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The virtual rat race: digitise and don’t let your business get left behind

For a business to compete effectively in the modern world, it needs an online presence – but this goes further than just having a website. In fact, an outdated website could just as easily have a negative impact on your business as not having one at all.
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These days, digital processes are so ingrained into the way we do things that a business can’t afford to ignore it. Here are some ways you can digitise to stay competitive.

For a business to compete effectively in the modern world, it needs an online presence – but this goes further than just having a website. In fact, an outdated website could just as easily have a negative impact on your business as not having one at all.

A potential customer will often not only expect to be able to find a company website, but also a social media presence, an online shop and potentially even an app.

In addition to how the business presents itself to the outside world, partners and clients may also expect collaborative, digital working processes within the company.

For example, converting paper documents to digital documents makes them more shareable and searchable, and can also offer a more robust disaster recovery plan.

All of this contributes to the overall reputation of the business, but not only that, it can contribute to efficiency and productivity and ultimately be good for your bottom line.

Here, we outline a few digital processes that could help your business improve its digital reputation.

Updating your telephony

If you have a business that relies on the good old fashioned phone call, you might benefit from updating your telephony systems.

Initially, it is tempting to think if it’s not broken don’t fix it – telephones work perfectly well. However, for many businesses a Voice Over IP (VOIP) system can make huge improvements.

VOIP calls are cheaper, so if you find yourself running up a big phone bill making sales calls, it could be a good alternative. In addition, VOIP providers can enable more flexibility as you can take a call from different devices, such as a smartphone or laptop, and work on the go.

Bring your own devices

Another new scheme that has been gaining popularity is Bring your own device, or BYOD. This allows employees to bring their own devices in, such as laptops, smartphones, or tablets.

There is evidence to suggest this improves employee morale, and it also ensures they are always within reach of their emails and can work on the go – whether they’re away at a meeting or a conference, they can complete their work seamlessly.

Up in the cloud

Storing something in the cloud essentially means storing it on the internet rather than on your own servers, and is a simple way to digitise your data.

For example, if you have an email account with Google or Hotmail, this is a cloud service – your emails are not stored on your server, but over the internet.

There are a great many cloud applications available for businesses of all sizes, but typically the advantages of cloud services include scalability, price, and improved disaster recovery.

Web and video conferencing

Typically, a web conference would be a seminar – one person speaking, and displayed as a video to an audience that could be scattered around the globe. Further evidence that it pays to digitise!

A video conference on the other hand is usually a more collaborative affair, with everyone being able to chip in to the conversation rather than it being a one-way stream.

The advantages of these services include increased flexibility, and reduced costs as participants would not have to commute to a meeting room.

Staying secure

Of course, as much as these new ways of working can bring great advantages, they should be approached with caution.

For example, some older conferencing systems don’t support encryption, which could potentially lead to a data leak if someone taps in to an important meeting. If you’re going to share sensitive data over a video conference, make sure you are using one of the latest, more secure systems.

Furthermore, according to Cisco, around 52 per cent of smartphone users report using unsecured WiFi networks with their devices, which can leave data open to theft by cyber criminals.

It is critical to ensure that your staff are trained on cybersecurity and use only secure networks and devices, and that all software is kept up to date and patched to prevent cyber attacks.

Deciding to digitise processes offers smaller businesses the opportunity to compete with large corporations on a more level playing field. As long as the proper measures are taken to protect your business, there’s a world full of customers up for grabs, and going digital could take your business to the next level.

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About Author

Letitia Booty

Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Real Business. She has a BA in english literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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