This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com - #Growing Your Business
Both offline and online companies can grow and gain competitive advantages in the market.
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As businesses grow, there are important considerations to be made around costs and how to grow the company. At the corporate level, the software industry has consistently grown over the past two decades. In fact, the enterprise-software industry is expected to grow to $457 billion by 2020. Common applications of enterprise software include accounting, cloud services, business intelligence, human resources and CRM solutions.
When deciding what kind of software to implement, it is helpful to work backwards and identify what problems or challenges you currently face. Once these are identified, you can find software solutions that help solve specific problems. This process is part of a business-growth roadmap and is critical to scaling.
It is important to note that too much reliance on software or choosing the wrong enterprise software can be problematic. These risks can be mitigated by researching the specs of a particular software to make sure it offers the customization and flexibility to work well within your business. Below are five ways software implementation commonly helps businesses, regardless of the industry or core services being provided.
1. Prioritize safety and security
Safety and security are two necessities that any and all companies need, especially when having or working in a digital setting. From password managers and VPNs to DDoS and malware protection, software can help eliminate many risks from your business operation.
For example, companies can have everything backed up with a secure cloud-storage provider, eliminating the risks around physical documents. Additionally, many Software as a Service (SaaS) security products are affordable enough to be used by startups and lean companies. There is no reason not to have basic security measures in place nowadays with the available software on the market.
2. Produce new revenue streams
While integrating software may not be an automatic money maker, in theory, good software should help free up valuable time and resources for you to focus on your core competencies. In some cases, software can help a business create a completely new revenue stream or save cash by helping you lower taxable income.
For example, an offline business looking to start social media growth can find software that will schedule posts, create content and optimize them for various channels. This eliminates most of the human learning curve that would traditionally be needed. It is important to note that a human element often adds an additional safeguard and a spark of creativity in conjunction with running specific software.
3. Eliminate Inefficiencies
Every organization faces operational inefficiencies, which can be disastrous the bottom line. It is estimated that 70 percent of wasted efficiency is spent fixing the same problem that has already happened before. Chances are whatever problem your business or customer is facing, there is a software that can at least solve a large portion of that problem.
For example, BabelBark created a software called BizBark that connects pet owners with businesses in their local area. The company has found success by digitizing everything for pet owners, eliminating most inefficiencies seen in the past.
4. Embrace automation
Riding off of the last example, there are a ton of options for executives looking to automate tasks within an organization. SaaS products are built off of simplicity and allow organizations to get the benefits of software, without needing to install anything. You can simply select a plan, pay monthly and work around a hosted software platform to get the results you need. This has helped SaaS products to be some of the most popular solutions for companies of all sizes and grown it into a $600 billion industry.
As Julius Cerniauskas, CEO of Oxylabs, explains, “Automation holds immense value for any business big and small alike. We incorporate ease of use into our value proposition of providing real-time web intelligence on demand, helping automate what was once a painful process.”
5. Create competitive advantages
Many businesses seek an edge over the competition. Generally, they find that advantage in industry tools, methodology or internal processes. Implementing software that expedites a process or aspect of their operations can make a significant difference in the level of competitiveness.
Vendors such as Mindbreeze provide just that by drastically reducing the time and effort spent on data management and internal search. Daniel Fallmann, CEO of Mindbreeze testifies that, “Navigating internal databases is a vital aspect of almost every operation in a sizeable enterprise. Every department relies heavily on actionable data, more often than not for a time-critical purpose. Our ability to make this easy for companies is our competitive advantage.”
Whatever business you are in, taking time to analyze software options is a strategic move that can help generate increased efficiencies for your company. Even with the upfront costs of certain software and SaaS solutions, the long-term benefits can include an increased bottom line and potential for growth. The key is identifying your needs and finding the right software that helps provide related solutions.