Communication & Technology
by Isobel Washington
Effective communication is crucial to business success and is achieved when the business has access to accurate, real-time data that must be generated and compiled by today's many technological advances. Technology has magnified and enhanced the communications aspect of business, reshaping business in a variety of ways and changing the marketplace into one that is far more competitive and fast-moving. With the Internet's progress, which dramatically changed the business climate, new advances in communications technology have transformed business yet again. Cloud computing is one significant example. Learn about the key aspects of business, the importance of effective communication to these aspects of business and the ways in which technology should function to facilitate and enhance communication in these aspects.
Effective internal communications, no matter the organizational structure of the business, requires the easy flow of information from the top to bottom of the hierarchy, and visa versa, as well as the easy transfer of information within and throughout different departments. Business heads and top executives should have accurate and up-to-date information readily available to them to assess the position (success) of the business. This can often be achieved by a network that links all business employees on a single interface that allows them to share and view information easily. Sharing a network means that updates and revisions to reports can be added and viewed by all business employees in real time, instead of printing hard copies of information that might be outdated by the time they are distributed, as in the days before advanced computer technology.
Sales and Marketing
The key to an effective sales and marketing department is access to accurate and up-to-the-minute information. Sales and marketing people need to design and implement strategies and assess the effectiveness of such strategies based on quantitative and qualitative data that could have to do with one or all of the following: product trends (increases in sales volume), customer trends from customer data, sales trends by season or some other increment of time, buying behavior and a plethora of other possible categories with which sales and marketing employees can draw conclusions that affect strategic and tactical business planning. Technology can facilitate sales and marketing communication with software that can track and store all data associated with strategic planning and have it readily available upon request.
Attracting and Retaining Customers
Attracting new customers contributes to business success, but retaining old customers is just as important. The way to attract and retain customers is by meeting customer needs and appeasing demands. The only way to achieve this is by knowing exactly what customer needs are, what appeals to customer tastes and what the competition is doing and not doing to hold onto customers. This, too, requires the constant tracking of a huge amount of specific data that can be compiled and categorized to draw conclusions. The technology should be able to facilitate acquiring this data. For example, by tracking the purchases of each customer, conclusions can be drawn about customer tastes and buying habits. Amazon.com provides an example of how tracking individual customer data not only enables the tailoring of specific sales strategies by seemingly appealing to specific customer tastes, but also how the compilation of that data is used to stay ahead of the competition by monitoring sales trends.
Social media technology has changed the world of communication on a broad and deep level and has had a tremendous impact on the business climate. Because people can constantly stay connected with a large number of people simultaneously, the importance of "word of mouth" has grown dramatically. Also, social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, have enabled businesses to research and monitor customer behavior in a new, up-to-the-minute way. Businesses have also made it a priority to use such platforms to promote their business.
Cloud computing technology has had a significant impact on the way business is conducted, consumer buying behavior and general communications since the emergence of web-based email in the 1990s. Cloud computing involves the use of web-based software (which requires no hardware on the user's part) operated remotely on the "cloud," which allows users to access and interact with the same software interface just by having a computer and an Internet connection. The user can store, share, revise and access his own data using any computer or device that allows the user online. Social media networks are examples of cloud computing. Companies now use cloud computing to improve internal communications, sales and marketing, and customer retention and to decentralize the business climate. Amazon.com is the greatest illustration of the best use of cloud computing and how its use can lead to tremendous success.
Current technology has expanded the possibilities of how businesses can communicate with the public. Communication with the public (consumers) is in the form of advertising and public relations, and involves getting across the "right" message (what the business wants to say and how the business wants to be positioned in the public eye) in the most effective way. Announcements for new products or services, for instance, are made through press releases, which once reached different media channels, such as television and newspapers, by fax machine. Because of special software and new communication technology, a press release can be sent to many media channels simultaneously and be automatically posted to target spots on the Internet in a way much faster and more efficient than the days of fax machines and phone calls. Advertising (different than public relations since it is a paid outreach) can be created using an variety of design programs, which can make any idea "come to life" and propel average text-and-image execution. Ads can be strategically placed for utmost effectiveness, thanks to technology that compiles and analyzes viewership data of multiple communications sources, such as print magazines, television, the web, and outdoor channels, like billboards and benches. To stay competitive, it is important for businesses to take advantage of the vast amount of technological advances that have made advertising and public relations much more efficient and effective.