For small businesses in today’s modern landscape, technology is proving to be a significant driver of change, the most important of which is the ability to increase productivity. The reason that’s exciting—enhancing productivity through the integration of technology can lead to a significant business advantage for the savvy SMB, which is going to be the subject of the next Microsoft Office Small Business Academy webcast. Let’s explore.
Increased productivity can mean many things to a business’s bottom line, not the least of which is the ability to streamline operations, reduce costs, create better cohesiveness and enhanced collaboration among teams, as well as create a culture of more engaged employees. And all of these things? They lead to improved employee retention, better customer experiences, happier, more satisfied customers. These things ultimately lead to more business from existing customers, more referrals from happy customers, and a much-improved bottom line.
Let’s talk about each of these things and the roles they play in better business productivity and developing a competitive advantage.
Streamlined Operations. The adoption of cloud technology by businesses means that many times tasks that used to be arduous and take a great amount of time can be done quickly, efficiently, and even remotely. Take invoicing, for example, and the bookkeeping function in general. With cloud-based accounting systems, these tasks can be done from anywhere, at any time, even by a busy business owner on the go.
Cost Reductions. Technology allows businesses to reduce their reliance on expensive hardware and embrace the myriad “as a Service” offerings available to them. Whether powered by Software as a Service offerings (SaaS), like a CRM, accounting platform, or HR and employee benefits solutions, or turning to managed services providers as vendor partners providing outsourced IT services and support, SMBs no longer have to buy it all and have it all on site. Technology allows them the ability to do more with less, as well as affords the ability to rapidly scale up or down as needed depending on seasonal business needs. For many businesses, the ability to manage and control costs in this manner presents a significant competitive advantage.
Enhanced Cohesiveness and Collaboration. Whether your business is large or small, or on site or remote, we all live in and out of email all day—but the tide is changing in that regard. Integrated solutions like Microsoft’s Teams and Skype allow employees to quickly and easily collaborate from any location, across any time zone, either by voice, video, or chat. They can share documents, devise strategies, make plans, and worth together as a connected, empowered team. More face-to-face collaboration opportunities, made possible by video and collaboration solutions generally means more tightly interconnected teams, enhanced sharing of ideas, and improved outcomes as it relates to productivity of the team overall.
More Engaged Employees. Employee engagement affects many things, not the least of which are employee retention, customer satisfaction, and productivity. Engaged employees enjoy their jobs, understand how their work is aligned with company goals, and often have a voice in accomplishing those goals. Research conducted by Harvard Business Review looked at the importance of employee engagement as companies shifted from business survival to business growth following the recession of the early 2010s and found that people-oriented, or “soft” factors were critical to business success. In fact, the top three things identified as crucial for success included achieving a high level of customer satisfaction, a commitment to effective communications, and a focus on creating a culture of engaged employees and strong leaders.
Better Customer Experiences. Happy, engaged, productive employees inevitably provide better customer service and endeavor to create better overall experiences, at every touchpoint, for customers and prospects. Think about it: Happiness is contagious. Even when you’re an unhappy customer with a problem on your hands, when you talk with a customer service rep who happily engages with you and quickly solves the problem at hand, it turns everything about your day around—and often changes everything about your perception of that brand. Happy customers feel good about the brands that make them feel that way. That means they are more likely stay around, and buy more products or services on a regular basis. That also means they are exponentially more likely to refer friends to the business, because they want their needs to be met and for them to be as well taken care of as they feel they themselves are.
Streamlined, more efficient operations, cost reductions, better communication, enhanced cohesiveness of teams and improved collaboration, more engaged, more satisfied employees who stay in their jobs longer and who endeavor to create better, more fulfilling customer experiences at every turn—all these things are examples of improving productivity to impact growth and profitability. Even better—businesses who are able to nail productivity stand to develop a significant competitive advantage over their counterparts who languish in the “we’ll just do it old school” days of yore. Today’s business productivity is fueled by technology and the adoption of smart tools and workplace solutions in some manner or another.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, creative pro, techie, or one of today’s business pros who’d rather be the boss than work for one, knowing how to put technology and innovation to work for you and your business can be a fast track to improved operations, more rapid growth, and greater profitability—not to mention that significant competitive business advantage we all seek.
That’s why you need to make time to attend Work Smarter: Productivity Tools for Your Business, episode 207 of the Microsoft Office Small Business Academy, a monthly web series created by the team at Microsoft for small businesses and entrepreneurs just like you. The goal of the series is to provide ideas, inspiration, resources, and actionable insights you can immediately put to work in your business.
This episode features guests Robert Sher, the Founding Principal of CEO to CEO and Forbes columnist, who’ll discuss the seven silent growth killers that can destroy your organization’s productivity and show you some common pitfalls to watch out for, and Jeff Haden, a contributing writer to Inc. Magazine, who’ll cover how to streamline operations with technology solutions.
Don’t delay, register for the webcast now to save your spot and I’ll “see” you there. Registration link is here and signup is quick and easy: Register Here. The event is on Tuesday, March 28th at 9am PT/12pm ET.
This post is sponsored by Microsoft Small Business Academy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.