The pace of technological change can be dizzying at times – ten years ago, who among us truly thought that in 2019 we would be able to buy smartwatches, drones and virtual reality headsets on the high street?
There’s a very real possibility that we’ll be taking rides in self-driving taxis before the next decade is out. In fact, in January this year, a Tesla self-driving car ran over a promotional robot in Las Vegas – a ‘sign-of-the-times’ moment you’d find a bit heavy-handed if it appeared in a science fiction novel.
In business, too, there is a constant flow of new products and services that can increase efficiency and, by extension, profits.
Technology can save time that you’d otherwise spend carrying out tedious manual processes, allowing you to dedicate more of your time to the more engaging aspects of running a business.
Here are just a few of the ways technology can help your business work smarter.
If in 1999 you’d told someone you were using Android to store your receipts in the cloud, they might well have thought you a touch eccentric. But these days, it’s those who are hoarding scraps of paper who seem out of step.
Going paperless and storing your files on the cloud can make it easier and quicker to share information within your business, and to keep secure and up-to-date records.
Floods or fires are no longer the disaster they once were, and the days of giving over precious square metres of office space to a server room are coming to an end.
Cloud-based office software has revolutionised collaborative working, making it possible for multiple authors to access key documents from anywhere in the world, on almost any device.
There’s something distinctly futuristic about making last-minute changes to a presentation using Google Slides or Microsoft Office 365, and then casting from your smartphone to a TV at the final destination, swiping through the slides with a flick of the thumb.
From an accounting point of view, Xero is a great example of how cloud software can help you work efficiently, with real-time data and smart reports.
It also makes it easy to share information with whoever needs it, for information or collaboration, while maintaining ultimate control of your data – much better than the days of USB thumb-drives, so easily misplaced or stolen.
Between Star Trek and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, two-way video calls came to be seen as emblematic of the cutting edge.
After many false starts, the technology really took hold with the coming of smartphones, tablet computers, and fast broadband connections.
Free or cheap video-conferencing software, such as Skype, Apple Facetime or Google Hangouts, makes it easy to hold meetings with clients or colleagues on multiple sites, at home, or on the move. It saves on travel costs and means the dream of true flexible working is finally a reality.
A lesser-known feature of video calls, however, is the ability to share screens – especially helpful if your accountant is in Bristol, you’re in Berlin, and you both need to look at the same set of numbers at the same time.
The more processes you can automate, the more time you can spend on tasks that are more important, and ultimately more valuable to your business.
One real breakthrough in recent years has been the development of electronic point of sale (EPOS) systems that interface seamlessly with stock control systems, giving instant readouts of low stock, and making stocktaking easier and faster, among other benefits.
One of the smartest features of Xero is its built-in automatic invoicing, which makes it possible to schedule payment reminders at set intervals, and to set up repeating invoices.
Tying everything together
Finally, by using the right technology you can connect up the different areas of your business, and transfer data seamlessly from one software product to another. You can link up your accounting process with scheduling, e-commerce and more using Xero add-ons.
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We can help you save time with smarter working using Xero. Get in touch to find out more.