Regardless of the type of business you’re running, the industry that you’re operating in or even the products or services that you offer, to say that IT is important is something of an understatement. In many ways, IT is the key to everything. It’s how your employees communicate with and collaborate with one another. It’s how you develop (and maintain) meaningful, long-lasting relationships with your audience. It’s how you deliver your goods and services to that audience, thus holding up your end of the promise you made when you began those relationships in the first place.
Or at least, it should be.
Because in reality, IT is just a tool — the same as anything else. Only by making an effort to guarantee that you have access to the right tool for the right job will you be able to accomplish all of the essential goals that you have in front of you. This is absolutely true when it comes to the technological foundation of your business.
There’s a reason why worldwide IT spending hit $2.69 trillion in 2015 according to Gartner. Businesses are quickly learning that technology is and has always been an organic part of your business. In the modern era, it is as essential as the employees you hire, the physical building that you’re leasing, or all of that production equipment that you’ve invested so heavily in.
Make no mistake: your IT infrastructure is literally the backbone of your business’s success in a wide range of different ways that are more than worth exploring.
Regardless of the type of business you’re running or even the industry you’re operating in, so much of your organisation’s success ultimately comes down to knowing as much about your target audience as possible. Every decision you make must be one built with the customer experience firmly in mind.
This leads directly into perhaps the biggest reason why your IT infrastructure is ultimately the backbone of your business’ success — the incredible level of insight that you can unlock into who that audience is and, more importantly, why they behave the way they do that you’re not going to be able to replicate anywhere else.
Think about it from the perspective of another area of business that both A) lives and dies based on the quality of the user experience, and B) relies heavily on real-time data collection — web development.
For many, a website is the cornerstone of most experiences with a particular brand in the modern era. This means that the stakes for improving the user experience could not be higher. To that end, consider the following statistics:
- According to one recent study, mobile users are five times more likely to abandon a particular task if the site that they’re using isn’t optimised for a mobile device like a smartphone.
- 52% of users who responded to a survey even said that if they have a bad mobile experience with a website, they’re less likely to engage with that company to begin with.
- 79% of people who responded to a survey said that if a particular site that they’re not using is not optimised, they will absolutely look for another site to complete that task - which is problematic if that "task" is "buying your product or service."
- Maybe the most damning statistic of all has to do with the fact that if 100 online consumers have a bad experience with a website, 88 of them are never coming back - ever.
Because of statistics like these, real-time data collection and large-scale analytics have become essential in terms of modern web development. Businesses can now see not only how many people are coming to a site, but where they’re coming from. They can see what pages they’re visiting and how they’re interacting with them. Not only do they know when there is a problem, they can see what caused that problem and why it caused someone to leave. It also comes with actionable information on how to fix it — real-time.
Many don’t realise that with the right IT infrastructure, these simple principles can be applied to nearly EVERY aspect of a business — all of which ultimately contributes to higher satisfaction and better performance by way of the best customer experience possible.
The Power of Actionable Visibility
Take real-time data collection, for example. There’s a reason why one study estimates that the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will add $14.2 trillion to the global economy by the end of 2030 — the organisational insights provided by these technologies are that powerful.
If every piece of equipment in an industrial environment is connected to the Internet of Things, you have a reliable network of information to draw from at any given time. You can see where specific resources are and how they’re being used, giving you the opportunity to make better and more informed decisions about how to best realign these resources to accomplish your business objectives.
Sensors can be used to identify opportunities for proactive maintenance to fix small problems before they become big ones, thus preventing equipment from needing prolonged (and expensive) periods of maintenance. This in turn allows you to see more clearly how goods move through supply chains — putting businesses in a better position to properly adjust inventory levels for maximum efficiency.
This doesn’t just let you get products into the hands of customers faster and more efficiently than ever before — it also lets you save an incredible amount of money while you do it, thus increasing profitability across the board.
Automation Through Artificial Intelligence
But the right IT strategy won’t just allow you to better prepare yourself for the challenges of tomorrow — it will also allow you and your employees to make better use of the time you have available today. Many organisations are turning to artificial intelligence, machine learning, and similar techniques to help automate and optimise their processes to unlock opportunities for financial savings and performance improvements across the board.
Take the insurance industry, for example. According to one case study, provider AIG has recently turned to artificial intelligence models to help streamline and improve the more than $100 million worth of claims that it is responsible for processing per day. When a technology glitch is encountered during the claims process, productivity grinds to a stop — which means that the same can be said for revenue, too.
Even a modest glitch during this process used to take an engineer an average of three and a half hours to fix. Thanks to AIG’s IT infrastructure and five machine learning algorithms, however, that number is now reduced to ten minutes — WITHOUT human intervention. Since 2016, they’ve proactively solved more than 145,000 incidents and have freed up more than 23,000 man hours as a result. Not only has this led to more efficient processing, it has also allowed those employees to focus their attention on more important tasks to help drive the business forward.
At that point, you don’t have to focus as much on maintaining the status quo because the status quo becomes something that will essentially maintain itself.
Security Is No Longer the Enemy of Productivity
But one of the most essential reasons why your IT infrastructure is ultimately the backbone of your business success boils down to one simple-yet-critical concept — security.
According to a study conducted by IBM Security, the average cost of a data breach hit $4 million per incident in 2016 — an increase of 29% since 2013. That number breaks down to roughly $158 for every lost or stolen document. These are just the immediate costs associated with such an event. Keep in mind that security incidents often lead to downtime as well, which itself costs an average of $300,000 per hour until things are back online according to Gartner analysts.
This in turn has led to something of a constant battle in recent years, as organisations attempt to both give their employees access to the digital assets they need to more effectively do their jobs and balance security concerns at the exact same time. This ultimately highlights one important point — It shouldn’t be just any IT infrastructure, it has to be THE RIGHT IT infrastructure for it to become the backbone of your success. This allows you to address both of these concerns at the exact same time.
In the modern era, security should no longer be an afterthought — a problem that acts as a constant source of dread, or worse, something to be "kicked down the road" as far as possible.
Partnering with an organisation like a managed IT service provider can help companies create more value on behalf of their own employees by adding security into the process from the very beginning.
Businesses can and should be making decisions based on how to balance the security they need with the ease-of-use that their employees deserve. This is another example of how an infrastructure designed and managed by a third party vendor makes sense for a lot of businesses.
Instead of maintaining everything in-house (and devoting huge amounts of time, energy and financial resources to reactively addressing security concerns), legitimate experts in the field of cybersecurity can handle it all on your behalf in exchange for a predictable monthly fee that also covers every other resource you need. You can deploy videoconferencing equipment, or give your employees more options with regards to which personal devices they can use, and rest easy knowing that you’ve got a proactive security infrastructure at the exact same time.
According to one recent study, satisfied employees who feel like they have leadership support and all of the tools necessary to do their jobs effectively tend to be as much as 12% more productive than those who do not.
In the End
At the end of the day, it’s important to understand that IT is a tool.
A hammer on its own is essentially worthless if the task you have in front of you does not need it.
Investing in technology just for the sake of it has never accomplished anything for anyone. Only by beginning with the short and long-term objectives that you’re trying to accomplish and then working your way backwards to the IT resources you need to meet those goals will you be in the best possible position to unlock everything that a modern day IT infrastructure is poised to offer.
If you have any additional questions about why your IT infrastructure is the backbone of your business’ success, or if you’d just like to sit down and talk to someone about your own situation in a little more detail, please don’t delay — contact Powernet today.