One thing is certain, technology will never stand still. The near future looks busier than ever with technological advances that will affect how we do our jobs and what tools are available to help us do them better. The first challenge is to keep up! Here are some helpful considerations as to what we feel you and your business will need to start mastering in order to strive forward into 2018 and beyond.
The acceleration of technological change
Given that anyone over the age of 40 has seen personal computers first introduced during their lifetime, smartphones didn’t exist a decade ago and computer processing speed has been doubling every 18 months, we surely cannot keep going at this pace? Oh, but we can. And in general, technology is great for business.
Whilst some might feel that the easiest or perhaps the safest way is to continue to do things as they have always done, they are left never knowing what “better” might actually look like. And with such an incredible pace of technological change, we can never sit on our laurels as “better” is possible to achieve in almost every circumstance. With so much data available to us these days, the challenge is to extract the right data in the most useful formats and communicate it to the right personnel to make a difference. Optimising data and communication methods goes hand in hand with technology.
We can talk from experience here. Having worked closely with so many businesses that have used PartsArena as a stand-alone heating parts identification tool for many years – perhaps on their trade counter or via their mobile devices, we’ve helped many to understand the additional productivity benefits of integrating the software into their field service system – getting the right data directly into the hands of those that need it quickly. The same benefit can be said for field service software providers that have embraced adding value to their system with the integration of PartsArena Pro. These companies have had the foresight to see what “better” could look like and leant on us to help them get there. From our perspective, “integration” has definitely been the word of 2017 – and there is much more to come.
How do you keep abreast of technological changes?
There’s so much change afoot, how on earth do you keep informed and know what to embrace? You’ve got enough on your plate just running your business day to day! But part of running your business is to identify new capabilities that can drive it forward; be it to improve internal efficiencies, reduce costs or drive sales up.
Make it part of your weekly routine to do something to keep informed: read publications that focus on new technologies, for example Field Service News and Housing Technology, to understand how businesses are using them; monitor how leading firms outside your industry are embracing new technological capabilities; take advantage of every training opportunity; ask your customers and business partners what new technologies they are exploring. A little bit of exploration every week will pay huge dividends to the success of your business.
Retaining the skills that your company needs
In many industries, finding and retaining the skills that you require amongst your team can be increasingly challenging. Good employees have choices and will gravitate towards employers that offer them a productive and rewarding role. This is not just about the salary, it’s also about providing them with the right tools and support to carry out their job effectively. Remember the data and communication point earlier? Technology can help you to become a better employer, which in turn attracts a better calibre of employee, enhancing your productivity and profitability, not forgetting that new millennials now expect to use the latest technology available. The financial benefits of becoming a “good” company are huge and the challenge of maintaining high levels of employee satisfaction should be one that all businesses wish to embrace.
The silver tsunami quickens
There’s no escaping the expansion of the aging population and coupled with the need to retain the right skills, it’s starting to prove quite a headache for many businesses. The older workforce developed their knowledge before the onset of technology. They proudly hold it in their heads and with their exit from the workforce, that essential knowledge goes too. Some might argue (ourselves included) that knowledge is actually more valuable than money for a business. Without the right knowledge, how can the work be done effectively? Once more, the solution is coming in the form of technology, with software such as knowledge management tools that can replace the “brains” of an older workforce. And with Millenials taking up the slack, they are ready and able to embrace this kind of technology to the full, having been brought up in the age of the computer.
In October 2017, Infomill was recognised as one of four IDC Innovators in the field service market. We were delighted to be chosen for AnswersAnywhere, our Knowledge-as-a-Service which combines people, process and technology to convert, deliver and continuously optimise the knowledge required for field service organisations to increase customer satisfaction, shorten field visits and drive efficiency, accuracy and profitability. Here at Infomill, we clearly understand the value of delivering knowledge to an ever-younger workforce and we have the tools to achieve this objective across many industries.
But data just got more serious
Whilst we all now want data in the most accessible and usable formats, we are also having to respect it far more than ever. Especially when it comes to customer data. May 25th 2018 will see the enforcement of GDPR, with heavy fines for those companies that don’t comply. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaces the Data Protection Directive 95 / 46 / EC and has been designed to harmonise data privacy laws across Europe. As the UK is still part of Europe until the Brexit process is complete, and even then, we’ll still trade with Europe, it’s imperative to sit up and take note. So perhaps this week’s task to become better informed should be to read up on the GDPR and start to assess how this change might affect the procedures within your business? You might find this link to the official GDPR Portal useful: https://www.eugdpr.org/key-changes.html
Hopefully, we’ve shed some light on some of the technological challenges that lie ahead for all of us. Gone are the days when we can stick our heads in the sand and hope it all goes away. It won’t. And it shouldn’t. We for one, can clearly demonstrate how such advancements offer your business a real and sustainable advantage in terms of productivity, cost management, employee satisfaction and ultimately, the profitability of your business. And that, we believe, is a challenge well worth embracing.