Document management and the cloud: The cloud is the single most influential technological advancement over the past few years. The cloud allows for storage and access of data and programs, so using the cloud for document management just makes sense. Most cloud services are scalable, so you can start small and grow as you need to. Using the cloud for document management is also useful in case of a computer crash, power outage or other incident — the cloud is key in any disaster recovery program.
Collaborative tools: A few years ago, if you needed to schedule a meeting between members of two different branches of your business, you were stuck paying for travel costs or dealing with working through a conference call, which can make it hard for you to accomplish anything. However, today, collaborative tools are available that allow you to video chat or work with others directly within a document or website, allowing you to accomplish more in a worldwide marketplace.
Smartphones and tablets: While much work will still be done on desktop and laptop computers, the tablets and smartphones have the power necessary to let employees work on the go, or for you to connect to the office even when you’re out of town or working at home. Mobile applications can accomplish most of the same things that computer software can — if on a slightly scaled back basis.
Speech to text: Not everyone is a speedy typist. Luckily, the speech-to-text programs available today are better than they have ever been in the past. Windows and Mac computers automatically come with a bundled version of the program, as do most smartphones and tablets. Additionally, there are pay programs that have a few additional features or added support for those who want something a bit more advanced.
Remote desktop: One of the easiest ways to access your work files at home or from a computer at another location is with a remote desktop. All you have to do is install a small piece of software on your work computer, then you can access the desktop by connecting to the Internet. This is also a great tool for tech support — allowing your IT team to access computers without necessitating a trip to the office just to repair a simple problem.
Customer contact: Staying in touch with your customers is more complicated than ever before. Your customers want to stay connected on social media, by email and through phone. Luckily, there are a number of programs available that can streamline this communication. Programs like Constant Contact and Hootsuite take the complexity out of social networking, while email programs like Mad Mimi or MailChimp can take care of your email marketing. These programs will make your work communications much more productive. As you can see, there are more ways to harness new technology to accomplish your most difficult tasks than ever before. While not every new technology or gadget will improve efficiency in your office, there are many options to try. Spend some time learning about the newest products and tools and decide which will be best for you. Who knows? You may be able to free up enough time in your schedule to take that vacation you’ve been putting off!