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How to build a business that thrives in the digital economy

You may not realise it, but you’re already an active part of the digital economy. As a business owner, how you choose to engage with it is up to you.

There’s no way around it — if you’re in business, chances are you’re operating at least a part of that business with the assistance of digital tools and platforms.

From managing the books to managing inventory, processing transactions or producing product orders; marketing, communications, research — it’s all increasingly done online.

Unfortunately for the amount of uptake there has been in digital tools across the business landscape, recent data indicates their utility may be lacking.

Statistics show that, on average, only 32.7 percent of Australian businesses across a range of industries including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, finance and health care use paid cloud computing, just 9.1 percent have approved investment in digital technology and 7.3 percent have a digital strategy.

In New Zealand, a recent report indicated “there is not too much technological change and adoption in New Zealand, there is too little”.

This data shows that acquiring and using digital tools in business is just the first step. It takes more work to drive operational efficiencies, chiefly by the streamlining and optimisation of those tools and the processes required to operate them.

Here are three priorities for businesses to look at in order to get the most out of their tech tools, and begin thriving in the digital economy.

1. Drive efficiency, drive growth

Technology can drive efficiency by streamlining or automating many of the tedious, repetitive tasks that take up staff time.

By looking for efficiencies in your tech use, your people can spend less time doing things like invoicing, billing, chasing up data and double checking numbers, freeing them up to spend more time on growth-centred work.

2. Connect and collaborate

Connected teams keep information flowing around your business, streamlining workflows and unplugging bottlenecks, so you want to make sure your technology is enabling this.

Not only should it be absolutely clear what channels of communication are used by your business and how, but there should be clear expectations on the timeliness of these communications.

3. More leads, more business

It seems like a no-brainer, but the more activity you generate in your sales pipeline, the more business you’ll secure. The question for businesses today is, how?

Depending on your sales and marketing strategy, you could be creating dozens of different types of customer interactions at any minute of the working day. So keeping a track of all of that data — and being able to derive useful, timely insights from them, becomes a real competitive factor, if not a sign of mastery in the digital economy.

With a well optimised customer relationship management (CRM) system, modern businesses can have all their customer data at their fingertips, making it easy to reach out to customers easily, answer questions quickly, tailor marketing communication to certain subsets and follow up on leads.

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