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Technology in Business
The essence of developing technology is to solve a problem or to capitalize on an opportunity. Businesses employ technology to expand their capacities to serve their clients. The vision of every entrepreneur is to recognize the wants of consumers and to come up with ways to satisfy them. Technology offers an avenue for accomplishing some of these goals. Therefore, business managers must understand the importance of technology in business and plan appropriately on how to maximize its potential and optimize the return on investment. Technology is dynamic, and with the continuous innovations in the corporate world, businesses are resorting to various forms of technological advancements to scale out their operations.
Primarily, technology simplifies the efforts of businesses, both small and big, to accomplish particular tasks. Every establishment has its unique needs for technology, and as such, the application of the same varies with businesses. Nevertheless, companies generally use technology to reduce operational costs, to enhance efficiency, to improve customer service and experience, to increase production, and to improve human resource management. For businesses to fully harness the benefits of technology, they have to manage this technology appropriately. This paper examines the technology used in business, and the specific types used to support general business functions. Further, it discusses the challenges with managing existing technology and the impact of the same on the sales, marketing, finances, and production, human resource, and other functions within the business.
Types of Technology Used to Support General Business Functions
Depending on the nature of a business, different types of technology can be applied to support its day-to-day functions. However, information technology (IT) is common to all enterprises regardless the industry within which they operate. IT encompasses the management of information systems including networks, software, hardware, and computers, that are used to support and automate business tasks (Nikoloski, 2014). Technological advances have significantly increased the competitiveness of the business world as companies have manipulated them to transition from operating locally to globally.
Based on the nature of the business it engages in, every enterprise has its unique hardware requirements and specifications. However, the most common hardware utilized by enterprises is the computer which comes with software that helps the business manage its daily tasks. With the current trends in globalization, computers are essential for any company that intends to keep up with the fast-moving corporate world. Businesses have also embraced the use of contemporary communication hardware including internet modems, fax machines, and telephones. Today, many enterprises provide mobile devices to their employees including smartphones, PDAs, tablets, and laptops to enable them to stay constantly updated and connected to the central office from their remote locations. These devices have a plethora of applications including locators that employ GPS functions and productivity tools, as well as organizational applications that facilitate access and sharing of relevant business information.
Businesses employ software in handling their day-to-day operations. Such software is developed based on the needs of a firm. Despite these variations, common features about business software are that they find use in communication, accounting, and budgeting. Due to their speed and efficiency, business software has been found to be cost-effective. With this technology in place, more advanced tasks including translation for firms going global, managing and monitoring of web services, and website design can be executed. Today, most firms have a centralize information unit created through the use of database software. Accordingly, such data is readily available to employees, and the decision-making process is enhanced. Today, businesses have also developed inventory control systems to keep track of the items in their inventories and to ensure that the stores are adequately stocked at all times. Another common software in use is the one that operates the customer relationship management systems. Through this technology, enterprises can monitor the experiences of customers and their interactions with the company. These systems confer healthy customer relations as they gather relevant information for review, use, and proactive response.
The technical team of a company can establish a network that facilitates data transfer across various departments hence improving the flow of information within the organization. These networks also find use in data storage and communication. Besides, they facilitate the sharing of resources such as printers thereby saving on operational costs. Apart from internal network systems, external networking is also essential to businesses. Presently, many companies use the Internet, which has significantly revolutionized the business environment. According to Berisha-Shaqiri (2015), the Internet is a technological advancement, whose benefits cut across interaction to communication; nevertheless, its potential has not been fully harnessed and explored. The Internet, through various platforms, has allowed firms to reach broader audiences and attract customers and employees alike from all over. This is because, regarding users, the implications of the Internet are increasing exponentially. Of the seven billion people in the world, more than two billion use the Internet (Apăvăloaie, 2014). It has become an integral part of everyday life and has facilitated the emergence and growth of electronic business which has developed into a fully-fledged business discipline (Berisha-Shaqiri, 2015). Hajli (2013) suggests that the recent advancements in the Internet have made new systems including social media and online communities available for businesses.
Impact of Technology on Business
Increasing production is one of the primary uses of technology in business. However, the significance of research and development before production cannot be ignored. The use of technology affords faster and more extensive research on multiple factors that would give the company an edge over other competitors in the market in a highly competitive business environment. Through research, entrepreneurs get to understand the kind of service or product that would sell best to their target clients. The process of production can be divided into three stages: planning, the actual production, and maintenance of quality. Technology finds use in all these stages. For instance, computer-aided design can be applied in the planning phase and computer-integrated manufacturing systems or computer-aided manufacturing in the production stage to simplify the process and to reduce labor costs. Technology minimizes the use of human labor and as such confers speed and efficiency. These two factors are of cardinal importance to businesses involved in manufacturing.
Companies spend heavily on marketing, which mostly uses technology to promote services or products. Internet technology, for instance, enables many firms to access the vast consumer base online. Online marketing has been found to be affordable and very impactful if appropriately executed. With the influx in the number of social media users, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram enable businesses to reach their targeted consumers better and allow the entities to scale their advertisements based on the consumers’ interests. Social media and the use of suitable social influencers are contemporary marketing trends that have been proven to be effective especially in the creation of brand awareness. In addition to the Internet, other forms of mass media technology including televisions and radios have for a long time been used by companies to reach their target audiences effectively.
The use of Big Data analytics tools helps businesses in the management of prospecting, which is a critical stage in the sales process. The application of customer data models and analytics enables firms to identify potential clients more accurately giving them a more precise target to focus on. The explosion of social media technology has further allowed businesses to shape and refine their sales strategies to optimize future success. The Sales Force Automation technology has also significantly revolutionized business operations. Through the solutions it offers, SFA automates several tasks and thus frees up sales personnel to focus more on the activities that yield higher sales (Le Meunier-FitzHugh & Douglas, 2016). The system enables sales managers to update their teams on the emerging trends. It also provides instant access to relevant sales data and, therefore, aids decision-making. The Cloud-based Customer Relationship Management technology also presents immense advantages to the sales personnel. CRM systems give accurate and fast insights on customer preferences (Le Meunier-FitzHugh & Douglas, 2016). When combined with CRM systems, mobile technology enables sales personnel to access product specifications instantly to increase the efficiency of their sales pitches. Resultantly, they record better customer experiences and high closing rates.
Technology is also used in the management of the finances and payment processes for businesses. Currently, many enterprises use Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale (EFTPOS) and Electronic Point of Sale Systems (EPOS) to simplify transaction processes. These payment systems are secure and reduce the incidences of fraud. Other establishments have embraced the use of online payment systems to accept compensations for their products or services. Appropriately, the integration of these technological trends into the operations of business serves to improve the customer experience as offering various payment system options ensures that no client is locked out because of limited payment options. Technology has additionally enhanced inventory management, and accounting as specific software can be used to execute these tasks. Resultantly, businesses save money and time, that would have otherwise been spent had human labor been used.
Human Resources Management
Technology has aided the recruitment process following the development of e-recruitment. In addition to these platforms, recruitment has been enhanced by social media and today; several interviews are conducted on online sites such as Skype. Following recruitment, technology assists HR managers to train and bring the new personnel up to speed with the operations of the business. Technology facilitates access to relevant information through decentralized databases to enable the recruits to understand every scope of their position. Performance management has also been transformed with the introduction of tools such as computerized performance monitoring (CPM). Accordingly, transparency is improved, and productivity is enhanced. The concept of virtual workforce has also changed the HR utility of businesses. Through the internet, firms can now recruit individuals to work from home while payments are remitted per task completed. This system enables companies to hire many employees across the globe and saves both time and money.
Technology has significantly simplified communication within and outside businesses due to the use of social networks, e-mails, cell phones, and video conferencing tools. These new means of communication have enhanced the effectiveness of customer care departments resulting in the improved confidence of customers in the business. Additionally, communication technology affords the efficient flow of information in an organization, and thus, decision-making processes are faster.
Challenges in Managing Existing Technology
Business managers report significant problems in managing existing technology. The business environment is increasingly becoming competitive, and as a result, companies are going to all extremes to safeguard their spots in the market. Appropriately, there is a need for continuous technological innovation for an enterprise to maintain its competitive advantage. To this effect, firms have to conduct broad research on the potential benefits of innovations. However, the challenge arises from the dynamism of technology and the fast rate at which technology becomes obsolete. Also, existing technology in a business calls for periodic maintenance which translates to other overheads. Such upgrades and maintenances are often quite costly and thus create a conflict with the managers as the goal of business is to incur minimal operational costs.
The management of technological systems requires a proper comprehension of how the technology is applied to operational processes to achieve interior effectiveness failure to which, the company risks to underutilize an innovation. An interview conducted among information technology managers of companies revealed that they had notable challenges in shrinking their budgets, enhancing the security of their systems and managing their data while at the same time regulating it appropriately (Smith, Koohang, & Behling, 2015). Following the growing trends in cybercrime, vital company information is at a high risk of being leaked to malicious competitors, and as a result, managers face the challenge of having to secure their data stores.
Imperatively, the computerization of many business operations reduces the strength of the relationship between the business and customer emotions and managers have to deal with altered patronages as a result (Shank, 2013). Business managers also have to deal with the impact of existing technology to their human resource. Managers have to always be on the lookout for the attitudes of workers towards the use of particular technology as the former has been known to affect the effective use of the latter significantly. Accordingly, regular training has to be arranged for the workers to ensure that they remain positive and also to update them on any adjustments. Such processes could end up consuming valuable time.The constant use of technology has often lead to overdependence of the workers on the systems. Accordingly, human labor becomes less productive and the output of a business risks being reduced. Managers thus have to come up with a mechanism to ensure that technology and human resource are efficiently combined such that the efficiency of neither is compromised.
Various types of technology find use in the business world. As such, firms adopt the use of the technological innovation that best suits their activities and that which promises to be of benefit to them. Nevertheless, the most commonly used type of technology is IT as it is essential to all industries. The integration of technology into the day-to-day operations of businesses has been shown to impact several aspects of a business including but not limited to production, sales, marketing, and human resource management. Despite the immense benefits that technological advances confer to companies, managers various challenges in managing the existing technology in an attempt to keep their businesses afloat. Appropriately, adequate investigations should be conducted before a business decides to settle for any form of technology.
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