New technologies are playing an increasingly important role in the business world today. Development in both hardware and software (the two always go hand-in-hand) is forever providing businesses with more advanced solutions that is making people and businesses more effective and more efficient.
Improved efficiency and time management are the cornerstones of every business, so any product that can improve either one will ultimately improve business.
Hardware and software innovations
Technology is becoming entrenched both in our personal and our business lives. The revolution started with the simple pager that allowed a person to be contacted from any location, long before the mobile telephone was ever invented. Although now an archaic device by today’s standards, the pager set a new precedent – technology was able to remotely connect people to their businesses.
The early mobile phones were a logical extension of the pager, and today every business person carries a smartphone that allows them to check emails, manage a calendar and review documents while working away from the office.
Ever since the first home computers were built, businesses have been able to take advantage of new software to improve workflows and efficiencies.
Accounting software packages were one of the first software innovations that hugely benefited small businesses, as they spelled an end to the manual, handwritten accounts and replaced them with computer databases that could gather company data to calculate profit and loss at unbelievable speeds.
Microsoft is possibly accountable for creating the most widely used business support software. MS Word and Excel are used universally to produce company documents, letters, reports and memos.
During the 1980s, business secretaries would have to type out each letter by hand on headed paper, and any documents that needed to be duplicated would have to be taken to the local printers who would operate industrial photocopies. The development of the affordable laser printer changed this industry forever.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
One of the newer developments that are helping businesses to become more productive and more competitive is enterprise resource planning (ERP). This computer system gathers data from around a company that is stored in a central database. The information is then used to run complex management reports that can be used to identify peaks and troughs in production so that resources can be managed more effectively.
ERP has moved on rapidly over the last decade and now incorporates all business areas. ERP essentially had two major periods of growth. The first systems relied on bespoke computer systems running within a business that had to be maintained by IT technicians. These systems were extremely expensive to install, and often ERP projects would fail to be launched due to incompatibility with existing legacy systems that could not be updated.
The second is the move to the cloud, which has eliminated the main stumbling block of using ERP; businesses no longer need to invest in expensive computer hardware. Today, ERP providers run the software on their own servers, and these are accessed over the internet by clients.
Of course, this cloud based software solution is only possible with other IT hardware improvements, namely improvements in internet connectivity. Without stable and fast internet connections via broadband and fast mobile networks, businesses would not be able to access cloud based ERP solutions; so once again, hardware developments are behind the advancements in business software solutions.