1.) Business Intelligence
The ability to mine business data in order to identify and capitalise on customer trends has always been out of the reach of the majority of businesses, until now. Business Intelligence (BI) or business analytics is now widely available and, unlike the systems of the past, it doesn’t require expensive software and hardware, and it shouldn’t need too much input from IT. The latest BI software is downloadable as an app for your iPad and takes just a few minutes to setup and can be revealing trends in your data within minutes.
2.) Creating individual customer experiences
Providing customers with a tailored service is expensive and normally requires additional manpower. However, the rise of automated technologies such as customer relationship management software, combined with techniques such as segmentation, can allow businesses to provide a level of service that looks and feels like an individual experience, without you having to add extra manpower and without adding substantially to your costs.
“The ability to create apps specifically for your business has always been regarded as expensive. However, thanks to the success of Apple’s App Store there are now tens of thousands of well-qualified and cheap app developers.”
3.) Employee apps
Apps are everywhere and most businesses are using apps as part of their regular business toolkit, but why stop there? With an employee app your staff can have secure access to business data and forms on their own devices wherever they are, and you can control the level of access.
For most businesses, the ability to create apps specifically for your business has always been regarded as expensive. However, thanks to the success of Apple’s App Store there are now tens of thousands of well-qualified and cheap app developers. There are also more simple drag-and-drop tools like Appery.io,Codiqa and Conduit that allow you to create apps without too much programming knowledge.
4.) The virtual desktop
One of the big trends in enterprises over the last year is ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD). Hundreds of thousands of employees now use their own smartphone or tablet alongside their work computer to complete business tasks. However, some businesses are now going that one step further and allowing their employees to use their own devices entirely. While this may be a trend that works well in tech-savvy IT departments, it’s not something that works everywhere. Ideally, there still needs to be some sort of work device that users can fall back on, which is where virtual desktops come in. A virtual desktop can be accessed either from a web browser or as a dedicated application and gives the user access to all of their applications and data, no matter where they are or what device they are on. With a virtual desktop you still maintain control over your businesses data, you also have access to as much computing power as you need, so you can work on the most complicated spreadsheets on a smartphone. And, unlike a real desktop, it doesn’t need to be upgraded every couple of years. What’s more, adding a new desktop for a new employee takes a few seconds and, even better, you only pay for what you use.
5.) Everything as a service
As the use of cloud computing continues to increase, businesses won’t be just using the cloud to provide applications online such as Box or Salesforce, it will also be used more and more to outsource all of the things that aren’t central to the business or require an expensive expert such as a recruitment, delivery, warehousing, telesales, customer service, through to creating new ideas and raising finance.
There are now cloud-based services to source specific skills, services such as Odesk, Guru and Elance, which can be used to fulfil either full-time posts or specific projects on an ad-hoc basis. Other services like Crowdcube and Kickstarter allow you to use the cloud to get outside investors interested in a project without having to spend weeks and months trawling around angel investors.
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