As 2019 draws to a close, most companies across Northern Ireland will already be setting in stone their objectives, goals and ambitions for the New Year ahead.
Ignoring the further expected uncertainty in the wider economic and political landscape that will prevail, there’s one area of your business which everyone must continue plan for and adapt to – digital transformation.
You may not address this area using that term, but there’s no doubt that your business is already on this unstoppable journey which in 2020 is going to move significantly faster.
Deloitte recently asked organisations what their three strategic priorities were for the year ahead and the three focus areas cited most were digital business models (71 percent), customer experience (61 percent) and cost control and efficiencies (53 percent).
Typically, most local businesses will have these high on their 2020 agendas. What’s important, if not crucial, is that they are strategically addressed.
Trying to keep up with the latest technology can either be exhausting or exciting. However, how well you can sell the products and services you provide will greatly depend on how you directly address the digital transformation now well under way.
Take Wi-Fi for example. Next year, it’ll be in more places. It will faster, more reliable and easier to access – and possibly cheaper. “Wi-Fi hunting” will become less of a pastime as customers automatically connect to Wi-Fi zones, which means they’ll be online even more, using social media, streaming content and searching to buy.
People will be even more mobile. Over 95 percent of households own at least one phone already and our reliance on this useful handheld gadget is only going to increase as social media and a growing range of useful apps continue to draw us in.
New workplace rules will continue to evolve. Building on what you are already doing, you and your staff will probably spend less time in the office and more time working on the move, at home or anywhere.
Your online presence will never be more important. Your website, your LinkedIn profile, Twitter handle or Instagram profile will be searched by more people (hopefully) seeking to engage, collaborate or do business.
How your customers interact with you will also continue to evolve. Traditional telephone contact will still have its place, but more and more us want quick answers online, a chat box or an email response.
So, as we look to 2020, it’s easy see why so many businesses rank ‘digital business models’ so highly in their strategic priorities. Operationally, there will be challenges in this.
Time, skills and cost will be a factor, but as you embrace these, it’s vital you have at least the very best, basic and most reliable technology assets at your disposal – and that they’re integrated to give you the best value and capacity you need.
In a nutshell, just a couple of last takeaways from me for 2019 as I wish you a peaceful Christmas and a very prosperous New Year.
Get Cloud cover: Invest in an IT solution that gives you the storage and capacity to do everything you need. Share files and information easily, work from anywhere and embrace the endless possibilities it provides. You’ll need it eventually, if you haven’t got it already.
Get an upgrade: As new Internet-based phone communication (or VoIP) continues to improve and broadband gets faster, there’s never a better time to ditch your ‘conventional’ lines. You’ll save money and your ‘old’ system, it’s about to be scrapped anyway and you’ll be surprised at how cheaply this can be done.
Protect your data: Cyber threats remain and could increase. With GDPR rules in full force, you’ll need to take a close look at how you’re protecting your data – and your customers’ information. There are plenty of solutions.
Embrace change: Around two-thirds of companies think new technology will grow their business, yet nearly half feel unconfident about using it, according to a recent UK survey of SMEs. Get advice and research the options. It is exciting, I promise.