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7 Ways to Leverage Your IT Investments to Improve Your Bottom Line

November 1, 2006 – IT may be a daunting task to some, but with a few adjustments you can have your IT work for you and not the other way around. Many companies view IT as an overhead cost, often times these companies are the same ones that react to IT problems when they happen - instead of thinking of the big picture. Your IT can be a driving force to gain profitability and increase productivity. Your edge is gaining the insight on how to think proactively and leverage your IT to improve your bottom line.

1. Business Intelligence How well do you know your own business? BI is having access to current data about how your company is performing in designated key performance areas. Digital dashboards are often utilized … data is pulled from various sources, with the dashboard containing concise reports on each critical area your business must execute, and where you are vs benchmarks. President of DynaSis Complete IT David Moorman comments, “Reporting on performance measurements is key in reaching your goals for adding profit and reducing overhead costs. At the end of the day, information is what is going to get you ahead of your competitors.” For example, wouldn’t it be nice to predict the amount of inventory you need months in advance simply by tracking your sales pipeline, thus reducing unnecessary warehouse costs or taxes? BI is usually “real-time” or very close to it, providing you the critical information required to make solid business decisions. Reports focus on profits, customer satisfaction, efficiency, inventory, sales, productivity and more.
2. Software Integration Software integration is basically allowing two different software packages to exchange data per your specific requirements. Automating routine processes and eliminating redundant data entry are a couple of items that fall under software integration. Consider this scenario: your customers currently order your product by phone, requiring a dedicated professional to stop what they are doing and take orders. Why not simplify this process by implementing an e-commerce website, where clients can easily browse and purchase online? Integrating an e-commerce web site with your accounting software can automatically create invoices and post payments for orders placed online. This eliminates data entry required to keep your accounting data up to date, freeing up time for more productive activities.

3. Create an Extranet An Extranet is a secure web site designed to serve your customer base as an extension of traditional customer service efforts. Permission-based user management ensures that each customer has access to only their company information, and not another company’s. In addition, access levels dictate which reports or functionality each user has access to. These sites are great for streamlining and automating routine processes, and providing for efficient information exchange between you and your customer. Using an Extranet can help your clients access data and services easily, reducing the time you and your employees spend answering questions- allowing you to focus on your core responsibilities.
4. Internet Marketing Internet marketing consists of a variety of ways to gain new and repeat customers for your business via your website. Internet marketing includes: email marketing, affiliate programs, link exchanges, and banner advertising. One of the most effective methods is known as search engine marketing. With search engine marketing, you research which "keywords" your prospective customers use to find your products or services in the search engines. As long as people are actively searching for your products or services online, search engine marketing is superior to traditional forms because the audience is coming to you and has a current need for your product or service, allowing you to increase online sales or convert online leads to sales. Search engine marketing also allows you to measure the effectiveness of your website at converting visitors to sales. Lachlan Brown, SEM Director for DynaSis commented, “Internet marketing in its various forms is an extremely effective form of marketing that results in bottom line return on investment. With it you can put your message in front of your target audience at the exact time they are looking for information, and you can track the return in a precise way not possible with traditional, offline marketing."

5. Outsourcing Your IT Several benefits are available for firms that choose to hire an outside IT service provider rather than an in-house professional. With an outsourced company you gain a larger knowledge base of professionals that hold a wide array of certifications, while an in-house IT professional has limited knowledge and resources. An outside company also lets your valued employees who may have other job responsibilities focus on core competencies. Those professionals can now be dedicated to tasks the increase profitability instead of spending their time on IT problems. Lastly, the costs associated with downtime if an in-house professional is sick or on vacation increases, not to mention benefits costs, while an outside company has many employees capable of overseeing your account.
6. Software as a Service An ASP or Application Service Provider model can help reduce unnecessary costs while ensuring your software and hardware are maintained and up-to-date. In an ASP model, all your software and files can be fed over an Internet connection; data is safely stored and backed up. The cost of the service includes software and hardware that is hosted on the provider’s site, so you are always guaranteed the latest versions without upgrading or patching; licensing hassles are also eliminated. Companies benefit from a per user charge or bandwidth charge for the entire service with costs directly relating to the size of the workforce in the event of growth or downsizing.

7. Disaster Recovery While this form of technology may be more preventative in nature, thinking ahead to safeguard your digital assets may save your company itself, not to mention money. Backing up your data to begin with is crucial to disaster recovery, as losing confidential client records or employee data can be detrimental. Using tape drives to store company data is not as reliable as it once was due to advances and price breaks in disk to disk solutions which allow for real time recoveries.
Other techniques like off-site data backup at a secure data center can reduce your risk of data loss due to disasters that occur on your site. Andy Dunlop, an expert in data protection and disaster recovery for DynaSis Complete IT says, "Often people don't realize how much they have invested in their data until they don't have it. When recognizing the cost of data loss, it quickly comes to light that a good regular backup is essential to any IT infrastructure. Whether a single spreadsheet is accidentally deleted or a natural disaster destroys your file servers, you can recover if you have copies of the data; and by having copies at diverse locations, you can ensure you are prepared for a crisis."

Using techniques like those listed above will create a mind set of proactivity. IT will no longer be a hindrance to business, but it will help streamline processes to make your company money and impact your bottom line. For more information contact DynaSis Complete IT Solutions at 770.569.4600.

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