Economists are forecasting continued slow growth in the economy throughout 2023. This difficult environment is accompanied by historic inflation rates, and mass layoffs, leaving an unsettled feeling even for those whose jobs are secure. We’re dealing with less spending power, higher prices, and increasing uncertainty all at once. Further boosting our anxiety, worldwide supply chains continue to experience periodic interruptions, customer service interactions are leaving consumers feeling abused, businesses are failing to deliver on sustainability promises and war continues.
The world is a busy place, and most of us are feeling tired and frustrated by trying to keep up. We’re stymied by too many decisions and too much information to effectively process. At work, we simply don’t have as much energy to put toward figuring out where to best cut costs and how to invest to position our companies for growth now and when the economy begins to recover.
As we reassess our organizations, three technologies offer relatively simple ways to boost internal efficiencies and to right-size spend to better match the capabilities we really use. As 2023 unfolds, there are three opportunities to better use technology:
- Use free time from slowing work to focus workers on cleaning up data to get more value out of document management systems.
- Automate processes to boost efficiencies and focus human effort on the most meaningful tasks.
- Invest in composable technologies to leverage a better match between technology use and technology spend leading to improved financial return to the organization.
1. Turn Unused Time Toward Better Information Management.
In periods of growth, we often don’t have time to work on the business, because we’re so busy meeting the demands of customers and market growth. However, as we become less busy in the office due to the slowing economy, workers have an opportunity to reassess why they’re doing what they’re doing. Start with reviewing and cleaning up information and information management systems.
Documents tend to multiply and many employees hoard multiple versions on hard drives, resulting in unneeded growth of stored information and extending the length of time it takes to find information needed to make smart choices. Further, significant time is lost to verifying which version of a document is the most correct and should be used. According to Starmind, the average employee spends more than 100 minutes daily searching for information. That’s about 10 weeks of the year at a cost of more than $7,000 per employee.1
Don’t give up on technologies that can help.
2. Automate Critical Processes to Streamline Business.
Any automation is beneficial to a business, but it becomes critical during tough economies. Often, organizations need to maintain or even boost customer experiences during these seasons in order to protect existing revenue. That can be tough in environments with fewer resources.
Business functions that still rely on paper documents and those with rules-based, repetitive tasks are the best candidates for automation. Rather than trying to recreate manual processes with technology, start instead by focusing on your desired end result. As you work backward through the steps needed to achieve it, you’ll spot places where your automated processes can be even more effective than their manual predecessors. The overarching goal is to design automated processes that enable your workforce to maintain a high level of productivity in any work environment, boosting effectiveness in the office, at home, or wherever they find themselves. Ultimately, automation focuses your human efforts on the most meaningful tasks, while off-loading the mundane to workflow (document routing) and robotic process automation (RPA) technologies.
Much like better information management, automation offers significant savings potential. WorkMarket reports the average employee could save about 2 hours daily by automating job tasks equating to 6 weeks a year at a cost of around $3,600 per employee.2
3. Invest in Composable Technologies to Save Money.
An emerging change in the architecture underlying business technologies offers a significantly better match between technology spend and the value it returns to the business than has been possible before. Called composable, consumption as a service, and micro services these products package capabilities in much smaller bundles than the products that have been traditional over the last couple of decades. These small feature bundles can be activated as needed and used in virtually any combination to exactly suit a company’s needs. Composable products eliminate the portion of more traditional license fees spent on unused features (estimated to be as high as 80%3), and focus spending only on what is actually used.
Technologies with this smarter architecture help companies to smart-size their technology use and cost. Plus, composable products offer other benefits especially critical during tough financial seasons, including:
- Unlimited scalability and the ability to process information in bulk
- Only buy and pay for what you need, which improves the return on investment for technology projects.
- Every dollar spent results in value to the organization.
In addition, composable products improve worker experience. These products don’t distract workers with unused features, reducing the cognitive load associated with work tasks, and they can help businesses streamline training to get more value out of workers more quickly.
We’re all feeling the discomfort of a difficult financial environment coupled with worldwide political, environmental, and social struggles. But businesses still have the opportunity to reduce costs and to invest wisely in growth technologies in ways that honor and protect workers. As business slows, turn worker efforts toward information clean-up and process automation and begin smart-sizing your technology spend with composable products that offer a better match between money spent and useful features. This dual strategy of streamlining costs and investing wisely is the best way to position your company for success—regardless of what the overall economy is doing.