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Flexing Your Internet Muscle

September 13, 2018

Connecting to the online intelligence and tools available to your business can change the way you interact with customers, vendors, and employees.

Can you increase productivity by allowing employees to telecommute part time? How do you convert new collaboration models into platforms for encouraging innovation and intrapreneurship—not just among employees, but with vendors and even customers? What structures can you create to identify and cultivate leadership talent, invite input and ideas from throughout the organization, and engage your entire team—anywhere they’re located—in uncovering and pursuing new opportunities for growth? You can do all of that. Here’s how:

  • Tap the cloud. “It’s really beneficial to have cloud-based tools that everybody can tap, like a common scheduling toolset or a common project management toolset,” says Gordon Feller, founder of the San Francisco-based international nonprofit Meeting of the Minds. “That’s not just because I can access the tool from anywhere, anytime, on any network, via any device. I can also tap into the knowledge that sits in my organization.” He notes that companies traditionally lost shared, accumulated knowledge each time an employee took a new job or retired, but “now I can pool and tap that knowledge to take advantage of all the effort that’s preceded me.”
  • Use customer data intelligently. Companies are going to have to become smart about how they use the data they collect in interactions with customers. Privacy is a concern, “and you’ve got to figure out how to manage through that creepiness factor,” says George Westerman, principal research scientist at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and faculty director of the self-directed online course Internet of Things: Business Implications and Opportunities. The message you communicate must focus on service offered and benefits delivered to customers.
  • Embrace apps. You’re familiar with apps that facilitate document sharing, team messaging, collaboration, and project management. But have you checked out some of the solutions that bring all these elements together, (e.g., Airtable, Front, Hive, Huddle, and Liquid Planner)?

Many of these solutions are still moving toward accessibility and applicability at a scale that makes sense for small business. But by gaining knowledge of their capabilities now, you establish the foundation for ensuring that your company has the intelligence it needs to compete and to ensure that its competitiveness and capabilities can scale for the long term.

Read the Leverage the Internet to Own Your Operations guide to learn more about the tools and resources available that can help take your business to the next level.

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