Let’s face it: we’re accustomed to instant gratification in the Internet Age. With the expansion of technology, Amazon order confirmations arrive in email inboxes instantaneously, while hungry customers track the location of their much-awaited pizza delivery each step of the way.
Instant gratification is a sign of the times!
Likewise, if you want to run a sustainable, profitable business in 2019, then digitization is not only useful– it’s necessary. And it’s easier than you think.
Did you know that 30 percent of tasks involved in over half of all jobs could be automated using technology that exists right now?
According to McKinsey & Company, a global management consultancy firm, this number will grow even higher as technology develops–which is great news for your business, your employees and your profits.
And no, we’re not talking about robots coming to take over your job (although some pretty cool robots exist). From automatic “Abandoned Cart!” emails to payroll and employee onboarding, automation is already a mainstay of modern organizations.
So, looking for inspiration? Here’s just a few of the amazing ways to automate your business.
Artificial intelligence is taking over the world–and it should be taking over your daily processes. Machine- and deep-learning AI provides a cost-effective solution for both carrying out mundane day-to-day tasks and engaging with customers.
For example, AI-powered bots are revolutionizing customer service abilities by providing 24/7 assistance for regular inquiries and troubleshooting.
Meanwhile, SiriusDecisions, an industry analyst firm, found that sales reps spend only about one-quarter of their entire work week actually selling to customers. The rest of the time–approximately 27 hours each week–is spent on administrative tasks like data entry.
These duties tend to consume a lot of time and energy. Instead, by automating the process, employees could spend their time closing deals and making connections to new leads and investors.
Customer and Employee Relations
At its core, CRM, or customer relationship management, includes all the technologies and strategies involved in these relationships, like email marketing, telephone calls, mail and social media marketing
If it sounds like a lot — well, that’s because it is. Manually logging all customer data (accurately) throughout the sales funnel is time-consuming and subject to human error. It’s also nearly impossible to maintain communications with every single lead. In those cases, both the business and the customer suffer.
Thanks to automated email responses, data collection and communications, these problems are a relic of the past. According to a study by Enterprise Apps Today, over 60 percent of respondents believe that automation boosts customer experience. Digitization not only eases business processes, but it improves B2C ( business-to-consumer) relationships, too.
Hackers and cybersecurity threats are growing more complex and common every day. Automating your data security systems with AI machine learning can provide a base level of protection while freeing up IT professionals to focus on progressing your business’ systems or confronting only the most complex of threats.
According to McKinsey, digitizing data-heavy processes within businesses can cut costs by up to 90 percent. You can automate everything from employee and customer onboarding, legacy-system integration, data migration and far more.
Although the initial implementation of automation can take time, effort and money, the payoff is well worth the investment.
Where Should You Start?
To figure out where to start digitizing your business, there are a few questions you should be asking yourself, like: what would improve my customer’s experience and, how can I better communicate with customers?
Further questions such as: which tasks can I automate to save time and cut costs; and finally, how you can ease the daily tasks of your employees in order to better utilize their skills (productivity) are also important points to consider.
Whether you begin with cybersecurity, automating payroll and onboarding, or equipping your site with AI-powered technology, digitizing your small business will lead to happier employees, satisfied customers and a profitable structure for the future.
Running your business requires choosing the right tools for you and your employees. In order to streamline work-related productivity, many organizations are migrating to cloud-based office suites—specifically, Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google’s G Suite (formally known as Google Apps).
Both products boast a variety of helpful
productivity tools and the latest remote collaboration technologies. While it’s
impossible to say which one is “better,” this head-to-head comparison can help
you decide which office suite is a better fit
for your business.
What are G Suite & Office 365?
Office 365 and G Suite are suites, or packages, of powerful business tools that facilitate you and your employees day-to-day tasks using the cloud. They even provide business email addresses (i.e. email@example.com), along with apps for creating documents, spreadsheets, presentations, video conference calls, shared calendars and notes.
In addition, storing information on Google or Microsoft servers, rather than your own via these suites, can also save your business a lot of money when it comes to IT costs and maintenance.
Plans and Pricing
First, let’s look at plans and prices. It’s important to note that Microsoft requires an annual commitment, while Google offers you the option to make monthly payments if you prefer.
While both Office 365 and G Suite offer web and mobile apps (Outlook and Gmail, respectively) for email, there are some subtle differences.
One plus-side to Office 365 is the desktop version of Outlook, which is incredibly feature-rich and lets you sort and group emails with ease. Gmail, on the other hand, is widely used throughout the world. For this reason, a variety of third-party app options (like WordPress) can be linked to it to enhance its capabilities.
Cloud Data Storage
For the entry level plans, Office 365 Business Essentials wins out with 1 TB (terabyte) of storage per user, while the G Suite Basic plan only offers 30 GB. To make matters worse, G Suite includes emails in this storage limit, whereas Office 365 provides extra storage for email files and has an added archiving feature.
However, G Suite’s upgraded plans beat out most of Microsoft’s storage offerings. So long as your business has more than five employees, G Suite Business and Enterprise provides unlimited cloud storage (although, businesses with less than 5 employees on the “Business” plan are capped at 1 TB). Only Microsoft E3 plans and higher offer the same unlimited cloud storage.
Applications are the cornerstones of a suite’s functionality. G Suite and Office 365 offer you a variety of comparable apps for word processing, creating spreadsheets and presentations, all on the cloud!
While both services offer mobile and online apps, one major benefit of Office 365 is its desktop applications.
This means every user gets a free desktop version of the Office suite (i.e. Microsoft Word, Excel) to download.
These feature-rich apps expand far beyond the capabilities of the mobile and online versions, and are available on every plan except the ‘Business Essentials’.
These online applications make both suites ideal for remote collaboration. Microsoft Teams lets facilitates this with tools like real-time co-authoring, mentioning users by name and chat capabilities while working on OneDrive. Microsoft now lets you collaborate using its desktop apps, too, although the updates to shared files are a bit sluggish compared to its online apps.
Similarly, G Suite offers Hangouts for
chats, and Google Drive for real-time collaboration. Google’s online and mobile
apps were created with cloud collaboration in mind, so some might find them a
bit more user-friendly.
For remote meetings, G Suite and Office 365 both offer group video conference calls. If you plan on large-scale video conferences, then Office 365 offers far more for your money: most plans have a 250-participant limit, while the E3 plan increases to an astounding 10,000-person limit.
Meanwhile, G Suite’s Google Meet allows up to 25 participants on the “Basic” plan, 50 on the “Business” plan and 100 on the “Enterprise” plan.
Cloud services are running into a variety
of security issues, and these suites are no exception.
A 2019 Barracuda Networks’ report found that a large percent of ATO (account takeover) attacks were targeted at Microsoft Office 365 accounts after businesses migrated emails to the service. These attacks prompted the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to issue a set of best practices to help organizations migrate their email services while avoiding risks and vulnerabilities.
Meanwhile, Google recently announced that a cloud storage feature for encrypted passwords on its “Enterprise” plans was faulty. As a result, some user passwords were stored in plaintext on Google’s servers!
While cloud computing has its risks, the two suites do have impressive security features. G Suite is comparable to Google’s own level of security, and offers AI detection of suspicious activity, Two-Factor authentication and data leak protection—in which admins can block outgoing communication determined by set keywords.
On the other hand, Office 365 has the
option of Multiple
Factor Authentication, along with detection of malware, viruses and suspicious
activities. Microsoft also provides data loss protection, and admins can
restrict access to company-issued devices only.
Ease of Use
So, which is easier to use? Well, it depends on who you are, and your ability to grasp software quickly.
If you’re accustomed to working with MS
Word or Excel documents, and edit them for work on a regular basis, then Office
365 and its desktop-to-online formatting compatibility will probably be your
best bet. This is especially true if your company solely computes with Windows
However, new users might find G Suite apps
easier to learn, as the tools are a bit simpler and straightforward.
is best for you? A Summary:
Some key benefits of each suite: Firstly, Office 365 offers feature-rich apps, and most of its plans come with desktop version of MS Office applications—a definite advantage over its competitors.
Its entry level plan is far more generous in terms of data storage than G Suite’s “Basic” plan. In addition, businesses that already exclusively use Windows technology are likely to find Office 365 better-suited for their needs.
With that said, G Suite was originally designed as a cloud collaborative productivity tool. Therefore, its features might be easier for collaboration and can be used among a wider variety of Windows and Mac devices. In addition, G Suite “Business” plans and above outdoes Microsofts’ when it comes to unlimited cloud file storage.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you which of the two is “best.” But, with this knowledge in mind, you can make an informed decision to choose the best cloud suite for you.
It’s 2019, and the Cloud is everywhere—from the apps we use every day to the infrastructure of global tech giants.
According to researchers at Gartner,
revenue generated from public cloud services is projected to grow 17.5 percent
in 2019. This amounts to a total of $214.3 billion, up from $182.4 billion in
More than a third of organizations surveyed by Gartner saw cloud investments as a top three investment priority. With this kind of growth, tech organizations are racing to get onboard with cloud-only software and platforms. Here are some of the trends to look out for this year:
Cloud, Multi-Cloud and Mergers
IBM announced its purchase of Red Hat last October, calling it the “most significant tech acquisition of 2018.” This combined Red Hat’s extensive network of open-source clouds with IBM’s Hybrid Cloud team.
Mergers like these are likely to become a trend this year, as companies see the vast benefit of using multiple clouds across all sectors of their organization. Furthermore, this system will dominate in the future, as businesses find public clouds inadequate to meet every one of their requirements.
As a more flexible and functional solution,
many organizations will shift to a network of multiple private, public and
hybrid clouds in the coming years.
Serverless computing is a young market in technology, but it will continue growing in 2019. Serverless computing isn’t actually “serverless.” Instead, it is a cloud-computing model in which the cloud provider itself runs the server on a dynamic, as-used basis (FaaS).
Rather than buying server space, developers
can simply use a back-end cloud service to code, only paying for the server
space they actually use.
As this relatively new technology develops,
we can expect to see more companies providing and expanding their “serverless”
Although cloud technologies are growing exponentially, artificial intelligence (AI) could prove an even greater economic driving force. This is because according to Accenture, the impact of AI could double economic growth rates by 2035 in developed countries.
Amazon, Twilio and Nvidia, to name a few, are thus, incorporating AI with cloud computing, next-gen GPUs and the Internet of Things (IoT). This has led to the developing of applications with “smart assistants,” and voice-to-text technologies.
Such a combination of AI and the cloud provides an extremely powerful and unconstrained computing network.
Digital transformation is already underway, with Gartner also projecting that 83 percent of all workloads will shift to the cloud by 2020. However, this movement presents issues of cybersecurity.
Many businesses have not properly secured their cloud-stored data. For example, marketing and data aggregation firm Exactis left around 340 million records exposed on its cloud servers. This was uncovered in a data breach last year.
The implementation of the General Data Practice Regulations (GDPR) makes this even trickier. The GDPR affects cloud security, and IT companies will likely struggle to comply with these new laws while protecting sensitive information.
Cloud computing services are progressing exponentially, as are their new developments. As a result, 2019 will surely be filled with businesses pouring investment into enterprise solutions. This while expanding, securing and implementing cloud technologies to their fullest extent.
Bridget is a freelance writer and editor, and the founder of Lost Bridge Blog, where she writes about traveling as a Millennial woman on a budget. When not writing, you can find her traveling, drinking inhuman amounts of caffeine and scrolling through the latest tech & political news.
One often hears the phrase “technology is your friend”.
To what extent the friendliness/support is, depends on how you embrace it.
It can be the most effective “companion” to assist you to cope with your daily activities or business plans.