In challenging times, you might be wondering how to maintain your operations in the wake of disruption to your supply chain and workforce.
Novel problems require novel solutions, so we’ve rounded up five technologies that could help you unlock hidden productivity and achieve maximum efficiency.
1. Collaboration software
There’s a collaboration solution for almost every use case, including communication (Slack, Microsoft Teams, Threads), meetings (Zoom, WebEx Teams), project management (Trello, Asana, ITM Platform), development (Jira, Hubstaff Tasks), and more.
Worth considering if… You want to empower remote workers in your organisation with the tools they need to stay in touch, work in teams, and hit important goals.
2. Cloud services
Cloud services give you access to IT infrastructure via the internet, with the operating software, middleware and applications hosted in a remote data centre. This can make it easier, cheaper and faster to run state-of-the-art IT systems, no matter what size your business is.
Depending on your objectives, you have three cloud service types to choose from (or a mix).
SaaS – Software as a Service
These cloud-based web apps are managed by a vendor, making them ideal if you need off-the-shelf applications for end-users. There are endless SaaS options, so you need to choose the right one(s) for your use case. For example, if constantly passing documents back and forth via email wastes time, cloud-based office and file management tools like Office 365, G Suite and Dropbox could help. They allow multiple users to view and collaboratively edit the same files from any location, at any time.
Pros: Scalable and easy to add more users; clear pricing structure; vendor handles all hardware and updates.
Cons: Lacks control and customisability versus in-house apps; possibly slower than self-managed servers; data security concerns.
Worth considering if... You want a low-cost software solution to improve communication, billing and invoicing, CRM, project management, email marketing, or more, without the burden of managing hardware.
PaaS – Platform as a Service
Cloud platform services provide a framework for your developers to build and test customised apps, e.g., APIs, business analytics, databases, master data management. The servers, storage, and networking are managed by a third-party provider, while you maintain the apps that run on the platform. Examples include Google App Engine, Windows Azure, and AWS Elastic Beanstalk.
Pros: Cost-effective development and deployment of apps; no need to maintain the platform’s software; scalable; rapid time-to-market; ability to develop for multiple platforms.
Cons: Subject to the vendor’s speed, functionality, and updates; risk of being locked into a specific language, program, or interface.
Worth considering if... You want to develop customised software while keeping costs down, with the ability to streamline multiple workflows.
IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service
IaaS is like a virtual data centre. The vendor handles servers, storage, and networking resources, while you take care of hosted applications, development and management tools, and the operating system. Examples include AWS EC2 and Google Compute Engine.
Pros: The most flexible cloud model; hardware purchases are based on consumption; you retain full control of infrastructure.
Cons: Full responsibility for upgrades of the infrastructure; not suitable when data must be kept on-premises; reliant on the connection speed to IaaS provider.
Worth considering if… You want full control over apps and infrastructure, want pay-as-you-use, and can handle maintenance and upgrades. IaaS’s scalability is particularly well-suited to companies experiencing rapid growth.
3. Next-level data governance
A company’s data tends to scale up as its operations grow, but the techniques used to organise it often lag behind.
Metadata management involves maintaining an organised cataloguing system to record the information in your business and technical data. Users can therefore access it more quickly, understand what it means, use it to improve operational effectiveness, aid long-term planning, and comply with legal discovery and regulations.
Metadata management software solutions include Microsoft Azure Data Catalog, Oracle Enterprise Metadata Management, and Metadata Management by Informatica.
Worth considering if… You have masses of unharmonised data and sense a lack of knowledge and understanding of the data that exists within the organisation.
Master data management (MDM)
Master data describes the things around which your business is conducted, including customers, products, suppliers, and locations. The goal is to unify this data from IT systems across the business to improve data quality and streamline data sharing.
MDM software solutions include Oracle MDM, IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management, and Informatica Master Data Management Cloud.
Worth considering if… You need to consolidate customer records and other data from multiple sources to give a complete, error-free picture.
4. Prescriptive analytics
This field of data science uses analytical engines to produce recommendations that help you improve operations by reducing inefficiencies, manage resources more effectively (including capital, personnel, and equipment), and mitigate the operational risks of various decision paths.
Prescriptive analytics solutions include IBM Decision Optimization, Rapid Insight, and River Logic.
Worth considering if… You already harness the power of descriptive and predictive analytics and want the ability to tweak variables to predict the best course of action.
5. Automation software
Automation software forms a significant part of the digital transformation process. This means undertaking a systematic review of your business to reveal manual processes that can be replaced with smart digital alternatives.
Automation software vendors include KiSSFLOW (to automate your workflow process), Oracle Process Cloud (to drive business agility through cloud-based process automation), and Automation Anywhere (robotic process automation technology for automating complex IT and business processes).
Worth considering if… You have the required bandwidth and budget, are confident of user buy-in, and can establish automation roles within your IT department.
If you’d like guidance on managing your business finances in these challenging times, please don’t hesitate to speak to us or reach out to your HSBC Relationship Manager.