For many companies — even those that were on an upward trajectory in 2019 — the COVID-19 pandemic slowed business growth. Specific reasons varied from consumer needs changing due to new routines (such as working from home rather than going to the office and spending money at nearby restaurants) to consumers not wanting to subject themselves to crowded stores.
If growth has stalled for your business, the path back toward it will depend on the needs of your customers. However, some technology solutions have the potential to help companies across the board, no matter how much things have slowed down or what industry you’re in. While it may seem counterintuitive to invest in new solutions when revenue is down, remember the old adage that at times you have to spend money to make money.
Many technologies can boost growth potential. But here we’ve selected several that many experts agree are highly useful for supporting business growth now.
1. Cloud Computing
Transferring some of your operations to the cloud can have multiple benefits, including greater security and efficiency, and seamless access for employees working remotely. With these benefits in place, you will gain flexibility and mobility with reduced fear of downtime, crashes, or lost data. These conditions will enable you to focus more on important tasks like research, development, and marketing.
Keep in mind that there are 3 major types of cloud deployments: public, private, and hybrid. Public services are operated on a pay-per-use model. Private ones are customized and run by a single business for its own use. And the hybrid model enables companies to use a combination of these 2 options.
The following video from major cloud provider AWS describes the specific benefits of the public model:
2. Data Analytics
Analyzing relevant data for actionable insights can take your business to a whole new level. For example, understanding how customer preferences have shifted during the pandemic can help you design better products and services. Knowing online use patterns can boost your marketing success.
You can also analyze data related to internal processes, such as equipment functioning, manufacturing, and worker productivity, to understand how to optimize them for greatest efficiency. Such analysis creates an environment of constant improvement and greater growth potential.
3. Social Media
Social media is still an excellent way to deliver your message, helping you gain wider recognition and new sales. If you’ve never developed a social media strategy, or if yours could use a refresh, here are a few tips:
Go where your customers are. Each social media platform has its own users. For example, while Facebook used to have a younger demographic, it’s now primarily used by older people, and Generations Y and Z prefer Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.
Create separate strategies. Once you understand that each platform has its own demographic, customize your messages for them. Additionally, create content that makes the best use of each platform’s features, such as TikTok’s video format.
Create a realistic budget. Every company wants its content to go viral but that doesn’t always happen. Create a budget for advertising that can be dialed up or down depending on how well your posts perform.
Be consistent. Create a calendar to ensure you post regularly (though not too often). Determine what kinds of posts you will develop and leave enough time for creation ahead of time.
4. Customer Self-Help
As consumers become more tech-savvy, they want to perform more tasks on their own without human assistance. The more self-help options you can deliver to them, the happier they will be with your service. And customer experience (CX) — that is, the experience customers have based on the totality of their interactions with you — is no small thing. Today, it’s one of the primary factors driving company success.
Some self-help options to consider include a frictionless e-commerce site, detailed FAQs, easy and automated returns and exchanges, shopping assistance (such as suggestions for other products a customer might like), and automated scheduling. Within physical stores, customers appreciate an efficient curbside pickup, mobile payments, and customized shopping experiences.
5. Remote Work Solutions
The future of work is remote. The easier you can make it for team members to work from home, the happier they will be, and the larger a pool you will have from which to select new job candidates. Additionally, you will save money on office space, especially if you transition to an all-remote arrangement. These factors will help to advance your company to the next stage of growth.
Some specific technologies that are important for remote work include the following:
- Communications software
- Video conferencing tools
- Document storage and exchange
- Collaboration solution
- Project management tools
- Equipment and IT services to help remote workers create a robust home office environment
Make the Most of Technology Solutions
To ensure any new technology you adapt will help you reach your goals, keep in mind the following tips:
Don’t use technology for technology’s sake. Before investing in any new solution, be sure it is designed to meet a specific business need.
Choose the right solution. Conduct as much research as you need to ensure you’re getting the best product for your company, taking into consideration plans for the future as well as today.
Involve employees. The people who will be using the technology should have a say in decisions about which solutions you choose.
Have specific goals in mind. If a solution doesn’t end up helping in the way you expected, you may need a different product or another direction entirely. This is an expensive lesson, but one that’s better to know than not know.
Don’t forget about training. Remember that you’ll need to train employees on the new technology. Start the transition process well in advance to help them adjust to the change at their own pace.