Every business is built on a value proposition — price, customer service, unique products, convenience, catering to a particular persona or industry, etc. However, shifting customer and employee expectations can be one of the biggest threats to business continuity.
That’s what happened to Blockbuster. Ten years before the first Blockbuster opened in Dallas in 1985, video cassettes weren’t widely available. Twenty-five years later, the company closed, outflanked by the same rental model, but by mail service and kiosk, and succeeded by entertainment over the internet. Widespread adoption of new technology changes consumer outlook, buying habits and decision-making processes.
Digital transformation has taken root and changed consumer expectation. It is the answer to how to improve customer experience, even as it continually sets the bar higher. With limitless information at their fingertips, customers expect immediate response, rapid results/deliverables and competitive prices, regardless of time or location.
Employee expectations have also evolved. Just a few short years ago, surveyed employees anticipated workplace adoption of the following trends in the near future:
- Data Accessibility – data and applications being accessible regardless of location or device
- Flexible Workplaces – work-from-home or remote working options
- Automation – reducing employee hours spent on repetitive and administrative tasks
These trends are now reality. The cloud has transformed the accessibility of data and business applications. Remote work and flexible workplace options are rapidly gaining popularity. And, artificial intelligence is automating customer service efforts, as well as data-heavy analysis and repetitive admin tasks.
This shift in business technology, in turn, helps satisfy the new consumer demands. The same technology that enables flexible workplaces (known as unified communications), alongside increased data accessibility and automation, improves customer service response and internal productivity, often responding to the demands to do more with less in business by driving down resource and/or overhead costs that contribute to more competitive pricing models.
Many businesses will close or fail to thrive because of resistance to digital transformation. While adoption feels daunting to smaller businesses, there are some low-effort, cost-effective ways to put a digital foundation in place to future-proof your business for years to come.
Strategy 1: The Cloud
If you haven’t already embraced the cloud, it’s time to. Cloud migration offers several strategies to future-proof your business.
- Improved data accessibility: The cloud is what makes this possible. Data and applications you could once only access from your physical office on your work computer connected to your corporate network can now be accessed from any location with any connected device.
- Automatic updates: If there was ever a benefit aligned to future-proofing, it’s this one. By taking advantage of software-as-a-service (SaaS), you ensure your business is always equipped with the latest version of the application, including the latest productivity-enhancing features and the latest security measures. In fact, 94% of SMBs report having recognized security benefits after cloud migration.
- Gateway to new technologies: The cloud is the backbone of most emerging technology trends, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and other automation. The subscription-based, pay-for-what-you-need nature of cloud-based applications is how you do more with less in small business.
Strategy 2: Unified Communications
Unified communications is the key platform enabling flexible workplaces, improved customer service and increased availability. Boasting all the benefits of the cloud mentioned above, a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solution, such as our own OfficeSuite UC®:
- Enables business mobility and workplace flexibility.
- Reduces reliance on IT support by permitting employees to self-manage their own calling features and simplifying admin management with one online interface where you can manage your entire organization, including creating and assigning new phone numbers and permissions.
- Boosts availability outside the office and outside of traditional business hours with one business phone number across devices to improve customer service response times and gain new customers.
- Enhances internal and external collaboration with features such as IM, presence, availability, screen sharing, and, above all else, HD video conferencing. Video conferencing plays a major role in more frequent and flexible face-to-face engagement with clients and geographically dispersed teams.
Strategy 3: Scalable Connectivity
To enable the aforementioned strategies, your office must have not only sufficient bandwidth but scalable bandwidth that can future-proof your business as you adopt even more connected technologies and rely more heavily on cloud-based applications. Your current bandwidth may not be stretched thin now, but strategies to future-proof your business involve envisioning the delivery method of your internet connection rather than a concern over current speed requirements.
Chimney Oaks Golf Club and Residential Development is one example of a business that recognized the importance of scalable connectivity. Chimney Oaks and its new residential community with 300+ homes more than 75 miles northeast of Atlanta could not compete for a growing slice of the American professional class — remote workers — without offering high-speed internet connections comparable to what they were accustomed to in larger cities. By partnering with Kinetic Business to deliver fiber internet connections with scalable speeds up to 1 Gig to every home within the community, Chimney Oaks was able to overcome the primary concern voiced by their target market. “Connectivity is essential for the success of our development. The first question modern professionals ask is, ‘What’s the internet like?’ Being able to offer 1 gig connectivity in a rural area 75 miles outside of Atlanta has been a game changer for us,” says Brad Day, COO of Chimney Oaks.
Sure, your business might not need gig speed today, but when you do, can you get it? Or will the technology powering your current connection max out at far less bandwidth? Fiber internet is one of the few options capable of this type of scalability. That’s why Kinetic Business is building out our fiber infrastructure to expand high-bandwidth, future-proof connections to more businesses in our service area. Check to see when our expansion efforts will bring fiber-fast speeds to your location.
Another strategy to future-proof your business bandwidth needs is an SD-WAN solution. SD-WAN has numerous benefits, but, when it comes to capacity, it can aggregate multiple connections of different types or from different providers delivering a larger combined bandwidth, and, not to mention, redundancy and diversity benefits.
Strategy 4: Data Protection
With digital transformation comes an increased risk of cyberattacks. One of the most important aspects of business continuity is securing your data. Many businesses would fail if they lost their data. This means not only that regular backups (we’d suggest automatic cloud-based versions) are imperative, but also multilayered network security.
The problem is multilayered security requires a team of specialized security experts that come with a hefty staffing cost. Fortunately, for SMBs, there are managed solutions that can give you this level of protection at a more affordable rate. With Managed Network Security from Kinetic Business, you gain:
- a fully-managed firewall that comes in a PCI-compliant cloud version or an on-premises option
- content filtering
- intrusion prevention and detection
- application control
- expert deployment and management
The Future — Factors Unforeseen
We don’t know what the future holds, but we can be sure we’ll be chewing on how to improve customer experience, and how to do more with less in business. We can take note of digital trends that will inevitably impact business operations and success. Future-proofing a business is about laying a foundation that allows your business to adapt to technology changes quickly and remain competitive. Taking action on the four strategies above will position your business well for the future.
Finally, our experts are always available to discuss the best digital transformation strategy for your business.