If your company is not actively engaged in your trust dynamics, you may be missing out on opportunities to grow.
Our world has gone digital. There's no denying that the Internet and big data have taken over businesses small to large, resulting in an ever-increasing reliance on digital platforms across all business types. And while our digital landscape has provided businesses with unprecedented opportunities to grow and expand, it also comes with inherent risks as data is bought, sold and stolen by corporations and cyber criminals alike. As a result, companies are being forced to consider their digital risk profile, and whether they've cultivated a healthy level of digital trust among clients and suppliers alike.
Digital trust is the level of confidence users have in your ability to keep their data safe and secure. As our reliance on IT systems continues to grow, these systems become fundamental to the success of our businesses. And because of this, you, your shareholders and your customers need to trust that your technology won't fail them.
Last year the business world was rocked by a number of high profile security leaks. WannaCry ran rampant across the globe, compromising even government operations and data. The names Equifax and Deloitte may immediately lead you to think of broken trust and high risk data exposures. These instances not only negatively impacted the business' bank accounts, they bankrupted their digital trust.
“Trust has become essential in the digital age. It must underpin how you organise and run your business so that you can be successful. With high profile international debates on data privacy and security it’s not difficult to see why.”
– Grant Waterfall
There are several factors that determine the level of digital trust a customer has in your business. As they interact with your business and your business systems, they will (usually) unconsciously determine whether you can be trusted in the following areas:
The Security of Your Systems: Are your customers confident that your systems will protect their data, identity and privacy? Have potential issues been addressed?
The Transparency of Your Company: Are you transparent in how you collect and use data? Is there concern that the data you collect is being sold behind consumers' backs to other companies who may abuse it?
Control Over Data: Do you allow your customers to control how much or how little data you collect from them? Do you give them the option of which services and benefits they receive and which they want to refuse?
A recent study by the European digital experience company Orange shows that 78% of consumers feel it is hard to trust companies when it comes to the way they use consumer data. They believe that organizations have not only failed in their ability to protect personal data, but a high percentage believe that organizations regularly profit from sharing or selling their data.
This breakdown in trust among consumers makes building digital trust even more important for businesses who rely on customer data to operate. So how do you begin to build your customer's digital trust?
Ensure Your Systems Work: When users routinely encounter issues when accessing your online systems their level of trust in your company begins to erode. Ensure maximum uptime and functionality to build the foundation of trust.
Be Transparent: Tell consumers from the start what data you collect and how it is used. Explain how their personal information is protected and what steps you're taking to avoid system failure or data breaches.
Provide Customers with Options: Give your users control over how much information they share. If home addresses or phone numbers are not necessary, allow them to opt out of providing that information. And be certain that all of your communications are relevant and wanted. Users should be able to opt out of email notifications unless it's vital to the functionality of your system.
Monitor Your Risk Profile: By monitoring your risk profile you will be better equipped to handle any new digital threats that arise. You are able to shift your business processes or systems to reduce risks as they arise, and you are able to quickly communicate with your consumers about any potential threats or threat resolutions.
Remember You're Dealing with People: It's easy to get caught up in the enormity of big data and lose sight of the fact that there are real people behind the numbers. But people want to feel recognized and valued, so when communicating with consumers, remember that their rapport with your company will strongly influence the trust they have in the services you provide. Treat them like people, not just another number in your database.
Developing digital trust with your consumers has never been more important than it is now. By harnessing the power of personal data your business has the opportunity to tailor services and processes to your consumers' needs - creating a more rewarding experience for them and your business at the same time. If you're interested in learning how your business can leverage consumer data while cultivating a high level of digital trust, Spud Software is here to help. Give us a call or visit our website to learn more about how we help our customers succeed.
If you're looking to grow your business, automation may be the key.
It's been said that in order to grow you have to embrace change. For businesses, that can be a scary concept. Why change what has worked for the last decade (or two)? But if your business is looking to grow, change may be exactly what you need. And if your company is still running on paper processes or manual spreadsheets, automation may just be the key to your future success.
As software developers, we see the need for automation more than just about anything else. We recently had a company come to us with a variety of complex processes that they were managing manually with paper and spreadsheets. They wanted to grow their business by expanding into new markets, but their process was so labor intensive that they wouldn't be able to handle the added demands on employees' time unless something changed.
That's where automation comes in. By automating processes, a company can save time as a system handles menial tasks, freeing up employees to focus on value-add processes and person-to-person interactions that drive the business forward. This makes the entire company more productive and profitable.
In addition to increased productivity, some of the lesser known but important benefits of automation are:
Clearly Defined Processes:
Before we ever begin development on a software solution, we meet with the key operators in a company to fully define their organization's processes. This not only ensures that the software we develop works toward the company's goals, it also provides employees with a clear road map for their day-to-day processes. Clearly defined processes provide employees with consistency and efficiency throughout their operations, and having documented processes built into your software solution makes on-boarding new employees easier as your organization grows.
Reducing Human Error:
So many of an employees daily tasks are repetitive and these repetitive tasks lend themselves to human error. By automating these processes, your company can reduce the risk of data entry errors and ensure that data is entered in the proper sequences within pre-defined parameters, and that required information is never missed.
Efficient Use of Time:
Ditching the paper trail in favor of automation not only reduces the possibility for human error, but it also makes your employees more efficient. Many of our clients have technicians working out in the field, carrying around paper forms that they fill out on site, then transfer to spreadsheets when they return to the office. What a waste of time! They're doing the same data entry twice, meaning they have less time to focus on customer satisfaction. By automating their processes, they're able to reduce the amount of data entry time required for each job, and increase the amount of time they spend focused on customers.
Improved Information Organization:
Consider all of those technicians who enter data into separate client spreadsheets, and the amount of time and energy required to maintain the information and make it accessible to other departments. When you automate your processes, all of your most important data is stored in a single location, making it not only easier to access specific information whenever necessary, but also ensuring that the data is current for all users. This helps your company not only save time, but improve overall accuracy.
Whether you're thinking about automating your processes, or you're ready to take the leap, Spud Software is here to partner with you. And if you want to learn more about how we've used automation to help our clients succeed, check out the case studies on our website.
New is not always better.
It may come as a surprise to hear that we think not all system upgrades are a good thing. What is an "upgrade" to one person spells "headache" to another. That doesn't mean you should continue to work with outdated software or avoid updating your system all together, it just means that when you are looking to overhaul your applications, it's important to keep your end user in mind.
For example, last week the developers at Snapchat rolled out a new version of their popular app that has users complaining about the changes in functionality. The overhaul is part of the company's effort to separate personal and commercial use of the app, but it has so far met with user frustration and push back. In fact, over 600,000 users signed the "Remove the new Snapchat update" petition asking the company to return to the older version of the app.
“This petition aims to help convince Snap Inc to change the app back to the basics, before this new 2018 update," the petition reads.
"Many users have found that it has not made the app easier to use but has in fact made many features more difficult... There is a general level of annoyance among users and many have decided to use a VPN app to go back to the old Snapchat, as that’s how annoying this new update has become."
While the motives behind Snapchat's upgrade are good, and could prove profitable for the company, the initial effect of the change is user outrage as the dramatic revisions pushed users out of their comfort zones and are forcing them to re-learn how the app functions.
Snapchat's target demographic, users in their teens and early 20's, are usually pretty adaptable when it comes to learning new technology, but as this week's outcry proves, most users still are not comfortable with a drastic change to the way things have always been done.
So how does that translate to your company and its software applications?
Keeping your users happy doesn't mean you have to avoid changing your system or its interface. Changes are a necessary part of business - growth is change. But if you're looking into developing a new software solution or redesigning an existing application, it's important to keep your end users in mind. How does their work flow? What process steps have they come to expect? How can you incorporate new technology without alienating your employees or customers? Addressing these questions is vital before you even begin to develop a new or updated application.
Clarify the Need:
What is the purpose behind your upgrades or redesign? Be sure you understand why you're making a change and how this change will benefit your users.
Define the Process Flow:
If your users are accustomed to following a certain process when using your software, be sure to keep that in mind as you determine what to change in your system. Understand the hows and whys of the way users interact with your software. If you can get actual users involved in the "define" process, it will help you better understand how your software is being used and what your users' needs really are. Then update your system to improve upon the process flow, not impede it.
Don't Over-complicate the Process
When your users are used to having core features accessible with the touch of a single button, don't bury those features under multiple layers of functionality in a new design. Don't add unnecessary steps to the system for design sake, or to show off "cool" capabilities. Users are more interested in how your application works than they are in animations or trendy designs.
Don't Make Changes for the Sake of Change:
If users are accustomed to pressing a red button with an arrow on it to advance to the next level, don't suddenly change the button to a yellow button with a star simply to make the screen "different." This will confuse and frustrate users, and there's no point in frustrating your users unnecessarily. It's totally acceptable to update color schemes, icons, etc., but do it in a way that is intuitive and improves the user experience.
When Possible, Introduce Changes Incrementally:
We understand that not every business can afford to roll out software in stages, but sometimes it's a great, and cost effective, way to introduce changes to your employees or customers. It's easier to accept change in smaller steps than to adjust to a completely different experience all at once.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate:
When you're preparing to roll out a new system, don't surprise your users with a sudden change. Communicate the purpose for the redesign, the plans behind it and any functionality changes that will affect the way users interact with the system. Explain to them the benefits of the change and how it will improve their overall usage. Then provide instructional tools and support for your users to make the transition as seamless as possible.
At Spud Software, we believe change is a good thing. Improving your processes and software applications can bring great benefits to your company, but it's important to keep your users in mind before you ever begin development. That's why we offer the "Define. Design, Develop, Deliver." process - to provide you with solutions that are tailored to your company's needs and expectations. So if you're looking to upgrade your system without upsetting your users, give us a call! We'd love to help you define and develop an application that your users will be excited to use.
Is your software in need of modernization?
Retro is back in. Polaroid cameras have become all the rage, and records are flying off the shelves as hipsters scour antique shops for vintage record players in a quest to make old things new. Even Atari has recently released a flashback video game console loaded with such classics as Centipede, Space Invaders and Pitfall in all their pixelated glory. While we don't mind embracing a bit of retro fun now and then, when it comes to running your business, your software should be anything but vintage.
Sometimes it seems like technology changes overnight, and it's hard to keep up with the latest and greatest, especially on a budget. But that doesn't mean you should cling to a software solution just because it "kinda still works" or "we've just always used this program." Because your legacy system may actually be hurting your business more than it's helping.
Here are some of the top ways outdated software may be hurting your business:
Wasting Valuable Time:
Is your current system cumbersome? Does it take forever to perform a simple task, or crash on a regular basis? Are your employees resorting to paper solutions or bypassing the system all together? It's time to consider updating your software.
If you don't think legacy software is such a big deal, consider this: your software solution makes employees wait 3 minutes to run a report or save a file. If you have 20 employees waiting 3 minutes for a process to run, and they do this 4 times a day, that's 240 minutes (4 hours!) spent waiting on your software every day. What's more, that's over 43 wasted workdays every year - just waiting for your system to function properly.
Extensive Training Required:
Computer skills are expected in the modern workforce. Most people have at least rudimentary computing capabilities (thanks in large part to social media). But is your system so outdated that it requires extensive training to learn how to use it? If a new employee has to use keyboard shortcuts or sift through an interface that is not intuitive to modern users, it's not doing your business any favors. In fact, it could be driving people away. This makes onboarding new employees (and losing existing employees) an expensive undertaking for your business.
It Creates More Problems Than It Solves:
Being able to adapt your business processes to the current market is vital to ensuring your business growth, but your software solution may be keeping you from doing just that. If your employees have to find complex work-arounds to make your new process work with your existing software, you are not only wasting valuable time, but your business is losing money. Inaccurate reports abound, data is missing for key metrics, you target the wrong market because you have no way to track results in real time. Your software solution should work with you, not against you. But outdated, unsupported software usually creates more problems for your company than it solves.
Your System is Device Dependent:
Are your employees tied to the machines at their desks to get work done? Can they access your software in the field or on the go as needed? Do they have to use paper and pen on-site, and then transfer the data to a computer when they get back in the office? If your software solution requires your employees to use a specific device (especially one running an old operating system) your software is not retro, it's outdated.
It Requires Excessive Hardware:
Speaking of device dependent solutions, most outdated systems require excessive hardware to keep running. Rather than switching to a reliable cloud-based solution that is available anywhere, outdated software usually requires companies to have in-house server environments and complex applications to keep running. And the cost of housing, updating and maintaining old servers can quickly become unreasonable in light of modern hosting solutions.
It may seem like you're saving money by sticking with a legacy software solution, but when you sit down and count the cost in time, energy and resources wasted, and you consider the opportunities you may be missing because of this, it makes sense to invest in your company's future by upgrading the software that runs your business.
So is your business being held hostage by outdated software? If you are struggling with any of the challenges of "retro" technology, we're here to help. We can design and develop a software solution that actually works for your company instead of against it. For more information, visit our website or feel free to give us a call at 810-695-0001.