Progress your business through online technologies
Providing major opportunities in product and production innovation, digital technologies are increasingly altering the way we do business. Australian manufacturing firms who are technologically sophisticated, agile, adaptive and efficient will be most likely to excel. Small to medium enterprises are at the forefront of this, since they are able to adapt more readily than large organisations. Some key areas where digital technologies are increasingly influencing manufacturing companies include supply chain management, robotics, agile manufacturing techniques, greater customisation and improved production and procurement. Investing time in this area will help you progress your business into the future.
Through internet technologies, the opportunities facing Australian manufacturing SMEs are considerable. The ability to access new markets and customers from around the world presents a level playing field for smaller, nimbler businesses to compete directly with the major players anywhere in the world. Software, tools, templates and a global resource of best practice abounds across the internet which dramatically raises the opportunity for smaller companies to punch above their weight. Learning from major players and experts across the planet allows local companies to identify ways of continually progressing and innovating, leading to new opportunities, business models and markets.
Continually up-skilling staff is not only beneficial to their own professional development, and your business’ knowledge base over all, it provides an opportunity for fresh ideas, connections, heightened engagement and enthusiasm within the workforce. Up-skilling staff through online technologies enables them to contribute more in key areas, strengthens staff retention and maintains these key skills and know how within your business.
Face-to-face communication is not always possible nor the most efficient option. Video conferencing and other technologies such as instant messaging present users with the ability to communicate effectively across distance with colleagues, clients, suppliers, and/or prospective sales leads. Cost savings enable more frequent input from stakeholders, leading to enhanced opportunities for collaborative co-creation and market differentiation. Building collaborative relationships with your customers helps explore what they really want and value. Your business has the opportunity of using these insights to design organisational changes that compete internationally and are suited to customer needs. Consider, also, the benefits of available communication management capabilities such as conversation history with each and every stakeholder available at the touch of a button.
One of the most fundamental opportunities which exist for businesses using the internet as a core tool of their operations is the ability to collaborate with others more effectively. Whether it is used to improve open communications between staff or feedback loops between customers, the power of online collaboration is a tool which cannot be underestimated. Check out the module on ‘Communication & Collaboration’ for more detail.
Being agile and adaptive to emergent market environments provides a business with a heightened likelihood of continued success. ‘Design led innovation’ and ‘Open innovation’ are terms which are gaining traction internationally. Building collaborative relationships with customers helps explore what customers really want and your business has the opportunity to design organisational changes around customer needs. On-going review of internal operations, supply chain management, warehousing, client engagement mechanisms and material requirements planning can lead to the identification of improved process and innovation development.
Did you know, Australia has one of the highest ownership rates of smartphones in the world? We’ve all got them, we all use them. Experts say the future of computer technology rests in mobile computing in combination with wireless networking. Benefits for businesses that remotely access their information systems (e.g. stock database) include improved efficiency and an increased opportunity to provide better customer service. As an example, NSW-based Australis Engineering use mobile tablets to perform remote ‘real-time’ diagnostics of customer machines, providing enhanced customer service while reducing machine down time. Mobile technologies must be factored in as one of the keys tools for your business’ plans for the future.
The terms ‘cloud’ and ‘cloud computing’ are synonymous with the internet and although they have been around for a while they have come into favour in recent times. But what does it mean? The most immediate benefits of cloud computing for businesses are cost benefit and agility. No longer do small business need to purchase (and maintain) expensive software licences and servers – these can now be taken care of by expert third party suppliers at extremely cost competitive rates. The ability to access more or less online services, software and storage space requirements can immediately reflect the emerging needs of the business. For example, when you take on more staff, you can switch on new licenses immediately, and similarly turn off the tap if you scale down. For low cost communications and file sharing solutions consider Google’s online applications.