Better technology Featured

8:00pm EDT July 26, 2007

How are you maximizing the use of technology within your company? Are you utilizing the technological tools to maximize business efficiency in the workplace? Are you offering corporate training on the latest software to keep your staff current with the constantly changing technology trends? Or, does your company approach technology in a lackluster and unmotivated manner, believing the technological wave of computers replacing humans is merely a bubble waiting to burst?

“Technology is here to stay,” says Rebeca Searcey, communications specialist with Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance. “The younger employees and those just entering the job market have lived with technology all their lives. They are not afraid of it and are ready to explore uses that may not even yet be available. The use of technology is going to continue to grow. Businesses wanting to grow are going to have to grow with it.”

Smart Business talked with Searcey for additional insights into incorporating new technology into today’s business.

What are some examples of the current technology that is helping businesses grow?

Web sites, teleconferencing and online training are three options used in today’s workplace to maximize operations, deliver quality customer services and an overall better customer experience. Today’s consumer is accustomed to a high-tech experience. Most companies are making an attempt to employ some, if not all, of these tools in order to maximize their competitive edge. The need for technological advances to provide efficient business services is growing. Companies that want to be a part of the competitive business community understand that as business technology grows, so shall a company’s knowledge and reliance on it.

Aren’t most businesses already using Web sites?

Web sites came into popular use in the early 1990s. But, what companies are realizing is that static Web sites have lost a valuable opportunity to engage their customer within the first three seconds. Ten years ago, these static Web sites were the norm and the business, not the client, was the most important piece of the puzzle. With the emergence of Web 2.0 and the tools associated with this evolution, the Internet and Web sites have evolved to become consumer-based and user-generated. A majority of customers use Web sites to research and actively engage with your company. Through the use of blogs and other consumer-driven functions, clients are in control and can have significant influence in the market. The platforms in use today have far-reaching and much more instantaneous abilities.

How can video or computer conferencing help my business?

Video and teleconferencing options can reduce liability of travel and thereby increase productivity. Investing in teleconferencing technology can facilitate meetings with multiple attendees from numerous locations and enable the viewing of documents or presentations from each individual’s computer. You can virtually be face to face with one or more customers or colleagues from miles away.

How does telecommuting differ from teleconferencing?

Telecommuting is the option of the employee to work from home. It utilizes the same technology as teleconferencing and, in many cases, the same technology vendor can offer both solutions. Telecommuting offers flexibility and can be a boost for creativity and can reduce office-related distractions. By working from home, the employee saves, on average, two to four hours of commuting time. At first mention, telecommuting can frighten most employers, perceiving that they don’t have direct control over their employee from home. Telecommuting may not be for all employees. But, it is up to the company to determine a workable policy. Also, in hurricane-prone states, such as Florida, 25 percent of companies without this technology may be vulnerable to stoppage. With telecommuting technology and a plan, a company could resume business within a few days.

How can online training benefit my organization?

Online learning enables student-centered teaching approaches. Every student has a way of learning what works best for them. The online environment makes instructors more approachable. Students can talk openly with their trainer through online chats, e-mail and in newsgroup discussions without delay. Users can sign on at their convenience, without the need for coordinating schedules and logistical details.

How can I become more technologically savvy?

Research. Educate yourself on new technological advances. Organizations such as the Tampa Bay Technology Forum can be a great resource and offer workshops and seminars that provide great insight into new technologies. IT schools and the chambers of commerce also offer informative opportunities for companies.

REBECA SEARCEY is a communications specialist with Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance. Reach her at (813) 740-4680 ext. 227 or at searceyr@workforcetampa.com.