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What Challenges Do Modern Businesses Face and How Can Technology Help to Overcome Them?

  • Written by Business Daily Media

It is widely recognized that modern businesses today face a wide range of challenges that can pose a direct threat to their profitability and ongoing viability. It is estimated that around 20% of all new businesses will fail in their first year of trading. Often, this is down to a lack of understanding of the target market that they intend to serve and can result in the creation of goods and services that simply do not have sufficient demand. If a business makes it past the first few years of trading, it will be acutely aware that there are a wide range of other factors that can impact its continued growth and prosperity. Today's modern trading environment is characterized by increasing levels of uncertainty in the marketplace. Inflation is rising in many developed countries, which has led to increased operating and production costs. These costs may need to be passed onto the consumer, which, in turn, can result in reduced demand for various goods and services. In addition, business operates in an increasingly global marketplace, thanks to the rapid growth of the internet and eCommerce, which can mean that businesses in many different sectors are affected by international and political issues. Thankfully, technology has also progressed in the business world. There is now a wide range of business solutions that can be put into place with the effective use of technology. This can help businesses to face their ongoing challenges in the marketplace with increased confidence in their business practices. In this article, some of the key challenges that millions of businesses face will be discussed in detail, along with an explanation of how specific types of technology can be harnessed to overcome them.

The Ongoing Pandemic

In early 2020, the world began to realize that the first truly global pandemic since the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 was becoming a reality. Originating in Wuhan province, China, the virus spread in a matter of months to reach Europe and America and was eventually declared to be a global pandemic. Businesses were forced to rapidly incorporate technology, such as the use of remote access to their business applications and video conferencing, to allow business continuity to take place for remote working staff. Today, the pandemic is still present in the world, and it can be seen in increased levels of staff absence as infected workers experience symptoms of long covid. Another outcome of the ongoing pandemic is that there is a desire on the part of millions of employees to continue working remotely or at least have hybrid working weeks where they work from home for a few days. This can be challenging for businesses, as there is a greater risk of silo working and duplication of key tasks due to lower levels of communication. Video conferencing software and online access to systems can help with this issue, but another key way to limit any adverse effects from remote work is to use project management software. Applications, such as Slack and Trello, can be used to provide an online and up-to-date indication of project progress that employees can access in real-time. Trello especially is highly suited to project management and coordination as boards can be created that assign tasks to work groups that are then marked as complete once they have been finished.

Retaining Top Talent 

In 2023, it is widely understood that highly talented individuals can be the basis for strong teams and efficient organizations. However, some of the best employees leave organizations if they feel that they are not receiving suitable training that can allow their careers to develop. In addition, other companies may headhunt talented staff so that they can benefit from their skills and may offer improved remuneration packages to entice them to leave. No business wants to lose key staff members, as it will often involve a lengthy recruitment and induction process that will cost significant sums of money. One way to retain top staff is to make personal and career development a priority in the organization. Technology can be harnessed to achieve this by giving staff members access to online learning facilities, which can be tailored to the staff member’s specific interests and career goals. You can read more about a range of online training platforms that are suitable for offering talented staff development opportunities here. Put simply, an organization that offers its workforce bespoke personal training that allows them to develop a broader skill set will be able to retain a greater proportion of its most valued staff members.

Lengthy Design and Sharing Processes 

Many firms will need to create complex designs and schematics in their production processes. For example, in tech firms, there is a need to accurately map out the designs of printed circuit boards and their components that will be fitted in a wide range of consumer and business products. Without the use of sophisticated applications, there would be the need to design these plans by hand using advanced technical drawing skills. In addition, the sharing of designs would often necessitate lengthy business meetings with a range of key stakeholders needing to be present. In short, without technology to aid the design process, it can become extremely time-consuming and challenging. Thankfully, there is a range of software solutions that can aid businesses in their design of complex componentry and how they disseminate them. For example, printed circuit board design software is being increasingly utilized to enable the rapid creation of PCB schematics and layouts. This software is intuitive to use and can allow modifications to the circuit designs to take place without needing to redesign the whole plan again. In addition, once the final prototype circuit design is created, it can be shared quickly and easily online by using software that allows viewing and collaboration to take place. If there are multiple Gerber files (commonly used in PCB design) that need to be compared, companies can use dedicated software applications that allow them to compare Gerbers. Put simply, these software applications save time and reduce costs in the design process.

Building a Wider Customer Base 

Another challenge that many businesses face is the need to build and expand their customer base. This is one of the main ways to ensure business growth and, therefore, its continued viability, as increasing customer numbers can be translated into improved profit levels. However, this process takes time to achieve and can be an expensive process, especially if large-scale promotional activities are required. Thankfully, one way to build increased custom is to design a corporate website that allows seamless online purchases to take place. A well-designed website will often be the first point of contact for potential customers and they will expect to navigate a fast-loading site that gives thorough and insightful product descriptions that entice them to make a purchase. Businesses must, therefore, ensure that their website performs efficiently over a range of smart devices and offers technology that ensures the encryption of sensitive financial and customer information when online transactions take place. Ideally, the website will also obey best practices in search engine optimization (SEO) to allow it to benefit from improved search result positions in google and other search engines. A wide range of technology and expertise is needed here to achieve a high-performing website that is easy to navigate. It is one of the key ways to increase trade to your business in 2023 and should be made a priority for any business that does not have a company website.

Risk Management 

All businesses need to be acutely aware of the risks and challenges that are posed to them in their daily operations. There are likely to be a range of short and long-term risks that can directly impact business performance and the business continuity of any organization. It is of paramount importance that a company is aware of these risks and can document, store, and risk assess them. One way businesses seek to understand their ongoing risks and challenges is to create an online risk register. This can be achieved by purchasing dedicated risk register applications, as can be seen here. These types of applications will act as a central online hub for all risks that are facing an organization and their impact upon the firm can be assessed and analysed before remedial measures can be proposed that will minimize their risks or eradicate them. A company that has a highly developed risk management culture and uses the latest technology to monitor and record risks is well prepared for the future. By understanding risks, a company can make more informed business decisions and achieve a greater degree of certainty in its plans or business strategies.

Cybersecurity

One of the biggest risks to all organizations in 2023 is the threat of cybercrime. It is estimated that approximately 100,000 cyber attacks take place every day and these can target businesses in every form of industry, regardless of their size or location. Cybercriminals use a variety of methods to gain access to business IT systems, including the release of ransomware that can damage critical IT systems and requires the business to pay the cybercriminal to stop the attack. Other forms of cybercrime include the sending of malicious emails, which contain links or attachments containing different forms of malware, such as trojans, worms, and viruses. Companies can lose hundreds of thousands of pounds if they are subject to a successful cyber attack, and it can be incredibly difficult to bring the perpetrators to justice to compensate the firm. Thankfully, there are a wide variety of tech solutions that businesses can incorporate into their ID systems to protect against this threat. Firstly, it is vitally important that companies install the latest antivirus software across all their IT applications. This can be used to identify cyber threats and to isolate infected files or programs, so they do not cause widespread damage. Using password management systems can also be a key way to improve online security. These systems create and securely store complex and strong passwords for staff members and take away the risk of employees creating memorable but weak passwords that can easily be compromised.

Health and Safety 

Businesses need to recognize that they can be easily exposed to litigation and compensation claims if they do not adequately protect their workforce from hazards and risks in the workplace. Every year, around 4.9 million worker compensation claims are filed against businesses and the pay-outs typically reach tens of thousands of dollars per claim. Businesses need to protect their workforce from preventable harm in the workplace to benefit from a motivated set of employees and minimal claims against the organization. One way this can be achieved is to create a health and safety culture in the workplace that includes a comprehensive incident reporting software suite. This type of business application allows companies to generate reports and statistics relating to accidents and near misses whilst gaining a broader understanding of the risks present in the workplace. Remedial action can then be taken to reduce or eradicate risks and unsafe working practices. 

Future Decision Making

A final challenge to modern business is the need to make intelligent decisions that shape the future direction of the company. This can be difficult to achieve regularly as external and geopolitical factors can increasingly impact a business and can be difficult to predict. In recent years, there has been increasing use of big data and advanced analytics platforms, such as Microsoft Power Bi, to allow future business decisions to be made. These types of applications take complex data in high volumes from a variety of data sources. The data is then combined, and the software enables analytical functions to be performed on it to generate meaningful insights. When high-volume, high-quality data is used to drive decision making, it can result in plans and strategies that are evidence-based and offer the best course of action to be taken. Today, advanced analytics and the power of big data are being increasingly used across industries and business sectors to allow intelligent decisions to be made that reduce business uncertainty.

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