From RSM’s Technology Bulletin . . .
With the new year upon us, organizations have several opportunities to enhance operations, improve efficiency and ultimately increase profitability through more effective technology planning and utilization. The following are five key trends that your business can monitor and leverage in 2017 to strengthen your organizational processes and support your sustained success.
- The move to digital
The concept of digital will continue to be defined but ultimately comes down to four key capabilities: personalization, engagement, prediction and organizational agility. Implementing digital strategies to enable technologies to focus on an organization’s three major stakeholders (customers, suppliers and employees) will be paramount in 2017.
Of the three major stakeholders, expect the customer experience to be a core focus in 2017. Continued advances in customer personalization through customer relationship management (CRM) systems, marketing automation, big data, mobile and the internet of things are critical for businesses of all sizes to provide context based on customer preferences, order history and employee interactions. Businesses are quickly adopting these tools to increase value offered to their customers, and lower the barrier of doing business as a market advantage.
Customization options in product mix are becoming increasingly important as well, as a way for businesses to differentiate their offerings from the competition.
- Automation, automation, automation
Process automation is an essential requirement to scale any business. More and more companies have adopted core enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics to take full advantage of their information technology (IT) investments. To do this, they are maximizing the use of core, transactional systems, as well as integrating third-party solutions to improve process automation and increase full-time equivalent productivity.
In addition, new technology entrants to the market are automating back-office processes such as accounts payable, account reconciliation, financial close management, travel and expense, and procurement, representing the next evolution after an ERP implementation. These solutions allow companies to increase accuracy, work smarter and do more with less.
- Middle market big data
Big data has been a buzz term in the IT world for some time now. Aggregated data from a number of different sources can provide visibility into patterns, trends and associations that are not obvious when looking at one set of data alone. This technology will continue to enable predictive analytics for increased insight into customers, employees and financials.
The next generation of these software solutions is designed and licensed for smaller businesses, having perfected the approach with larger multinational enterprises. Web-based tools such as Microsoft PowerBI and HDinsight enable business leaders to visualize and add dimension to real data, providing the same benefits as offered to large enterprises.
- Internet of things, virtual and augmented reality
More and more companies are using the internet of things to track behavior, with a focus on business processes, customer behavior and productivity. Expect organizations to further integrate technology into products and services to provide strategic differentiation.
In addition, the blending of physical and virtual worlds is becoming more ubiquitous and more useful. Over the course of 2016, we saw the focus on the consumer, so it won’t be long before organizations adopt the technology as part of internal processes for design or training and ways to connect with the end consumer.
- 5G internet further accelerates cloud and mobility demand
Wireless will make a giant leap this year with the introduction of next-generation internet delivery methods. Mobile carriers will start testing ultra-high-speed cellular technologies, while internet service providers that typically provide service over ground-based cables, as well as new providers, will start releasing wireless solutions. This improved connectivity and speed will enable users to become even more mobile and more dependent on the cloud.
Businesses that embrace this shift can expect higher employee retention rates, better productivity, greater access to talent and ultimately a more innovative culture. The always-connected user will demand more cloud services as these are faster and more reliable than the traditional infrastructure and built for the mobile world.
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Source: RSM, an IMA member company