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Matt Hunt, CEO of Apadmi Enterprise discusses how businesses can take advantage of “digital transformation” to reduce overheads, increase efficiency and improve employee productivity and morale.

For any CEO looking to build a successful company, removing inefficiencies and ensuring a business runs as smoothly as possible is essential. From small start-ups to multinational corporations, wasteful and time-consuming processes can hinder growth and distract from the ultimate objective: profit.

Improving efficiency through digital transformation

Managing business processes and analysing the right data inside an organisation can be one of the biggest stresses for any entrepreneur, especially when dealing with endless reams of documents. Being buried under mounds of paperwork or searching for mislaid forms can be costly from a cash standpoint for businesses, but can also lead to lost hours and missed opportunities.

With the rise of digital transformation, technology is now making this process much simpler. For instance, data capture solutions are enabling multiple employees to record information from different devices to a central server, which can be instantly accessed, updated and communicated across departments.

For smaller companies with limited financial resources, this technology makes data recording much cheaper and allows business development to take precedence, increasing the potential for growth.

For larger companies, with multiple layers of management and a requirement for greater visibility and collaboration across departments, digital data capture can make for greater communication, streamline processes and help reduce the potential for human error.

A project we undertook recently with NHS Blood and Transplant demonstrated how complex organisations can remove layers of manual paper-based processes and free-up Specialist Nurses so they can spend more time with patients. We created a mobile solution that could be used by nurses to collect important patient information through an iPad tablet application, helping to remove duplication of data input, improve visibility of data across teams within the NHS, and reduce the amount of paper waste (and all associated paper, ink, printer and storage costs) across the organisation. Data accuracy and security was also improved through data validation and encryption.

Adopting automation to reduce administration

As essential as administration tasks are for a business, they can often be time-consuming and take attention away from more value-adding tasks that would either bring in revenue, or reduce business operating costs.

With improvements in automated processes, these tasks are increasingly being removed from workers’ daily lives, freeing them up to focus on more skilled jobs and customer service.

Artificial intelligence is one area of automation tech that is boosting efficiency, particularly when used as a virtual assistant. Rather than requiring staff to search for documents, or review calendars to book meetings, new assistants – such as Julie Desk – are able to carry out these processes automatically.

By reducing the amount of time employees have to spend completing these administration tasks, businesses can put their resources where they are most needed – in development and growth.

Levelling the playing field for smaller businesses

When it comes to competing in crowded markets, one disadvantage SMEs often have over larger rivals is a lack of resources. For businesses that experience peaks and troughs in demand at specific times throughout the year, they can be handicapped by the need to increase capacity temporarily, but don’t want to be straddled with long-term costs.

Scalable business solutions – primarily cloud based – are now making it easier for smaller businesses to compete, while also removing the pressure of sustaining a financial hit during quieter periods.

SoVision, for example, is a solution that enables businesses to instantly scale up any aspect of their business, from broadband and IT capabilities to communication, and then scale back down during quieter periods, or at the end of a set project.

By allowing smaller businesses to grow their capability temporarily without the concern of increased long-term costs, these companies are able to compete with larger businesses and gain a better foothold in the market place.

Using digital to improve investor confidence

For CEO’s planning their business’ next stage of growth, or preparing for a new funding round, it is essential they can demonstrate their company is running as smoothly as possible.

SMEs entering a seed or early series round, for instance, will find it much easier to attract investors if they can demonstrate high growth potential in the business - part of which is demonstrating they can remove waste from company processes.

For larger businesses entering later stages of funding, showing they can handle multiple processes efficiently, and continually boost the bottom line, will make them look more attractive to investors.

Digital must serve a purpose

While there are clear advantages to adopting digital technology in a business, it is essential to remember that it will only deliver benefits if it is implemented correctly, and serves a purpose. As beneficial as these platforms and solutions are, if they are brought in just for the sake of it, businesses risk wasting money on technology that doesn’t sync with its needs.

Any business undergoing digital transformation also needs to ensure it is a company-wide adoption. If people in the business don’t know how new processes work, or are not given training to get to grips with new structures, the digital technology will not be used to its full potential – and could become a financial burden.

Technology will only become more prominent in the future. For companies willing to embrace this revolution, and are able to take full advantage of it, they will have the opportunity to shape their industry. Those businesses that stand by and watch risk being left behind.

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Matt Hunt, is the CEO of Apadmi Enterprise.

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