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A Publication of WTVP

Today, as the economy seems to be taking a sustainable uptick, we foresee several key initiatives in 2005 as firms are finally making the investments to improve their operations with investment in changing business processes and technology.

  • Wireless Integration/Mobility Solutions. This is a key opportunity for any firm that has a mobile workforce and has the driver of improving productivity. The speed of turning around e-mails and customer correspondence while on the road can save time, increase customer satisfaction, and increase sales. Today, in addition to getting e-mails, your staff can even get your key applications on a mobile platform, cell phone, Blackberry, or PDA. Many industries can benefit: utilities, insurance, distribution, service, businesses, legal, etc. This, to me, is the single best opportunity for 2005.
  • Automated Workflow. We're seeing clients take to automation of approvals, new product cycle, expenses, time sheets, and HR information. Passing paper is simply wasting time and money. This is a low investment in many cases and a very quick ROI. A workflow system can reduce paper, errors, manual input, and time.
  • Integration of data and business processes. Integration is in-enter customer data one time, and have it flow all the way through the organization. In most organizations today, redundant data is in many different places within an organization. We recently worked with clients that have 20 or more disparate systems with customer data. They recognize the movement to one consistent business process and one database will save millions of dollars over the next few years.
  • Business Process Optimization. Lots of organizations have been challenged by manual processes or variations in current processes. Many times, the answer is, "We have always done it that way." Optimization means finding a way to streamline process and reinvent the way processes are completed. Techniques such as 6 Sigma can be used to identify improved quality, reduce variations, and lower cycle time. Without optimizing your business processes, your firm always will have what we call a "linear growth model," which means if sales grows 10 percent, your cost of operations also will grow close to 10 percent. That really isn't optimal growth. Your goal is to grow and not have to increase operational overhead or expenses. To inspect how you're doing, try a very simple formula: revenue divided by employees/staff. Then, compare that to the last five years and to the industry.
  • Consolidation. Companies that have been acquiring other businesses have several long-term operational opportunities on the table until the economy rebounds. Now is the time to consolidate and start seeing the benefits. We have several clients with multiple e-mail systems, multiple ERPs, CRMS, or document management systems. In the long run, consolidating now will save significant dollars, as the total cost of ownership for an integrated system is always less than having several heterogeneous environments to support.

    Make one of these a New Year's resolution, and watch the value of your business grow. IBI

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