For entrepreneurs, business efficiency does not only mean maximizing profits but, above all, the ability to invest, develop new projects, extend the business, and create something new, be it a product or a service. It is almost superfluous to underline how central the issue is from the point of view of business operations to the end of marking a line of demarcation between virtuous organizations and those subject to perennial survival risk.
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The Link Between Digital and business efficiency
The topic of business efficiency is extensive, but there is, in any case, a close link with digital transformation.
Many companies are embarking on the path towards industrial 4.0 models, towards agile working and process automation paradigms precisely to detect and resolve the inevitable pockets of inefficiency stratified over the years.
Returning to the first example, that of industry 4.0, still today, many manufacturing realities – of which Italy is happily rich – base the production scheduling on simple spreadsheets, on manual and repetitive procedures. Digital transformation means acquiring data from machines and allowing an IT system – which in this case is the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) – to optimize the use of resources, process stages, machine operation, and even tooling times. The consequences are obvious: less time, fewer costs, fewer errors, and more customer satisfaction.
Therefore, the transformation directly links to eliminating inefficiencies, errors, and redundant costs, which apply to any business activity. The concept highlighted in the previous example is the same as regards administrative processes, document management of logistics, corporate communications (often subject to a strong fragmentation of systems, which creates inefficiency), IT processes, smart working, and customer relations. Any business process can be made digitally efficient, and this is usually the driver for a deep transformation activity, which improves the organization and the underlying culture. In fact, if corporate efficiency represents the starting point for “bringing” digital into the company, it then determines a virtuous circle that makes it innovative, which allows the offer to be differentiated, to create new services, and, essentially, to grow. In the meantime, digital technology makes it possible to automate repetitive processes, reduce paper-based expenses (with positive repercussions also on the sustainability front), eliminate errors, create an engaging work environment, and manage customers better, enabling example contact structures open 24/7 and equipped with virtual assistants for routine inquiries. All this applies in B2B as in B2C.
Outsourcing and business efficiency
Another line of business that can create business efficiency is the outsourcing of IT infrastructure and systems management. The digitization of the business increases the management costs for IT, but not all companies have a dedicated structure with which to deal with it or intend to invest in ad hoc skills.
Delegating the complete management of IT infrastructure and systems to a provider like N-Tech has a beneficial impact on business efficiency and performance since, in addition to the quality of the service, this has a predictable cost which is substantiated in a monthly fee. The specialist skills and experience of the provider mean that the cost for the same quality and level of service is usually lower than that of internal management. Also, consider that, well into 2023; IT is not only what protects business continuity but also what makes it innovative and ready for the future.
The ROI of digital transformation
Many entrepreneurs are aware of the benefits of digital on business efficiency but fear that the return on investment (ROI) will take a long time to realize. Although everything depends on the type of project, its extension, and its objectives, this is only true in some cases.
From this point of view, the design capacity is essential, which the company usually delegates to a technological partner. Strengthened by the experience accumulated with many customers, the partner can direct companies towards activities that are quick to implement and have a strong impact on the business. Furthermore, it can divide the most extensive and challenging projects into many project streams, each capable of providing concrete results in a reasonable time. In many cases, the benefit is almost instantaneous. It is so in the case mentioned above of outsourcing. Still, it is also so in the automation of many processes: both activities reduce costs and allow companies to refocus some resources toward value-added activities.
Business efficiency and process redesign
An issue related to the use of digital for business efficiency purposes is the data-driven redesign of processes.
Let’s explain better. According to what we have seen so far, digitization makes it possible to simplify and automate business processes. Any activity can be related to KPI indicators: communications in an innovative working model, the adoption of digital platforms, process speed, IT ticket management, error rate, and many, many others. The process can be monitored to assess the transformation’s impact and adopt a continuous improvement model.
All this creates a real information asset that the company can exploit in various ways. If it is data relating to what revolves around the company (customers, suppliers, supply chain), it is possible to make critical business decisions based on the behavior of the interlocutors. In this regard, the typical example is customers’ purchasing behavior within eCommerce.
If digitization concerns internal processes, the redesigning process is a hypothesis that should be considered. In fact, digital does not limit itself to optimizing the process (eliminating errors, reducing the use of paper) but also provides information to carry out A/B tests and consequently review workflows to make them faster, more effective, and more efficient. The further benefit, linked to what has already been said, of improving the employee experience, which in the era of rampant disengagement can only translate into well-being and productivity, is to benefit both the person and the company.