When the going gets tough ... the tough use IT!
Tough economic times make us refocus our efforts and better allocate our scarce resources. When considering what to do to increase revenue and reduce costs, don't forget to consider your IT investment. IT solutions provide an easy, quick deployment of your most creative ideas for customer attraction and retention. And if you want to increase efficiency, IT is essential.
Not too long ago, IT was itself a competitive advantage. Companies that used IT systems for business processes had an advantage over competitors that used manual methods. Today the playing field is leveled, IT is essential to business efficiency and growth. From email to accounting to websites to desktop publishing, IT moves our businesses.
We'd like to offer some ideas on how to use your IT systems. If you have something you're doing that you'd like to share, send it to us and we'll include in the next issue.
|Use IT to increase revenue|
Whether you're looking for some quick campaigns to send to existing customers or implementing a business intelligence system, your IT system can provide you with real results.
- Quick emails campaigns - Keep in touch and make a special offer using an online email tool. We use Constant Contact for this newsletter which offers a free trial or you can use a number of tools including Microsoft Outlook to launch your campaign. Make the format short and sweet or long and flowing depending upon the needs of your customers. Use emails to show potential customers your value and interest. Always be sure that you follow anti-SPAM rules.
- Printed campaigns - Although email is a less expensive way to contact customers, it may not meet your goals. When you decide to send a printed campaign, be sure to use tried and true strategies but don't skimp on your creativity. Design your own campaign using the desktop publishing built into your IT system. Your choice of fonts, colors and graphics are limitless. The USPS has great tips on direct mail at: www.usps.com/directmail/welcome.htm or try HP Marketing Impressions for lots of free advice and templates for your own campaign.
- Capture customer data - Whether you use an enterprise CRM or a home-made spreadsheet or anything in between, use the date to determine customer needs, buying patterns and trends. Try to consolidate data and eliminate duplication by using the tools bundled in software packages. Often you can use an accounting or contact management package as a foundation for your data and export into a spreadsheet for campaigns or updates.
- Keep track of sales efforts - Again whether you have an enterprise or your own custom system, use your IT tools to track your sales efforts. Be sure that you have a strategy for follow-up and meeting commitments clearly documented. Use your system to record activities and schedule tasks.
At LAN Systems, we use a variety of tools for tracking sales efforts, managing HelpDesk requests and recording client information. Just like you, we search for the best way to incorporate important information into all our systems without duplicating efforts or losing data. We also work at automating functions so that we have a predictable, consistent result. If you're interested, we'd be happy to share our story with you!
Use IT to reduce costsThere are countless ways to use your IT system to reduce business costs. Computer tools are widely used by businesses of all sizes to automate tasks and analyze information. Start with documenting your business processes to streamline your activities to improve productivity and increase customer loyalty. Then replace slow or manual procedures and measure the results.
- Go electronic - Electronic Document Management is one of the biggest buzzes in IT because it is cool technology and can save you lots of money. Even on a small scale you can save big on paper, printing and storage. You will have to overcome hurtles in training personnel and in some cases convincing your staff that electronic is as, or more, reliable than paper. But after those issues are solved, you will be pleased with the cost savings and increased productivity.
- Analyze data - Knowledge is power and essential to sound business decisions. Your accounting and contact management software can provide many useful standard or customized reports. Use data mining techniques to find trends and forecast outcomes. The simplest of data mining is looking at the buying history of your customers to anticipate patterns and make associations. Article: Customer data mining for gold.
- Invest in personnel - Increase productivity by developing your most valuable resource. Your people are the key to a successful business. They will not only reduce costs by being more efficient, but they can improve every business interaction. Use your IT system to supplement employee communication, development and training. Create a company website to post training videos, documents, development opportunities and other items of interest for employees.
- Inventory control - Even if you don't want to invest in a full ERP system, you can use simple methods to control inventory levels and automate replenishment. Just-in-time (JIT) is not just for big manufacturing businesses. The JIT philosophy is simple, but requires an IT strategy to implement reliable methods to ensure stock levels.
- Outsource IT functions - During lean times, many companies concentrate on their core competencies and outsource what they can. If you are looking to streamline your IT budget, we can help.
|Getting rid of malware
|At the Security Lunch & Learn on November 5th, we introduced a malware product that we think you'll find useful. Go to: Malwarebytes for a free download of the latest version. Contact us for discounts and information on the full version.
If you have questions or need help, contact the LAN Systems Helpdesk at 770 662-0312. Just call - we'll be there!
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