4 Beneficial Ways That Technology Has Changed How We Do Business
Last week, I talked about all the fun new things Artificial Intelligence machines have been learning, like fear and creativity. There’s no arguing that technology has been growing and improving at an accelerated rate over the past few years. Mobile phones are more powerful than they were even five years ago, many acting as little computers. Technology is so powerful that these days, we don’t even need office buildings; Deep Core Data had been operating remotely for two whole years before we finally got our office!
Many of us know that it hasn’t always been this way. I remember spending weekends at the office with my mom because she needed to catch up on something. While I was playing with office supplies and racing office chairs with my brother, she was hard at work on computers that ran Windows 95 and chugged away without internet connections. So how far has technology come, and how has it changed how we do business? Let’s take a look!
1. Ease of Communication and Collaboration
The only way this picture could get more 90s would be if MC Hammer showed up.
Growing up, telephones had dials, were hung up on the walls, and had cords. Mobile phones were the size of a brick, and didn’t do much besides call people (and eventually play Snake). While mobile phones are once again growing in dimension, many are less than half an inch thick, and are predominantly composed of a screen. These cell phones are capable of checking email, as well as sending texts and instant messages in addition to making phone calls. They can take pictures, of their own screens as well as the world around them. Sharing information is easier than ever.
But wireless technology isn’t the only way communication has been made easier. Generations ago, meetings had to be held in conference rooms, and if you weren’t able to make the meeting, you missed out. Now, applications like Skype and WebEx make video conferencing available to anyone with an internet connected device. If your company has its finger on the pulse of technology (which it should), gone are the days of missing meetings because you’re sick, snowed in, or in a different country. Now, as long as you have an internet connection (or a hefty data plan), you can hold a meeting from just about anywhere.
But this boost in communication doesn’t just exist in the office! Social media is a great way to get connected not only with other individuals in your industry, but with potential clients and customers as well. Many companies are now finding that networking and word of mouth marketing are some of the most effective ways to grow a business. Running a company blog is as legitimate a form of advertising as running ads on TV or the local radio stations. In some demographics, it’s an even better for of advertising, as many of the younger generations prefer to stream their music and television these days.
2. Increased Access to Resources
Telecommuting doesn’t just rely on video conferencing software to make it a viable way to do business; cloud computing is a big part of it as well. Cloud computing allows workers to access data from anywhere there’s an internet connection. This data can refer to anything from applications, to emails, databases, and files – all the things you need to work over the course of a day. Cloud computing can reduce costs for businesses by reducing their reliance on hardware, and many applications that exist in the cloud offer subscription-based services. This can be a lot easier on the wallets of small businesses who can’t afford lump sum prices that can reach 6 or 7 digits.
Cloud computing also centralizes data, ensuring that everyone who accesses a file or application sees the same version as everyone else. This is a great improvement over the old days, when documents had to be sent over email, or even worse, photocopied and spread by hand (and let’s not get started on fax machines).
Outsourcing, which has been greatly spurred by the ability to work remotely, has also made a significant impact on how businesses operate, and the amount of resources at their disposal. A business solely dedicated to producing a specific product no longer has to dedicate part of their resources on things like IT, accounting, or payroll, enabling them to focus more on their specialty.
This graph was created by Ray Kurzweil to illustrate Moore’s Law, which states that chip performance would double every 18 months (being a combination of the effect of more transistors and the transistors being faster). It’s been a fairly accurate prediction for the rate of technology’s improvement since 1975.
3. It’s More Cost Effective
As the level of technology advances, the cost of software goes down. We already covered this a little bit with cloud computing and their subscription services, but it goes beyond that. Programmers are more skilled and have more resources at their disposal as our knowledge of technology increases, making it quicker and less expensive to create software.
Technology also operates faster, and makes it easier to perform certain tasks, which means that people can get more done in a day. When more gets done, profits go up, so not only are businesses saving more, they’re making more money as well.
4. Increased Productivity and Efficiency
All of the previous points in this article come together to make this one big point: while technology comes with its own myriad of distractions, it’s also increased our ability to work efficiently and productively. We’re not just talking about productivity apps; technology has made almost everything quicker and easier, allowing us to get more done.
This is especially evident in sectors that rely heavily on bookkeeping and accounting; numbers used to have to be crunched by hand, and even the fastest mathematician is no match for a computer. This means that much larger volumes of data can be manipulated and transferred with relative ease and efficiency.
This is just a sample of the ways that technology has impacted business (after all, it also makes for great team building exercises), and obviously, as a tech writer at an IT consulting company I could on about how great technology is all day. But the point is that as we increase our technological capabilities, we will need to learn how to handle them, not as a hurdle to overcome or be overwhelmed by, but as tools to make life and business easier.
Because remember, most companies use computers, but every company needs a human.