How Digital Transformation is Shaping Industries

Nowadays, we live in a primarily digital world. Almost everything has transferred online or became digitized these days. The fact of the matter is that technological innovations and advancements are disrupting industries left and right. Simply put, modern technology is forcing industries to take on a new approach, in order to remain relevant in the market, as well as remain efficient. However, technology isn’t the only reason industries must consider a digital approach.

As a matter of fact, it’s the consumers and their purchasing habits and behavior, as well as their tendency to follow the latest trends that also forces industries to adapt. If you don’t adapt, in order to meet consumer expectations and needs, your competitors will most definitely outrun you. Companies across various industries must simply develop a more consumer-centric solution, in order to continue providing a seamless customer experience. That being said, here are a few ways how digital transformation is shaping industries.

Chasing a competitive advantage

Newest innovations on the market are always regarded by companies as an opportunity to outrun competitors. The main reason so many companies across various industries are prioritizing digitalization is that it may allow them to gain a competitive advantage. It only takes a single business to disrupt an entire industry and drastically change the rules simply by adopting a new technology or developing a new approach.

That’s why most companies are in one way or another prioritizing digitalization. As a matter of fact, 47% of company CEOs stated that they are being pushed towards adopting a digital approach for their business by their board of directors while 56% stated that their business digitalization efforts are already increasing company profits. In essence, while some companies are considering digitalization others are already implementing new strategies and approaches. In other words, the digital transformation is bound to happen across various industries sooner or later.

Improving efficiency

The fact that every industry is about to experience a digital transformation is evident. Even the industries that are less likely to consider digitalization, such as oil and gas sector are in fact, doing so. Resource exploration industry has so far avoided digitalization but even they have to adapt to modern trends and innovations. The main reason is that a digital approach enables the oil and gas sector to improve efficiency, reduce operational costs and streamline entire processes, among other things.

That being said, oil extraction professionals that are keeping up with the latest technology have implemented an ecommerce solution. As a matter of fact, reliable oilfield equipment zone essentials can be easily bought and acquired online, thus reducing the downtime and maintenance costs for mission-critical equipment on the field. Not only that but artificial intelligence and automation are also making their way into the resource exploration industry, helping operators streamline the processes of detection and exploitation of natural resources.

Meeting consumer demands

As mentioned before, consumer habits are oftentimes one of the main reasons why industries and companies develop a new approach. After all, if you’re not relevant to your customers you will lose a battle to your competitors. Consumer demand for increased and improved connectivity, as well as their increasing interest in smart devices and IoT (Internet of Things), has already made an impact on various businesses ranging from retail to ecommerce and so on. These demands have made their way even to the automotive industry.

Nowadays, one of the rising trends in this industry is self-driving and highly connected vehicles. Therefore, the cars of the future won’t be able to fly anytime soon but they will surely be able to drive themselves. Vehicle manufacturers and sales dealerships are also adopting a digital approach for their consumers. As a matter of fact, 75% of consumers who are interested in buying a vehicle will conduct their research online. Moreover, a digital approach in the automotive industry is also there to serve new consumer needs, especially since 56% of millennials would rather avoid interacting with salespeople in person.

Reshaping the logistics

The distribution and logistics industry is also experiencing vast changes due to the digital transformation. Logistics and distribution providers are practically being forced to adopt a new approach because their clients are doing so as well. For example, retail and ecommerce sectors are leveraging the newest technology to its fullest potential, thus making numerous promises to their customers, such as next-day or even same-day delivery, in order to boost customer experience. Also, manufacturers in the automotive industry want materials delivered at the right time for production, in order to avoid having to store materials around.

These demands force distribution and logistics providers to step up their game and deliver on their clients’ expectations. Even though logistic providers aren’t part of major brands per se, they still feel responsible for representing those brands through their services. Therefore, as manufacturers and retailers implement their digital approaches, distribution and logistics providers must become an extension of their clients’ brands, in order to remain competitive and relevant.

The world is already reshaped by the digital era and it continues to be transformed. As technology continues to advance, the increasing need for new solutions challenges various industries. Even the industries that are reluctant to transform will eventually have to do so. That is if they wish to remain successful and competitive in the market.

Guest author, Raul Harman, is a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. While he’s not enjoying football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com

Spice It Up! How to Keep Business Meetings Exciting

Business meetings are necessary for a variety of reasons,but employees will not appreciate them or remember anything that was discussed if they are not being engaged. Engaging your employees is one way you can give and receive feedback on previous and current trends, as well as events of the business. There is more than one way to engage your employees during a business meeting. 

Start with an Ice Breaker

Whether you host a meeting in the morning, afternoon or evening, it’s good to begin the meeting with an icebreaker. Everyone can tell an interesting fact about themselves, what they did over the weekend or talk about a few of their favorite hobbies. You can take turns playing catch-ball by going around the room and letting everyone tell something about themselves.An engaging activity helps keeps employees awake, as well as help them maintain focus and remember many of the topics discussed in the meeting. 

Try a Different Location

Instead of staying in a building, get some fresh air and leave the four walls behind. Nothing wakes you up like a breath of fresh air.Try hosting a meeting in a park or make reservations somewhere nice, such as a cafe. New surroundings make people alert because they are busy observing, but still paying attention. New surroundings can also be great for relaxing and unwinding. Employees who are constantly on the edge will benefit from a different surrounding where they can relax. 

Put Technology to Work

Have you thought about hosting a conference call to host the meeting? Employees are more likely to attend because they can choose the place where they are the most comfortable, such as their home,library, bookstore or any other place. When employees are given a little freedom, they are more responsive and more engaged in the meeting. 

Bring Refreshments or Have it Catered

Refreshments are good for business meetings because they give everyone an extra incentive to attend. Regardless of what time you decide to start the meeting, refreshments give people a boost of energy that helps them make it through the last stretch of the day or get off to a great start in the morning. Refreshments could be something simple like light snacks, not a full meal. Bagels, chips, water, juice, coffee, fruit, and similar items make great light snacks that can help employees be more attentive in the meeting.

If you’re having a bigger meeting or just want to treat your hardworking employees to something special, having a full meal catered is a great way to reward them for their effort. Look into local restaurants and services, like El Molinito Restaurant & Catering or another in your area, for the best food and selections.

Employees and many business owners alike are not fond of meetings and dread them because of how boring they can be. These tips can help you spice up your meeting and make it interesting, so the next time, employees are more inclined to attend. Meetings don’t have to be the downfall of your day.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Simple Tips on How to Better Organize Your Office

Our office environment has a profound impact on how we work. In a well-organized space, there is a place for everything and everything is in its place. You are able to tackle your obligations with minimum stress and setbacks, making strides toward set goals.

To make it happen, embrace a zero-tolerance policy to everything that disrupts the workflow and impedes your performance. In other words, you have to find a way to banish all the mess, distractions, and clutter. Here are some actionable tips you can implement fuss-free, without going out of your way.

Plan ahead of time

It always takes a bit of planning, commitment and perseverance to get things under control. The scope of work might seem intimidating at first, but remember that it pays dividends in the long run. What is more, you can break it down into manageable bits by working out a solid plan. After all, office organization is not a one and done activity. You need to commit to doing it every day. In that case, you foster a change with 5-10 minutes of daily bursts.

Distinguish between different work zones

Recognize that the office contains different zones that accommodate various activities. The main distinction is between the computer (desktop) and non-computer work areas. So, take your time to envision a more productive office through the lenses of this divide and conquer principle. At this point, it also helps to do some rearranging. Namely, try to figure out a more optimal furniture layout. That way, you can gain more space without actually throwing anything out.

Assess storage needs

Another key to success is ample storage space, which is paramount to your organization efforts. So, do a thorough inventory and assess how much space you need. Every little bit of storage counts, regardless of how small or big it is. That being said, in order to make a real difference, you do want to opt for heavy-duty commercial storage solutions. Do your homework and find products that meet specific industry requirements and environmentally-friendly standards.

Accommodate your work habits

Bear in mind that your choices depend on your work style and the type of tasks you need to perform. For example, in case you like moving around a lot, you can ponder off-the-desk management tools. Here, you should strive to maximize the vertical dimension and go for wall-mounted solutions such as floating shelves and double-decker files. On the other hand, a desk drawer is an excellent place for stuff that should be both out of sight and fairly accessible.

May the purge begin

The next thing to do is to take a good look around the office and weed out clutter. Yes, it is time for a great purge. Separate important documents and stuff you need on a regular basis from items that only get in your way. Note that you can designate a catch-it space, where you put incoming junk. This is a nice tactic to keep it out of your pristine workstation, where everything must be visible and reachable so that you do not waste time looking for things.

Restore order to your desktop

Speaking of which, you want to take extra time and focus on your desktop surface. Here, you can employ various tools like mason jars, sorters, trays and organizers to keep the swarm of small items and knickknacks at bay. To reduce the amount of paper you deal with every day,adopt the practice of office digitization. Discard all documents that do not need not be filed or digitized, as well as those annoying duplicates.

Conclusion

If you really mean business,you cannot let the chips fall where they may. Evaluate how you work and master the art of de-cluttering your workspace. Know what to get rid of, what to store away, and what to keep within arm’s reach. Blend personal productivity systems with general office organization methods.

This is a basic formula for putting together an impeccable zone of productivity that supports your work style and habits. Applying it to your surroundings, you will be able to get more things done every day and steer clear of productivity pitfalls.

Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in latest business news and new social media trends. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

Warehouse Stuck in the Neolithic Age? 4 Ways to Automate Your Facility

When it comes to the warehouse industry, the future is automation. This involves several components that all work together in order to get the task done. Here are some of the ways that you can automate your facility and bring it into the next century. 

Cartonization 

Through the use of technology, you can save some money on your shipping costs by employing cartonization methods. This is where the size and number of boxes are calculated in the most efficient manner possible to get the order out the door. Automation has made this task a little bit easier because your employees don’t have to spend time trying to get all of your customer orders packaged into boxes safely for shipment. 

Robotic Technology 

Another advantage when it comes to automation is through the use of robots.There are any number of robotic technologies that can used across a variety of different types of manufacturing fields. For example, robotic arms can be used to remove and stock whole pallets or individual items on a shelving system in your warehouse. This may eliminate some of the concerns that are more prevalent when it comes to workplace injuries that could occur. 

Automatic Pallet Wrapping 

It may take two employees for you to be able wrap up your pallets for shipping without the use of technology. Automatic pallet wrapping systems are available for you to purchase from companies like Fox Packaging Services. The point of many these machines is that your employees only need to position the pallet and then push a button in order to have it done in the most efficient manner possible. This will prevent the loss of products during the shipping process. 

Automated Labeling Systems 

Labeling all of your products can be a tedious process. It can also lead to mistakes if you have a person completing this task. Using an automated printing and label applying machine ensures that the label is done correctly and applied in the correct location all of the time. It allows your employees to focus on the more important tasks when it comes to running your warehouse. More quality control steps can be taken to ensure that your products are the best on the market. 

There are advantages when it comes to the use of technology in manufacturing and warehouses. More automation often leads to higher-skilled labor who can work to refine the process further. Consider these reasons when it comes to the benefits of upgrading your facility.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

5 Actionable Tips for Scaling Your Small Business

Do you know how to scale your business? Starting your business took a lot of hard work. Now that you’re ready for expansion, you will likely face an entirely new set of challenges.

Already, as part of your routine, you must serve customers, supervise your staff, keep the books and fill other administrative roles. With so much to do, scaling your business might seem impossible. Where do you start? How do you find the time?

Use the following actionable tips for scaling your small business to do the job without becoming overwhelmed or busting your budget.

Embrace Success

Already, you’ve overcome the odds by building a successful small business. You know what failure looks like and you probably don’t like it. So, as you scale your business, think big and approach everything you do with a “success” mentality.

You can probably find thousands of fantastic ideas that can help you scale. Prepare yourself right now to say “no” to most of them. You have limited amounts of time and money, so stay focused on the things that matter the most.

Always keep the big picture in mind. Make every decision with an eye for the future. If you don’t, you could incur unnecessary expenses. For example, if you skimp on your data network or software applications, you may have to replace them if they can’t grow with you.

So, when you invest in systems, make sure they can scale with your business. Take a similar approach while assembling your team.

Get Help

Find someone who can serve as your mentor and advisor. Such a person could be anyone with experience either in your industry or your type of business. An investor, business owner, or someone with similar experience can fill this role.

In addition to getting advice from peers, you should learn to depend on your team. Rather than trying to do everything yourself, try delegating responsibilities. By letting other people share the load, you can have more time to plan and execute your growth strategy.

Of course, as your business grows, you will need to expand your team. Avoid the temptation to take shortcuts with your team. You need well-qualified people who can deliver a high level of performance. To do this, you’ll need to offer competitive wages, perks, educational opportunities, and other benefits.

Use Technology

As you scale, look for ways to work smarter rather than harder. Here, technology can play a vital role. For instance, you can use a cloud-based collaboration app to unify remote workers with your traditional employees.

When done right, your entire team can work together on documents, share files, and hold group brainstorming sessions. Tools that support instant messaging, live chat, video conferencing, and virtual whiteboards can also help your staff become more productive.

Automation offers you additional ways to scale your business. Thanks to technology, you can eliminate redundant data entry and automate many routine tasks. In the end, you can substantially improve productivity while eliminating opportunities for making errors.

Other opportunities for improving your business’ performance include analytics tools. These can collect and analyze multiple data points from your organization and provide insights into its performance.

Get Online

Your website and social networks are assets that you shouldn’t ignore. Spend time assessing their current state and then develop a plan for moving forward. Remember that a fresh and active online presence can grow your sales.

Now is a fantastic time to refresh your market research. First, identify the type of customers that need what you offer. Next, learn about the problems and challenges they face. You should also learn about their desires and aspirations.

Based on your research, create a persona that represents your ideal customer. As you create content, keep this person in mind. Create value by addressing the real-world issues that your persona faces.

Most of all, be consistent. On social media, share your brand’s personality. Socialize with your followers and share content. Do more than pitch sales. Become part of the community.

Encourage Feedback

In your quest for growth, never forget about your current customers. For starters, you can dramatically reduce your selling costs by closing repeat sales. In other words, by expanding your base, you can boost your profitability.

Your customers can also provide you with feedback that can support your ongoing success. They can provide you with answers to important questions:

● What new products and features should you sell?
● How can you create a better customer experience?
● What factors limit their frequency and volume of sales?
● How can you deliver more value to the marketplace?

Consider sending customers a survey after every sale. This gives them a chance to express their level of satisfaction and share their opinions. To encourage participation, keep your surveys short and simple. Additionally, offer an incentive such as a discount on a future purchase.

In conclusion, rest assured that you can successfully scale your business. However, to avoid the mistakes that have doomed other business, you should apply the above tips. Start by thinking big. your winning attitude will help you overcome failures and mistakes.

As you make progress, avoid distractions, get the help you need, leverage technology, and build your online presence. In the end, scaling your business requires a lot of work and some risk. What do you think about this topic? Share your comments or experiences that may help small business owners rise to the next level.

Joe Peters

Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate tech enthusiast. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie enjoys reading about the latest apps and gadgets and binge-watching his favorite TV shows. You can reach him @bmorepeters

4 Procurement Strategies for Small Business

Procurement in relation to small business takes on a much different meaning than it’s big biz counterpart. Sure, they both involve similar practices, but in small business, it’s generally approached by a single person or small group — the most pertinent being the business owner. Small businesses don’t have access to a team of interns or professionals to handle research, vetting and communication. Instead, they have to do it all themselves.

Already, a small business owner has many demands and challenges on their plate from staffing and inventory management to customer service. Procurement, then, tends to be a much lower priority. But it shouldn’t be this way. In fact, most small businesses spend between 45 and 65 percent of their sales revenue on the procurement of inputs. It’s a massive undertaking for any company, big or small, so it should be afforded the appropriate attention.

In light of all this, let’s explore some tips and strategies that small to mid-sized businesses can leverage during procurement.

1. Form a Business Consortium

As a small business, you just don’t have the same buying power and influence as a major organization, at least not by yourself. In some cases, this issue can mean that many potential suppliers and vendors are off-limits simply because they work only with larger outfits. It also means that when you do find a potential partner, you may not save as much because you can’t meet optimal quantity limits. Vendors and suppliers will often offer exclusive discounts and deals for ordering in bulk.

Much of this inconvenience can be remedied by forming a consortium between local or similar small businesses. By partnering with others who need the same supplies, you can instantly meet volume requirements for additional savings and hold much more potency when it comes to buying power. Even when volume discounts aren’t offered, you can still benefit from cost savings, because the total investment is split between multiple parties as opposed to remaining solely on your shoulders.

2. Maintain Supplier and Vendor Relationships

Long-lasting relationships, especially with suppliers and vendors, tend to come with many benefits. It can save a lot of time and resources, for one, that you would otherwise waste looking for additional support. There’s also something to be said for the buildup of trust between loyal partners, as you can generally speak more freely and openly with a strategic partner you’ve dealt with over an extended period.

Perhaps even more relevant is the point that you’ll likely be evolving and scaling your operations as time goes on. This process will come naturally as your business grows, of course, but eventually, you’ll make an effort to improve efficiencies or output or just look for potential improvements to make. Having a strong bond or relationship with your vendors and suppliers means that you can include them in this process as well. You might even be able to stretch more enhancements out of helping them achieve optimizations too.

Indirect spending can also be reduced or mitigated by working with a single or small selection of vendors. The money you would spend on research, placing bids or seeking partners — and even varying prices from working with separate parties — can be outright eliminated. In fact, improving your procurement process can result in cost savings of 25 percent or more from indirect spending.

3. Consider Outsourcing

Outsourcing — in its many forms — may not be for everyone. However, if there’s one area of the business world where it can offer incredible benefits, it’s for small to mid-sized businesses. Generally, these operations don’t have access to extended resources, staff or equipment, so it’s difficult to keep up with the current state of the market and scale accordingly for more demanding customers.

Outsourcing involves balancing the work and operations so that a more qualified, capable party handles the tasks that your small business could not. There are many opportunities, service possibilities and providers out there, including outsourcing companies for finances, strategic analysis, IT, security and cloud computing solutions. Even supply and vendor management companies are available and will handle all duties related to logistics and inventory management.

Taking advantage of outsourcing also frees up the time of your limited staff so that you can handle more important or pressing matters. Taking into account the sheer number of responsibilities you have on your plate, that benefit in and of itself might be worth the investment.

4. Employ the Right Technologies

When researching potential suppliers, having access to the right software and systems can be instrumental. Even beyond that initial phase, software solutions can help create job postings and handle bidding processes, reference qualifications, submit and process payments and cover general vendor management duties. Not only will this assistance significantly cut costs associated with time and resource investments, but it will also simplify the entire process, eliminating most of the manual activities you’d otherwise have to follow.

Out of 200 businesses surveyed, 50.72 percent said their biggest tech adoption challenge was cost, being that the solutions they might be interested in are too expensive. A further 40.58 percent said that they didn’t have enough time to invest into finding or testing proper solutions, while 26.09 percent said the tech is too complicated.

If those businesses actually invested time into finding proper tech-based solutions, they’d also find cost savings, more free time — which could be used in better ways — and much easier process management. The reality is almost exactly the opposite of what many claimed in the survey.

When considering all these tips and potential procurement strategies, it becomes much easier to see how a business owner or small team could handle their duties. More importantly, it’s not just about getting the work done, but doing so efficiently and accurately. You need the proper time to research, trial and build a relationship with potential vendors, if only to improve the quality of your own products and services.

Procurement should never be an afterthought, even for small business.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.

Starting a Business: How to Find the Right Technology Solutions for Your Company

Starting a business can be a complicated experience, but it is often rewarding. If you are starting a business, you should consider using technology solutions to make the business run more efficiently.

Use Technology for Time Management

Time management is a necessary part of starting a business. You need to have a timeline, goals for your time and know what you’re doing at all times. If you know these things, you’ll always know exactly when you need to be performing a task or something similar. It’s important to start doing this right away.

IT Operations Matter

Handling IT aspects can be hard especially for someone who has never worked in IT before. Using Managed IT operation services might make it easier for you to handle different aspects of IT. It may also make it easier for you to form connections with the people you’re working with since it can be easier to get started with your business if you handle the technological aspects of it.

Team up for Technology

If there is a piece of technology you really want but just aren’t quite ready to invest in right away, you might want to team up with another company that’s getting off the ground. Split the cost of the tool and then split your use of it. There are different ways you can do this, but the easiest is finding software that can easily switch between different systems or companies.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Technology is all about working smarter instead of working harder. Dedicate different tasks to the way you want to work and make sure you’re doing everything you can to make the tasks easier. It’s important to try different things and make sure you’re prepared for anything that could come in the way of your business being successful.

Research before Investing

Always do your research. The chances are you researched about your business before you invested your time and money in it. Do the same thing with technology you plan to use in your business. If you know what you want, start researching it right away so you can make the necessary changes. It’s important to focus on how technology can improve your business instead of how it could cost your business a lot of money.

Starting a business doesn’t have to be difficult. Even though it takes a lot of work, there are things you can do to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley