How to move your business into the 21st Century

By: Murali Urs, Country Manager, Barracuda Networks

Since the turn of the century have seen unprecedented change to the way organizations — and their customers — do their business. And the old saying ‘evolve or die’ has never been so apt. Companies of all shapes and sizes now face the mission-critical — and constant — task of adapting new technology to improve their efficiency and productivity . We’ve put together some of the more important trends we think you need to embrace in order to future-proof your business, and stay ahead of the field as this chaotic century continues apace!

1. Social Media

The rise of social media — and its impact on how businesses interact with their customers — has been one of the most seismic shifts in recent years. The numbers say it all; while a Times Square signage advertising can expect nearly 1.5 million impressions each day, Facebook had 1.71 billion monthly active users!

Increasingly, people expect to be able to interact with your business publicly, in real-time. Social media represents an amazing opportunity to reach more people, promote your business, deliver outstanding customer service, and resolve consumer grievances to minimize churn.

Our top tips for dealing with the social craze are:
Ensure you have a well-branded presence on Facebook and Twitter.
Create a social media calendar so you can plan your content output and campaigns in advance
Monitor the channels regularly and make sure you respond to all comments and messages — good and bad!

2. Responsive Design

Another earth-shattering development over recent years has been the staggering growth of mobile devices. Whereas back in Y2K you’d be most likely to use your phone purely for calling and texting (with the occasional game of Snake thrown in…) we now use mobile devices everywhere, and for pretty much everything. Invariably, customers now expect a truly consistent experience, whichever device they use to reach your business.

That’s why it’s absolutely vital to ensure that you’re using responsive design on your website. ‘Responsive design’ just means that your website recognizes which device a viewer is using and displays an optimized version for that device.

3. Go Paperless

Going paperless is not only an amazing thing to do for the environment, it can make a difference to your bottom line. The average employee prints an astonishing 10,000 sheets of paper every year 2 which is an unnecessary expense you could surely do without!

Going paperless is also a great way to streamline your processes and manage projects more efficiently. Cutting down on the amount of paper in your business ensures important decisions and processes are no longer informed by flimsy scraps of paper and manual spreadsheets — while providing the peace-of-mind that your important documents are securely backed up and protected.

4. File Storage

The days of huge filing cabinets jamming up your office space are surely a thing of the past! There are too many advantages to mention when it comes to cloud storage. It’s inexpensive, saving you the expense of costly backups, and, since your data is encrypted, it’s infinitely more secure. It’s also easy for the relevant people to gain access, great for collaboration and — of course — saves your physical space.

With such a wide range of affordable options available, it seems crazy that businesses continue to run the risk of losing precious documents as a result of fire or flood.

5. Security

A lot of things have changed over the years, but — unfortunately — cyber threats have been one, unwelcome constant. Security techniques have certainly evolved, but then, so have the risks. It’s absolutely vital that you take precautions to keep your business safe.

According to a report by PWC, in 2015, there were 38 percent more security incidents detected than in 2014., causing catastrophic financial damage. In 2015, companies saw an average of 160 successful cyber attacks per week, more than three times the 2010 average of 50 per week, according to a report by the Heritage Foundation.

There are a number of things to consider to ensure you’re protected, from firewalls, to anti-virus scans, and encryption of your sensitive data. Success often boils down to planning; how are you meeting the threats that are ‘out there’ and do you have a contingency plan to put into action if the worst happens — an early response can hugely mitigate the impact of an attack!

6. eSignatures

As technology has soared over recent years, many processes have been simplified and streamlined. But, bizarrely, the act of getting a document signed up is as sluggish and inefficient as ever, with businesses still relying on archaic methods to get the job done.

Using eSignatures, you can forget about the printing, signing, scanning, mailing and — above all — WAITING, associated with the old-fashioned techniques. eSignatures are legally binding, just like real signatures, and they allow your staff, clients and partners to sign documents digitally (across multiple devices) and have them back to you in a matter of minutes.

Get with the times!

The world has never turned so fast, certainly with regard to technological innovation. And, while that makes it (in our humble opinion) probably the most exciting time in living memory to do business, it also presents unique challenges. You need to move with the times, keep your finger on the pulse and ensure that you’re utilising every technical advantage you possibly can.

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