5 Essential Steps to Bring Your Business into the 21st Century

Time stands still for no man and the same is true for the world of business. Companies that fail to move with the times will eventually be left behind, but the process of change is a gradual one – it certainly doesn’t happen overnight.

What’s more, this change can be unexpected or overdue and often relates to cultural, technological and social developments. Businesses must react to these changes in their own way, but there are a number of broad developments that are taking place right now. For the modern business, it is vital that they are, at the very least, aware of the below trends, and for many companies it will be essential that they embrace them.

Look to the cloud

The term “cloud computing” can be traced, in its modern sense at least, back to 1996 and in those twenty-odd years the technology has come to be vitally important for many businesses. Cloud computing essentially refers to the process of sharing and accessing computer resources remotely over a network connection, most commonly the internet. For many businesses this has been revolutionary.

Instead of having to build your own data center, businesses can instead store information with a third-party cloud provider. Instead of having to build their own bespoke software, they can get an external developer to build, maintain and upgrade it, all while accessing it remotely. Staff, instead of being chained to their desks, can access work files and software wherever they are and whenever they need to.

In terms of flexibility, collaboration, affordability and reliability, the move towards cloud computing has brought many benefits to businesses all over the world. If you’re looking to modernize your company, but haven’t yet embraced the cloud, perhaps it’s about time you did.

It’s a data-driven world

Data is being created at an alarming rate and your business could be putting it to good use. Every time you visit a website, every time your phone records your GPS signal and every time you comment on a social media post, you are contributing to your own data profile.

The amount of data being created is so vast, that a whole sub-industry has been created to deal with it called “Big Data.” The market for Big Data is expected to be worth $66.79 billion by 2021 and your business can gain a slice of this very lucrative pie.

By analyzing data about your customers, for example, you can better understand their motivations, as well as their likes and dislikes. This means that you can create bespoke products and services that are based on more than just a gut feeling.

Of course, the rise of data-driven businesses has also come with a few challenges, particularly concerning security. If you are storing customer data, particularly if it is of a personal nature, make sure that you have robust cyber-security in place.

 

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Long overdue equality

Some aspects of business take a long time to change and unfortunately, the gender pay gap remains an issue in the modern world of work. Many businesses, particularly those that are large or growing fast, may not be aware that they are paying their female members of staff less than their male counterparts, but ignorance is not much of an excuse.

External consultants are now available to collect data on your payment policy, analyse it and provide you with a clear recommendation in terms of gender equality. Legal experts can also clarify any questions you may have in terms of your employment processes.

Aside from the moral and legal issues surrounding the gender pay gap, there are a number of other business benefits that stem from fair and equal treatment of your employees. Closing the pay gap helps position your company as one that is well-balanced and rewards hard work based on its own merits. This should make your company more attractive to prospective employees, both male and female.

In the 21st century, there is simply no reason for the gender pay gap to still exist. If you consider your company to be modern and fair, then equal payment is an essential requirement.

Corporate responsibility

At some point in time, businesses, particularly large multi-national corporations, acquired a reputation for being morally bankrupt. This was enough for Google to adopt the mantra, “Don’t be evil,” and a move towards greater corporate responsibility is now being felt across a broad range of industries.

Many companies are now competing against one another to be seen as a force for good in the world, embracing causes like charitable giving and green technologies. This is hugely important because large businesses hold a great deal of influence and financial clout, so their help can have a significant impact. For the most part, their efforts are driven by strong moral and ethical forces, but there are some selfish reasons why companies are becoming more responsible for their actions.

In terms of brand image, corporate responsibility can provide a huge boost. Associating your business with good causes demonstrates that you care about more than just your profits and makes you more attractive to customers and employees alike. As you look to modernize your business, remember the importance of corporate responsibility and the benefits it can provide to your company and the wider world.

New ways of working

Working habits are changing fast and any business that fails to recognize this will soon have a lot of angry employees, quickly followed by a lot of empty desks. As our reliance on digital technologies has increased, members of staff have realized that there is little reason for them to take part in the traditional nine-to-five working day.

Due to smartphones, laptops and the aforementioned cloud computing, members of staff can access many of their work resources remotely. This allows them to cut down on costly, time-consuming commutes and lets them gain a better work-life balance. Although face-to-face interaction will remain important, businesses are now embracing flexible working hours and the many advantages it brings.

Businesses should be aware of the developments that are going on around them, in terms of their industry and society as a whole. Although change isn’t easy, companies that refuse to modernize will surely be left behind.