As we look back at 2017 and reflect on our successes, we also ask ourselves where we can improve and how we can help our clients do their work better in the new year. As a technology company, of course our answers focus on how you can prepare technologically for 2018. What key steps should you take now to ensure you have the best business year possible?
We recommend starting with an honest assessment of your goals for the next year. What do you want to accomplish with your business and your own life? How might technology help you accomplish those goals? Do you want to work faster or enhance employee productivity? Improve client communications and guarantee error-free documents? Improve your overall information security or your software integration?
These are all reasonable goals—and you can realize all of them by implementing a few straightforward (but not necessarily easy) steps. Try the following to help your business start 2018 on the strongest foot possible.
1. If you’re not already using the cloud, get there.
Has your business fully transitioned to the cloud? If not, should it? According to one survey, the vast majority of businesses have adopted cloud services for at least some tasks. Specifically, “in terms of the most commonly used cloud services today, web hosting leads at 76 percent, followed by email hosting at 56 percent, and cloud storage and file sharing at 53 percent.”
But the cloud isn’t just for email and file storage anymore; more and more software packages are being offered via the cloud, through software-as-a-service (SaaS) models (Office 365 is an example that most businesses and individuals are familiar with). This delivery method ensures that your software is always up-to-date, accessible from anywhere, and compatible across any platform or browser. SaaS programs also are typically more intuitive than many legacy software programs and likely include technical support. And while SaaS is generally priced on a subscription basis, it can end up being more cost-effective in the long run.
In short, Forbes reports that “business customers are fully embracing the cloud as the best and most-capable approach toward digital transformation.” Should you be among them?
2. Think about what you can automate.
If your work includes any repetitive, mindless, or mundane yet detail-oriented tasks, this might be your year to finally automate them. Today’s sophisticated software and ever-growing artificial intelligence capabilities make this easier than ever.
To be clear, automation and AI are not the same, though some tools use them together. What’s the key difference? As VentureBeat explains, “automation is software that follows pre-programmed rules,” while AI “is designed to simulate human thinking.” True AI doesn’t just follow rules that you give it—it actually learns for itself.
NPR reports that “current technology is replacing roughly 2 percent of a lawyer’s total workload each year,” especially in legal document review for discovery. Is 2018 the year you enhance your business’s overall efficiency by automating tasks or implementing AI solutions?
3. Consider other ways you could improve your employees’ quality of life.
Oh, you thought this post was just about technology? It is! However, we’re keenly aware that quality of life is important, especially in an increasingly millennial workforce. This generation places greater value on work-life balance and less on financial wealth. If you want your firm or business to stay relevant and attractive to all generations, visibly improving the quality of your employees’ lives is a great step to take.
The good news is that technology can provide unexpected improvements in employees’ quality of life. Technology—such as cloud applications—can enable more home- or other remote-working arrangements. Automation minimizes the time your employees have to spend on repetitive, frankly boring tasks—freeing their time up for the more interesting human component of their work. In addition, technology offers ways to improve collaboration and teamwork and enhance communications, both of which improve how your employees feel about their work.
At Litera Microsystems, we’re looking forward to 2018. How can we help you implement technology to make the most of the new year?