Over the past several years there has been a monumental shift in the availability of tools on the Internet, and at the beginning of 2020, analysts thought that this type of service delivery would continue to grow at a swift rate. They didn’t account for a global pandemic.

The coronavirus outbreak enhanced the demand for services and increased the likelihood that smaller businesses would consider them. Over a year later, it seems that the innovation that experts predicted was going to happen over the course of the next three or four years, accelerated, and now businesses of all sizes are operating over the Internet.

Internet-Based Companies

For quite some time there have been companies that operate solely over the Internet. Of course, retail companies come to mind when you think of “Internet business”. Amazon, eBay, and the like have made billions of dollars without the use of any storefronts (ironically, however, now they have some). Besides these retail behemoths, many other businesses moved their way online in efforts to open new revenue streams and tap untapped markets.

Over the past several years we’ve begun to see a paradigm shift toward digital services happen pretty rapidly. Financial services were one of the first service providers to really embrace the benefits of providing online services, but they weren’t the only industry looking to make the whole new digital ecosystem work for them. The truth is, however, where money goes, everyone follows.

The Growth of Digital Systems

As mentioned above, the COVID-19 pandemic did the one thing that no other event could have done. It brought those companies who were reluctant to embrace the digital transformation into the fold; and many of those companies that came late to the party are extremely unprepared. While these companies scrambled to migrate their information systems and strategies over to ones that can be accessed online, other companies, who got out in front of this were well-positioned to succeed during these times. Even some companies who weren’t wholly prepared, but were able to transition to digital-only by already using cloud-based software and hardware, were able to flank slower-moving competitors.

Additionally, many smaller businesses that didn’t have the liquidity to hold up against the tide of decreased consumer demand, found themselves closing their doors. Unfortunately, this was the fate for over 100,000 U.S. small businesses in 2020. This major crisis was always going to have a marked impact on SMBs, but seeing so many businesses failing, and the entire economy in a major downturn, you can’t help but think that if it wasn’t for the Internet, the whole world economy would be in tatters.

The one thing that digital systems accomplish is that they can sustain mission-critical business processes while the workforce is in flux. Part of a business’ strategy at this point is to cut redundant and unnecessary costs and the digital transformation of a business can help do that in ways that could save millions of jobs and tens of thousands of businesses. One could make the point that businesses that are looking to cut spending should still be pushing money toward IT because it’s the most cost-effective way to keep from compromising business health.

What Digital Systems are Being Used?

With all that’s happening, one question that has to be answered is: “what digital systems are being used by today’s businesses to keep from going belly up?” It’s not as easy as telling you which tools you need to use as it is to explain why certain tools can be useful. As we mentioned above, the digital tide was already turning before the pandemic hit; COVID-19 just moved things along. Here are some digital tools you should be considering:

Cloud Hardware and Software

Most parts of your organizational computing infrastructure can now be effectively rented. Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service offerings are becoming the norm as increased demand has reduced costs enough for even the smallest business to consider using some digital, cloud-hosted tool to try and help their operations. Not only can you get full servers with storage, you can also get individual licenses for all mission-critical management and productivity applications. All the management and maintenance and hosting is baked into the individual cost that is typically charged per user or per gigabyte. You can even get security suites and whole communication platforms with business-grade telephone systems and video conferencing in the cloud nowadays. If you are looking to digitally transform your business, shopping for cloud-based services is your best bet.

Automation

Much of the software that is available has some type of automation options built in. As businesses get more digital, they need to find ways to keep efficient. Much of today’s management and support software does this today by automating repetitive and mundane tasks that, up until recently, had to be completed manually. Many of today’s solutions are taking advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning technology that adjust the automated responses to the information that is being taken in. This technology can work to automate more and more of your business processes. This can help you keep costs down and productivity up. The best part: automation can make every part of your business more efficient, from your sales and marketing, to your production, distribution, and customer support.

Collaboration

With a focus on productivity, many of today’s essential business tools have collaboration baked right in. For those that don’t, they are almost certainly able to be integrated with today’s most innovative collaboration and project management apps. Today’s cloud-hosted collaboration tools provide team members a tool to actively work alongside each other from across a room or across the world. They integrate many of the top project management, marketing, communication, and productivity tools with a central hub where they can access the resources they need and conversate. The more coordination a team has, the more successful they are likely to be. With today’s collaboration software, your employees can do more, faster, and more effectively.

The digital economy is continuing to grow rapidly. Gartner has the rate of growth at about 17 percent per year over the next five years, to what is expected to be a trillion-dollar industry by 2025. If the past year is any indication, that figure isn’t too far off.

If you would like to have a conversation with one of our trusted IT consultants about how to push the digital envelope for your business, give The Ockers Company a call today at (800) 346-0122.