Over the last twenty years, technology has become a driving force for business growth. Businesses can unlock new efficiencies, reach new customers, reduce operational costs and innovate when they deploy IT managed services as a way to drive forward growth.
Understanding how IT can unlock growth isn’t easy for every business. Especially when a company is new to outsourcing. With an internal IT team or department, innovation often comes second to service delivery, customer support, achieving departmental KPIs, and securing a budget for the next fiscal year.
All of this leaves little room for “digital transformation”; something that IT teams and the sector has been talking about for a long time now, and yet one that business leaders are still failing to benefit from fully. Too many businesses have haphazardly attempted digital transformation, implementing innovation in some areas, whilst neglecting it in others.
Gaining a competitive advantage during a time of slow economic growth, companies need to review how they work with IT. Instead of thinking of IT as another back-office team, advantages would be gained from assessing operational areas that need improvement, then finding technology solutions for those challenges. An internal IT team can implement some of this, whereas other solutions, such as IT service desk, cloud-processing and connectivity are more effective in the hands of an external partner.
How to assess where growth can be achieved
#1: Customer service and communications
When your customers or clients have a problem, how do they let you know?
Do they pick up the phone? Send an email? Tweet at you? Or have you already created an easy way to solve an issue themselves; therefore saving both of you time and money. Self-serve is the way forward for businesses. With enough information online, such as an FAQ or Knowledgebase, companies of all sizes can reduce customer service operational costs and keep customers happier.
Research already shows that 70% of people always or almost always search online for an answer before contacting a business. Imagine how much time that would save your team?
#2: Telephony and email
Cloud-based telephony and communication tools are flexible and scalable. Businesses that are still stuck with server-based emails and legacy, PBX phone systems, are risking critical systems failures and higher servicing costs down the road. Compared to those that have already switched to cloud-based email and VoIP telephony, which is also cloud-based.
These systems involve no capital expenditure. You can scale them up and down far more easily, and your IT team or an external provider can manage everything for your business.
#3: Collaborative tools
Working together, from anywhere in the world, has never been easier or cheaper. With Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and other secure interfaces, you don't need to worry about security anymore. There are collaborative tools for organisations and teams of all sizes. Many of them are accessible from a wide selection of devices, from desktops to smartphones.
Shifting from sharing documents - Word, Excel, etc. - through email to collaborative tools that anyone who needs access can use, comment, upload and share, is one of the most effective ways to unlock innovation in your team.
Beyond interpersonal collaboration, Gartner now predicts that connected devices (the Internet of Things: IoT) will involve “half of all business processes and systems” by 2020. Is your internal IT team equipped to support collaborative sharing and connected devices to unlock growth?
#4: Sales performance
Sales are increasingly reliant on data. Knowing who your sales team should meet with, call and pursue down the sales funnel is crucial for sales success. And yet, too many sales teams still hope that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is the silver bullet to sales challenges.
Unfortunately, that is rarely the case, since too many studies point to average failure rates around 50% over the last twenty years. Instead, organisations that depend on B2B sales teams - whether they are field-based or in the office - should look to innovative new tools that unlock the most effective data, the guide them towards maximising the advantages.
When sales performance increases, so does company revenue and profitability.
These are just a few of the areas that could be improved with the right approach to IT innovation. It is up to businesses to assess whether an internal team or department can unlock these advantages, or if this is something that should be outsourced. Another approach, which many businesses are finding useful, is to outsource help and service desk functions, making it easier to scale those up and down as needed, whilst leveraging an internal team - with external support and advice - to drive forward innovation.