There are few businesses today that aren’t in some way reliant on technology. Our digital age has produced tools with which to work more efficiently and introduced entirely new industries and marketplaces for entrepreneurs to explore.
As a business leader, it is imperative to diligently select the technology that you incorporate into your company. The tools you embrace can be instrumental in boosting your, keeping your staff engaged during difficult times, and even help to secure the long-term success of your endeavors. On the other hand, investing in the wrong gadgets can not just be financially unfavorable — but also waste time and productivity. In an almost constantly evolving digital landscape, it’s not always easy to understand which tools you should be embracing.
We’re going to take a closer look at some of the technology that is rising in importance for industry usage, and how they can be assets both now and in the future.
There is a tendency in some sectors to treat artificial intelligence (AI) with some hesitancy — or even suspicion. However, it remains the case that it is already starting to play a role in how businesses can function more efficiently, sustainably, and profitably. As such, to both secure your business’ future success and to be competitive in your industry, you must explore how machine learning can be used to make your practices more profitable.
One of the most popular ways that AI is used in the contemporary commercial landscape is through the supply chain. Indeed, this technology is among the primary elements that are shaping the way the supply chain will function in the future. This is largely about software that analyzes complex tasks — often using data provided by other tech tools such as sensors in the Internet of Things (IoT) — and provides information to supply chain managers to discover more efficient and cost-effective solutions. It also controls automated procedures, removing the manual application of repetitive, time-consuming tasks such as inventory management and shipping route planning.
AI can also be instrumental in helping you plan for your company’s future. By providing software with large volumes of data about your industry, the activities of your specific business, and the historical demands of your consumers, AI programs can help provide more accurate and agile supply and demand forecasting. As machine learning is becoming more sophisticated, it is providing higher quality scenario models that can help focus the direction of your business.
Over the past year or so, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to adopt remote working practices. While this was initially a knee-jerk reaction, it has become clear to many entrepreneurs that there are distinct advantages to this approach — increased productivity, worker satisfaction, and access to a diverse global workforce among them. As such, you may find that to remain competitive you need to make remote operations practical for your business through technology.
Perhaps the most important tech at your disposal here is robust communications platforms. You must provide distant teams with tools that can ensure they are always in contact and collaborate with agile methods. Cloud software suites like Microsoft Teams and Google Workspace give employees practical project management tools integrated with various communication methods — email, voice calls, instant messaging, and video conferencing. However, it’s also important to develop company protocols for these tools’ use so that they are applied appropriately and efficiently.
One of the potential drawbacks to remote operations is that you have disparate members of staff and leadership spread across the globe — including multiple time zones. This can make it more challenging for everyone to get involved in consistent, effective strategic planning. Not to mention that these remote meetings that can last hours can find attendees getting distracted with other tasks. As such, it is important to bridge the distance with technology that keeps workers engaged and organized no matter where they are. Utilizing collaborative applications such as whiteboards or shared documents that all colleagues can contribute to in real-time can ensure there are accurate notes on strategy and help everyone feel they are involved in the success of the project.
Tech for Sustainability
As we push toward the future, it is becoming more imperative that businesses take responsibility for their impact on the environment. This is not just from an ethical, socially conscious perspective either. Consumers are becoming more demanding that businesses should act sustainably. As such, your continued relevance can rely upon utilizing technology that helps you meet these standards.
A very basic area of focus here is minimizing the paper that is used in your offices. Applications that utilize the cloud allow you and your employees to undertake tasks and share documents while minimizing physical waste and resources. There are also more secure platforms that use protocols such as blockchain to make contracts available and safe to sign remotely. However, it’s important to remember that the cloud isn’t naturally sustainable — 4% of global CO2 emissions are caused by network infrastructure (server farms and data transfer processes among them). Therefore it’s important to work with cloud service providers to ascertain whether they are using renewable energy sources to run their platforms.
Indeed, engaging with solar power to run your company may be one of the most important additions for the future of your business. It can not only reduce your reliance upon more polluting, grid-based sources, but it can also provide a passive source of income in reselling power to electricity companies. There also needs to be a focus on investing in equipment with longer batteries and lifespans, as the prevalence of e-waste is damaging for both the environment and your business capital. While it can be tempting to buy cheaper items due to lower upfront costs, sustainable items will be more valuable in the long term.
Technology continues to play an important role in our society, and it can influence the future success of your business. Machine learning can help to make activities more efficient, while tools to support remote operations mean you can maintain a competitive global workforce. However, it is also important to adopt tech tools and practices that ensure your company takes its sustainability responsibilities seriously.