures Of Your ICT Infrastructure
What We Want In Business
We all know how hard it is to run a business, not to mention a PROFITABLE one. Dealing with daily challenges from building effective teams within the business to ensuring products and services delivery to customers it’s not easy.
Add to this the avalanche of novelty we are bombarded with every minute of the day and it’s no wonder we all end up stressed, overworked and – sometimes – wondering why we do what we do (i.e. running a business)?
But, regardless of all this, we still face the same challenge, every day:
Build an efficient business engine that runs smoothly and makes profit year after year.
We continually try to achieve running an operation that is light on the costs and big on the profit side. Which, ultimately, is the Holy Grail of every entrepreneur out there. To make big things with less resources has been the major driver in every innovation, invention and revolution since the beginning of the industrial era – if not from the beginning of human intelligence, mind you…
AUTOMATION – THE BIG THING
Everyone knows, at the core of almost any efficient process stands AUTOMATION. Regardless if it is in the form of using a TEMPLATE, PATTERN or STENCIL – or the more evolved means of a computer algorithm that returns a calculated number based on the input it receives from a sensor, AUTOMATION sits at the core of profitable business.
If we look around us, we see automation in the most obvious or the most inconspicuous aspects of our daily lives:
- the daily alarm coming out of the table clock or the smartphone we proudly own
- the thermostat turning the heater on or off based on temperature
- the green light we get if we push the button at the traffic lights
- a text alert we receive as a result of someone leaving a message on our mobile number
- organising a workflow of documents to avoid missing out on important things
The list can go on and on, almost without end.
Why is it then, that most of us in business struggle to see the benefits of making an effort in implementing COMPUTER BASED AUTOMATION in as much as possible of our daily operational workflow? I see – almost every day – examples of manual processing that could be easily done automatic, in a more precise manner, with less effort and better results… by the computer.
What I am talking about is the failure to see beyond just using computers as data entry terminals and simple text processing tools (or spreadsheet calculators). There are hidden powers in every computer system that can be used to increase employees productivity tenfold – if used correctly. Or, even better, one can leverage customer’s willingness to self-serve to reduce the internal processing.
Put my money where my mouth is…
Just to give some examples, without complicating things:
- Everyone has a Contact us page or form on their website. Having the form just notify us of a new enquiry is by far less productive than having the form add the visitor’s information directly into the CRM system and marking it as new lead. Avoiding thus someone spending another two to three minutes at least to add the information manually. (5 MINUTE GAIN)
- Most email system allow us to configure an auto-reply email when someone sends an email to our “firstname.lastname@example.org” address. This may spare a couple of minutes spent by our team in writing a nice reply to let the customer know we are aware of their problem. (5 MINUTE GAIN)
- Instead of always searching through the tens of folders in the company storage, one can easily add the most used ones to a short-list available in Windows Explorer. (5 MINUTE GAIN)
All of the examples above don’t really count as “smart Computer based automation” – but I am trying to make a point here: each of them can reduce the time wasted unproductively by one of our employees (or bye ourselves directly) by a few minutes every day. Let’s say we could reduce the time spent on some tasks by 15 minutes every day, using the three items above. I think it is easily possible.
Let’s also say we have 20 employees who start using computers for minor automation every day and reduce the time being wasted on menial tasks by 15 minutes for each of them. 15 x 20 means 300 minutes NOT lost (everyday). Multiply this by 5 days a week and you’re looking at 1,500 minutes… Ultimately, the calculation shows we could reduce the time spent on unproductive tasks by more than 1,000 hours every year just by doing the three little things above…
At minimum wage rates, that would give you about $15,000 more profit. End of the argument.
The big question is – why is this still happening today, in the age of super-fast computers in your pocket and cloud computing? Is it too expensive to go that path? I don’t believe – the described actions are not something one could pay a fortune for… Is it lack of understanding of how computers work? Not that either – I didn’t describe something super-sophisticated or difficult to grasp…
The answer may we in the broken relationship the business may have with its technology or – even worse – with its technology providers. Most business owners I come across are telling me almost the same thing:
I don’t want to know about IT – I just want IT to work!
I can relate to that – technology can sometimes be overwhelmingly complicated and not everyone has a desire to learn how computers, networks and servers work…
However, there is a hidden danger in refusing to sit down with the technology providers and take control on the direction your business infrastructure goes. I would say – on the contrary – the business (owners, executives, line managers) should sit down and discuss the business needs and pains, strategies and tactical plans – and figure out what are the best avenues to improve, make more efficient and more resilient the business as a whole.
Bottom line is – a business needs a technology partner, not just a bunch of service providers. Imagine how much more benefit the business may have if we could demonstrate a $15,000 increase in the bottom line just by changing three little things in its IT usage… A website form, an automated email and a bit of training to the users.
Hidden gems in your IT – only if you know where to look. We know.