The last few years have forced the hand of most businesses to leave behind many of the legacy technology systems and processes that had once been foundational to their operations. The growth of the cloud, the plunge into the work-from-anywhere life, and other global shifts have made it impossible for any forward-thinking business focused on growth to rely on outdated technologies and processes. But many organizations have embraced new solutions in a piecemeal way — focusing on technologies as they become popular without truly considering their long-term effects on their environments.
But three trends have tangible, evidential positive effects on businesses of all kinds. If there are any trends to consider doubling down on in 2023 when upgrading your business systems, these three should be at the top: cloud, automation, and document management. Read on to get an in-depth look at what these trends are bringing to organizations of all sizes and industries — and how yours can benefit from them, too.
Trends to Consider When Updating Your Business Systems in 2023
Trend 1: The Cloud
The cloud is way past the hype of the early 2010s and delivers multiple benefits to businesses. It has two forms: cloud computing and cloud communications. Consider embracing both in 2023.
Your business likely uses a version of cloud computing today — even if it’s something as simple as Google Docs — but cloud computing solutions extend well beyond your Google Drive. You can leverage cloud computing tools for:
- Billing and monetization
- Community engagement
- Building and deploying applications
- Improving security
- Managing your network infrastructure
- And more
When considering cloud computing, note the three ways cloud services are delivered: through a public, private, or hybrid solution. Public clouds are easily accessible and less expensive than private clouds, but some businesses opt for private clouds for security purposes. Work with your technology advisor or a knowledgeable third party to select the right cloud for your organization’s needs.
You might also be using a form of cloud communications to keep employees connected in the work-from-anywhere era, but you may want to merge your scattered solutions in 2023 or opt for a more robust cloud communications solution. Today’s effective cloud communications tools will allow you to use messaging, phone calls, video conferencing, and screen sharing internally and externally.
The cloud offers a wide range of benefits to your business, some of which include:
- Cost savings. Unlike hardware-based or on-premise solutions, the cloud requires no hefty upfront equipment fees. Your solutions will be accessible in a pay-as-you-go format, giving you a more predictable monthly expense. You will also only have to pay for the number of seats — or users — using the solution, so you have more flexibility in case you need to scale up or down.
- Work-from-anywhere capabilities. To stay competitive, your business needs to remain attractive to talent, and that’s where offering robust cloud solutions helps. Employees are looking for flexibility in terms of where they work and want sophisticated technologies to help them do their jobs. The cloud offers both.
- Security. Contrary to older beliefs, the cloud is quite secure. Cloud providers routinely update their solutions, so you never have to worry about using outdated software that risks your business.
- Compliance. Many cloud providers offer built-in compliance capabilities in their solutions, so no matter if your industry is finance or healthcare, your workflows and data stay compliant in the cloud.
Trend 2: Automation
The concept of automation tends to have a mixed effect on employees: they’re either excited about its possibilities or afraid it will replace them. The latter is not the intent when introducing automation into your environment. Instead, automation has become more available and intertwined in business technology to augment existing teams, alleviate them from repeatable tasks, and help them redirect their labor toward more innovative, strategic work.
Automation in business solutions comes in many forms. At its core, it’s meant to introduce a system that completes repetitive work so humans can get that time back. Here are a few examples of automation:
- Chatbots. Much of customer service can be automated, and chatbots are a great example of how automation can help your customer service representatives devote themselves to more valuable work. Chatbots can handle basic customer service questions and give customers a self-help option, so more challenging service queries and issues are the only requests that make it to a human. With this level of automation, human workers can use their unique skills like intuition and empathy to address more complicated customer service issues — and let automation do the rest.
- Marketing. Many marketing initiatives can be handed over to automation — email marketing, for one. You no longer need humans to manually send out emails to your contact list or remember to follow up with nurture campaign messages. Email marketing automation can run your campaigns for you, and you can set up rules to ensure the technology ushers your contacts through appropriate sequences — bringing them down the funnel.
- Sales operations. Sales tasks that can be handed over to automation solutions are closely related to marketing efforts. Your salespeople likely did not become salespeople because they enjoy drawing up contracts and doing data entry. Automation can take care of a lot for sales, including capturing lead information and inputting it into your customer relationship management (CRM) solution, syncing your data among various tools, showing salespeople what next steps to take, scheduling meetings, and more.
- Payroll and other human resources (HR) needs. Much of HR can be automated, reducing the time your employees spend on tedious tasks and eliminating bottlenecks in paperwork and errors that require backtracking to fix. Processing timesheets and payroll are just two examples of where automation can introduce efficiencies so repeatable work like record-keeping can go to software instead of humans.
- Talent acquisition. Speaking of HR, hiring can see dramatic benefits from automation. You can automate your employee referral process so candidates that employees refer can automatically be processed through technology like chatbots, which then transfer referral data to recruiters and hiring managers. You can also use automation to streamline resume screening and let the technology review candidates based on the criteria you set.
Overall, automation can introduce productivity and efficiency on multiple levels. Plus, technology doesn’t take sick days or vacations, so more work can be completed faster — all year round.
Trend 3: Document Management
Gone are the days of manual, paper-based processes. Businesses still using paper risk non-compliance, security problems, inefficiencies, operational bottlenecks, and customer service issues. In today’s digital transformation era, your documents should be the first thing to move to a software solution.
It’s important to note that, even if your business doesn’t use paper, many digital document practices can also cause significant inefficiencies. Consider how electronic information stored on individual users’ computers remains inaccessible to others. That practice of locally storing data keeps information siloed and fragmented throughout your business. It can result in risky “tribal knowledge” scenarios where individual employees are the only ones with access to certain information — preventing ideas from spreading and introducing security issues if that employee leaves.
A document management solution is helpful on many levels:
- Security and compliance. Document management stores your files in either an on-premise or cloud-based system — allowing you to create clear audit trails, maintain document integrity, securely archive files, and track where documents have been. From a compliance standpoint, you need to maintain version control to see what changed and who changed it, which is a built-in capability in document management systems. You’ll also be able to leverage data encryption, disaster recovery options, and redundancy so your files are still accessible during an outage.
- Better collaboration. Passing paper around to various desks or emailing individual files from local drives doesn’t create a collaborative environment. Document management systems allow you to put your files in a single portal — accessible only by those who have the right permissions. With the system functioning as your central repository for all documents, sharing and collaborating become easier from any location. You’ll speed up workflows and produce more work in shorter time frames.
- Cost savings. With your files stored and accessible from a single, software-based portal, you’ll no longer need to pay for filing cabinets, folders, paper, ink, stamps, or office space for storage. You’ll instantly cut these high costs while also improving your carbon footprint.
- Improved customer experiences. When customers contact your business about an issue, your customer service team can easily and instantly access documents related to that query in your document management system. There’s no more waiting for files to be pulled or uncertainty about where certain documents are located. You can tag files in the system, so they are easily retrievable by any number of search criteria.
- Happier employees. All of the above benefits to your business improve the lives of employees. Their work lives improve when workers no longer have to deal with bottlenecks, avoidable errors, repeatable tasks, or clunky paper-based processes. They will be able to focus on meaningful work that contributes to the business instead of sifting through files — wasting time searching for relevant documents.
Few More Business Trends in 2023
- Sustainable Eco-Friendly Operations
- Reconfiguring the Supply Chain
- Balancing AI with Human Employees
- Business With a Purpose
- The Changing Employee Experience
Upgrade Your Business Processes the Smart Way in 2023
While these are just three of many evolving, helpful business technologies available today, they represent a wide swath of processes that can be sped up and improved with software. Whether you want to cut wasted labor hours, improve your customer service, achieve greater security, or give employees a better work/life balance, these solutions can help. They are more than just trends — they are ways to set up your business for a successful, competitive future.