Effective and Efficient Communication
The efficient flow of information to and within a business is necessary if the business is to remain viable and competitive in the ever-changing modern business world. As new technologies are introduced and new players enter the marketplace, the business must readily adapt. Effective communication of relevant information is key to keeping abreast of changing trends and timely updating business strategies. Additionally, effective communication tools enable the company employees to produce at an efficient rate, both as individuals and work teams.
Below is a categorical list of systems that we see companies use to enable communication of the information necessary to compete. Information Technology plays a vital role in the development and support of these systems and tools.
Good IT systems enable efficient and reliable use of collaboration tools, which can significantly improve production efficiency in any business. Collaboration tools cover a wide range of functions such as:
- Audio/Video Conferencing
- Contact Management
- Document Management
- Group Calendars
- Project Management
- Task Management
How often have you not used some of these collaboration tools because they were unreliable or temporarily unavailable? What happens to your workgroup’s productivity when these systems are down? Do you have multiple individuals spending idle time waiting for resolution of the related IT problems? Do you have to resort to more primitive and less productive methods of collaborating during system downtime? A good MSP can keep these systems up and running, so that collaboration efforts are optimized, tools are used as desired, and planned workflow experiences minimal interruptions.
Data and Information Management
A good data and information management system can automate collation and reporting of business-critical data and information in the form of reports. The reports can be used to assist management with strategic level support of the company objectives, for example:
- prediction of resource demand and resource allocation
- identification of system bottlenecks
- help identify opportunities for expanding content offering
- enables proactive response to prevent escalation of negative trends or to enhance the growth of positive trends
Sales / Marketing
IT systems and tools can enhance marketing efforts. Systems can be designed and operated in ways that efficiently communicate the company’s identity (or brand) to a large potential customer base. Examples may include the use of blogs and web pages. Good IT systems can assist these efforts by efficient cataloging and retrieval of marketing information. Wikipedia provides a relevant list of internal operational information that helps companies routinely review market information and make relevant adjustments to their business strategies:
- Sales data, presented in a graphic format, can provide regular sales trend information and highlight whether certain customer types need to be targeted or focused.
- Price information by product line, compare with competitors, can monitor market trends; analyzed by customer type, it can check price trends in customer groups.
- Stock level data and trends in key accounts or distributors, focusing on whether different outlets need support, provide market share information.
- Market support information, coordinating the effects of marketing promotions, through advertising, direct marketing, trade incentives, consumer competitions and so on, helps to determine whether decisions are being made effectively.
- Competitive information, reviewing competitors’ promotions and communications to see if the company is doing it better or worse than competitors, can improve market targeting.
Given the pace of change in the modern business world, it is important that IT support maintains functional systems and tools to routinely and accurately collect and report this information.
Digitization and Automation
Digitization of data and information is becoming commonplace in many businesses. While the primary benefits of digitization may be paperwork reduction, many other benefits result. Going digital allows greater access to information that was previously unattainable or too difficult and time-consuming to pursue. This can significantly reduce administrative overhead associated with document archive and retrieval, and greatly improve the flow of information. Results include improved customer satisfaction and greater operational efficiency.
Consider, for example, how modern medical facilities store patient records and communicate the information to the patients. In recent history, hospital staff attending to patients (MDs, RNs, MTs, etc.) manually wrote notes to record patient interactions, such as treatment administered, medication is given, vital signs observed, lab test results, etc. This information was later entered into a local computer database, which was accessible to medical and administrative staff with the requisite permissions. Data review was typically limited to a daily review of the prior day’s results, in support of updating the treatment plan. The information delivered to the patient was limited to a few comments from the attending medical staff, with little to no communication offered to the patient regarding the data and information collected and analyzed. Without the same information available to the patient as was available to the medical staff, the patient’s ability to participate in decisions about treatment was severely restricted. Much has changed with the application of new technology.
With more modern medical information systems, medical staff enters the data and information into the database directly at the time and location where the information is collected, consuming no more time than it previously took to record notes manually. There is no need for additional administrative time spent translating notes into data entry at the expense of time spent away from attending to patients. This improved practice allows medical staff more time attending to patients and less time spent on data entry. Utilizing IoT, some of the data is directly transferred from the recording device to the database, with no human intervention required. This not only saves time but also reduces the incidence of data entry errors.
Analysis of the data is automated, for example plotting trends of vital signs, blood test results, etc. The patient can go online and review status and results, which prepares her/him for informed communications with the medical staff. The result is a more engaged patient/provider relationship, greater customer satisfaction, and no doubt a higher rate of quality service delivery.
Similar benefits arising from digitization and automation in the medical industry are available to any industry where data and information are necessary for business workflow. Systems are scalable, so you only need to invest in the level of technology that optimizes the ROI on your IT investment. A qualified IT MSP can help you assess the potential value of converting from paper to digital workflows, or upgrading your existing digital workflows.
Computer Based Training (CBT)
Employees must have sufficient knowledge and skills to effectively perform for their company. Training is often necessary for the employee to achieve a level of productivity in a reasonable time frame. Often, classical classroom type training is expensive to deploy. Fortunately, a wide range of subjects can be successfully taught via computer based training (CBT), where the student can attend remotely, even from his normal work location. CBT can typically be deployed at a fraction of the cost of conventional classroom-based training, allowing companies to reduce their training budget or achieve greater results for the same budget. The end result is cost efficient production efficiency improvement.
Custom Information Services (CIS) is equipped to provide excellent IT support services for all of the categories highlighted in this post.