David Saul, managing director of leading serviced office operator Business Environment looks at the latest business technology trends
It’s been an interesting year so far for technology, with new gadgets appearing at a rapid pace. New technology can be a friend to some businesses, but a foe to others who are struggling to understand new innovations and keep up with them. The winners however will be the companies who embrace new technology and implement it throughout their business in an intelligent way to help improve bottom line.
Something that has been of increasing importance over the last 12 months is the need for data security. The Wikileaks fallout really proved to big companies worldwide that they are not immune to threats from hackers, and so there’s been a rise in uptake of data leakage prevention (DLP) technologies.
The real game-changer for us at Business Environment is Cloud technology. It allows businesses to share resources, software and information over a network increasing capacity or adding capabilities. That enables companies to use resource more effectively and helps to save money.
At Business Environment we’re incorporating current security concerns into the use of our Cloud technology. We are about to launch a free data storage facility, which is a way to safeguard your business with all backed up files stored in the Cloud. Not only is it secure, but it is a great way of ensuring businesses have a clear disaster recovery plan in place should the worst happen and servers go down.
We are also installing an additional internet pipe to every one of our 18 centres across the UK, an investment of £500k to support our clients and keep their businesses working. So should our main internet connection go down we can switch to this to minimise down time. This is not widely available at present in the serviced office sector so we believe it will really help make a difference to companies, with internet the lifeblood or oxygen of any business.
What is clear in the UK is that office hours are almost extinct. We commissioned some research earlier this year about working habits and it found that one in five employees (20%) now work remotely once a week, and that more and more of us still check emails and take calls after hours. Technology is evolving in line with this, with tablet computers a regular sight on public transport and outside of the traditional working environment. The technology within them is also becoming more complicated with near field communication (NFC) based chips. It allows for simplified transactions, data exchange and wireless connections between two devices in close proximity to each other, and allows consumers to purchase products quicker and easier.
What we’re also finding at Business Environment is that companies are looking more and more to social media platforms to get their message out there. We use Twitter as a company to help promote our services, for example new packages or initiatives to help current and potential clients take advantage of our latest offers. Creating followers matter and the focus now is on using followers to really help improve our bottom line. There’s a trend of moving away from ‘traditional’ business methods – where we push out information to customers – and replacing it with ‘digital’ methods to improve our interaction and engagement with consumers.
Despite all the new technology advancements, it’s important that businesses do not get too far ahead of their customers. For example, Quick Response (QR) codes – barcodes designed to be read by smartphones – are becoming increasingly popular in advertising and marketing, yet only 11% of people use them and 36% know what they are for (source: Marketing Week 2nd September 2011). Above all, what’s important is that when considering implementing new technology into business strategies, companies take those that best work for their audience and demographics. In doing so, they can make a great difference to profits.