Failure to adapt to modern innovations and movements can leave any business struggling. Without thinking about the future, you can get trapped in the past, and quickly become outdated. Eventually, you’ll find competitors overtake you as a result, and that’s when you get into real trouble.
Future-proofing your business is simple. There are many tools available to keep your brand relevant and ready for change. These include introducing online faxing, cloud-based software, developing mobile applications, data compliance solutions, and task automation.
The business landscape is always shifting. It’s constantly finding new ways to attract customers and improve the way things work. Failure to keep up with trends, and stay ahead of the curve, means you end up floundering. We’re all familiar with famous examples, such as Blockbuster Video, that couldn’t keep up with the modern world; crashing and burning as a result, with Netflix taking over their crown.
But how do you stop yourself from being the next Blockbuster Video? You look to ways to protect yourself with future-proof business ideas that support survival in our new age of business, and beyond.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that fax is a product of a bygone era, given its prevalence in the mid-to-late 20th century. However, far from being a dead-and-buried communication platform, fax is still alive and thriving to this day, with billions of fax documents sent every year from millions of machines all around the world.
Fax continues to be an important part of many business infrastructures because of the numerous advantages it holds, which includes easy submission of visual files, fast transmissions of records and other essential files, as well as the ability to quickly share legally-binding documents. Despite the value of fax though, fax machines are not supportive of modern work. They are slow, cumbersome and vulnerable to data threats. When looking for future-proof business ideas, getting rid of fax machines is going to be on the list. But, how can you eliminate fax machines if fax is so important?
Switching from fax machines to digital fax helps future-proof your business. It allows you to maintain fax communication — a platform that remains an integral part of many industries and economies and will do for years to come — and update technology to enable work processes that are much more suitable for current business environments. This move also helps protect your business from the upcoming ISDN switch-off by removing reliance on soon-to-be-obsolete landlines.
Modern working is all about flexibility. Businesses are more versatile and spread out than ever before. Why? Because remote work is on the rise, as is the employment of international staff from locations all around the globe. We’re in an age where connectivity isn’t about being in a room with each other — it's more often about coming together in a digital space.
There are many benefits to having such a dynamic workforce, but there are difficulties too. Old-fashioned systems don’t support this modern workflow, so how do you protect your business from problems with things like teamwork and collaboration when colleagues could be working together while in different parts of the country, or even on separate continents?
One of the best future-proof business ideas you can invest in is cloud-based collaboration tools and software. These can be as advanced as specialised industry products like eFax, or as simple as word processors like Google Docs. Cloud services work through offsite management, which means you don’t need to be connected to the same hardware to work together. It makes long-distance collaboration incredibly straightforward, as though you are working in the same office together, even if you are miles apart. As we move further towards a working world that relies on remote connectivity, cloud collaboration is becoming increasingly important for future success.
Recent years have seen a big shift towards the adoption of mobile apps as a consumer experience. Mobile customers are twice as likely to buy using an app than a website. The volume of app downloads is also rising rapidly, and with people spending on average over three hours a day on their phone, being visible and easily accessible on a consumer's smartphone is becoming a critical part of brand awareness.
To stay competitive in the modern business environment, you need a mobile application. When looking for future-proofed business ideas, jumping on the application movement should be a priority for any company. Apps might not be the newest of technology, having been made prominent by Apple over a decade ago, but as they become more wide-spread and cheaper to develop, being without one puts your business at a disadvantage.
In 2018, the world changed. GDPR launched across Europe, with wide-reaching impacts for the rest of the world. Data protection has always been a critical issue for businesses, but following the introduction of the GDPR laws, it became even more significant.
Failure to comply with current regulations can lead to disaster. British Airways was hit by one of the biggest fines in history for compliance issues, and if you thought you were safe being a small business, think again. Many small businesses have fallen afoul of new data protection laws and seen penalties as a result.
The key to remaining on the right side of GDPR is complying with regulations. However, the rules are complicated and with so much data to monitor, it’s all too easy to let things slip. If you want to keep your business safe both now and in the future, you need support. Data compliance software is a tool that can do just that. Designed around the idea of not only protecting data but keeping you aware of your legal responsibilities, it helps you conform to regulations and stay ahead of potential changes to data laws.
The cost of business has steadily increased year-on-year, with Brexit instability not making things any easier. Yet while prices go up, revenue streams fall. Disposable income is down — people are struggling just as businesses are. The very survival of your business could depend on optimising expenses and making sure no money is wasted. Future-proofing might simply be about making the pennies count.
There are lots of things you can do to help make money go further. One such future-proof business idea referenced earlier in this blog is the introduction of digital fax. Cheaper and more reliable than fax machines, it can stamp out unnecessary costs while maintaining essential functionality. But besides digital fax solutions, what else can do this? That idea of being able to do something cheaper is ideal. But no business wants to compromise on quality or operational capability — and cutting costs almost always implies this will be the case.
Automation tools are key to achieving this goal. Examples of automation include virtual assistant technology, which allows you to experience the benefits of a personal assistant through automated software, without the high costs associated with staff completing these actions. Instead, your workforce can be utilised more effectively, with simple and time-consuming tasks absorbed by automation. This allows you to gain maximum ROI from your recruiting investments by enabling staff to focus their skills on more impactful tasks and projects. You may also be able to avoid costly hires althogher.