Being able to deliver a quality service, in as little time, and using as few resources as possible. That’s the name of the game when it comes to operational efficiency.

Businesses were exploring uses of technology to improve this even before Covid-19 turned the world upside down. But in a post-pandemic world, it’s now an even more pressing concern. Companies without the technological foundation to compete risk losing both employees and customers to those who can offer more enjoyable, flexible and efficient services.

Of course, that begs the question…

Why is technology important for productivity?

Almost every business can benefit from modern technology. Whether it’s the humble greengrocer optimising their supply chain, or multinational corporations improving cross-team collaboration and project management, technology can bridge distance gaps, automate manual labour, and generally make processes much more efficient and secure.

Here, we’ll explore some of the ways you could be using technology to improve operational efficiency and keep your business ahead of the pack.

1. Work together from anywhere

Possibly the top tech trend to drive operational efficiency in your business, remote working rose to prominence during the pandemic – and it’s here to stay.

In fact, in a 2020 survey by Buffer, 98% of respondents who’d been working remotely through the pandemic said they’d prefer to continue to do so, at least some of the time. And 97% said they’d recommend working remotely to others.

For many businesses, remote working has been aided by migrating their systems to the cloud, and using digital communication tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom video conferencing. Some have gone even further, moving to in-house software that empowered them to work from home with no loss of efficiency – internally, or for customers.

One such example is the world’s leading learning company, Pearson, for whom we built a digital asset management data hub to replace ageing legacy systems. Thanks to our cloud-based solution, the company’s 22,500+ employees and trusted partners could access and modify the learning materials they needed in the middle of the pandemic, allowing the business to streamline its processes and improve efficiency, even during extended lockdowns.

2. Deliver campaigns more effectively

Delivering an effective sales or marketing campaign means using metrics to define the right audience, crafting compelling messaging, pricing products or services competitively and selecting the proper channels (often more than one) to target with eye-catching creative. It’s a multi-stage operation often involving many skilled professionals and a significant financial outlay – so the more efficient it runs, the better for the business.

A great example of a business using technology to improve operational efficiency in this area is a project we recently worked on with UK marketing services business Augustus Martin. They work with retailers to help them deliver campaigns. We helped them build a brand-new campaign platform called YourStore that worked on both desktops and mobile devices – allowing their employees to use it from anywhere.

3. Manage your reporting in real-time

Adopting digital transformation to improve operational efficiency is something of a no-brainer when your business uses traditional, paper-heavy manual methods of working.

That was certainly the case for regulatory fund monitoring service Thornbridge, for whom we created a bespoke real-time reporting portal. This allowed the company to communicate with appointed representatives easily, manage their AR’s regulatory obligations from a centralised system, and even empowered their AR’s to submit expenses in a less time-consuming manner. All while ensuring compliance with strict Financial Conduct Authority standards.

4. Speed up submissions (while boosting security)

From recruitment to lettings and the arts to government gateways, many businesses rely on users being able to submit documents as part of lengthy approval processes. Technology can speed up that process no end, while also adding extra layers of security – making the process more operationally efficient all around.

Take our work with i-Cert. With our help, they now offer a one-stop online support service that helps organisations to prepare, create and submit export documents electronically. With omissions and mistakes in these documents potentially costing iCert’s clients heavily, the web application we built allows the team at i-Cert to guide their customers through the complex document preparation and submission process, while also giving them the transparency to track and manage the progress of submissions from a central system. Another excellent example of a business using technology to improve operational efficiency.

5. Enhance your data management and improve collaboration

When an organisation operates in many locations across different departments, centralising that myriad information in one system can drastically improve operational efficiency.

And when that organisation is a charity, working with highly vulnerable people, the need feels somehow even more significant.

For the Scottish Huntington’s Association, that meant building a health case management system to help over 5,000 people living with Huntingdon’s Disease in Scotland to manage their symptoms and get appropriate care.

We worked with them to design a system known as GEORGE, which records where and how families use the charity’s services and the impact those services have – in a way never previously possible for the charity.

Intuitive to use and able to generate complex reports in minutes, GEORGE allows the teams at SHA’s 12 different locations to work together like never before, making it a fantastic example of how technology can improve operational efficiency.

6. Automate your first-line customer communications

Another of the top tech trends to drive operational efficiency in your business is the use of A.I.-powered chatbots. Operating as a first-line digital assistant, they’re able to direct enquiries to pre-existing FAQ pages, and where needed, connect customers or leads with the correct departments. This can help companies save on over-staffing expensive customer service departments, and improve the efficiency of each person-to-person customer service interaction.

This also has the added benefit of allowing certain businesses to adopt a modern omnichannel approach. Omnichannel creates a unified experience for customers across web, social, app and physical touchpoints, making those businesses statistically more likely to attract and retain customers. And the higher your return on investment (ROI), the more operationally efficient your business becomes.

7. Improve your in-person customer service

Remote communications aren’t the only form of customer care that technology can add finesse to. Our work with activeNewham shows how using a new check-in system powered by self-service kiosks can:

  • Reduce foyer waiting times – and customer frustration with it
  • Improve the customer journey by funnelling customers through physical spaces more efficiently
  • And make it easier for those customers to book future classes.

This particular project not only shows how working with a technology partner can help businesses in the sports and leisure sector transform their operations, but it’s also a fantastic example of how physical service-based businesses can use digital transformation to improve operational efficiency.

How could technology help your business efficiencies?

At DCSL GuideSmiths, we’re ideally placed to partner with businesses the length and breadth of Britain, to transform their working practices.

We’ve decades of experience using technology to streamline processes, maximise efficiency, and in the process, reach new audiences for game-changing products and services.

If you have an idea in mind, or just want to talk to someone who can help you decide on the best digital transformation route for your organisation, we can help. Visit our digital transformation for enterprises page for more details, or get in touch to discuss your needs in person.