Information technology has occupied a hallowed seat in the business process today. It is spurring growth more than ever before.
The success of every business depends on certain factors; from targeting the right market, employing the best hands, focusing on realistic goals, utilizing technology to optimize output, to adopting the right business model – the list is endless.
However, Information Technology (IT) provides the only channel to automate the business processes because it essentially provides the tools to solve complex problems, support human efforts, drive the business processes and ensure scalability (and future growth), of the business.
Indeed, as Patrick Gleeson, Ph. D., suggests in his article ‘How Does Technology improve Business;
“In this century, the question isn’t how much can technology improve your business but is it possible to conduct business without relying heavily on technology?”
As such, it is safe to argue that accurate business planning cannot be achieved at the optimum level without IT. Same for effective marketing, global sales, systematic management, and real-time monitoring. As well as instant customer support, and long-term business growth.
In a study of 2,200 companies referred to in Forbes’ Digital Business: How Technology Will Support Growth, the results indicated that digital technology supports an average 58% of their business processes.
However, the Nigerian Small-Businesses (SMEs) network, like other African SME networks, have not fully embraced IT support within its business model.
For instance, in a recent publication in the International Journal of Scientific and Engineering Research by Babandi I. Gumel, Nigeria’s SME sector, which accounts for 97% of the economy and contributing 70% of the job opportunities, have not been able to fully utilize IT tools and infrastructural support and this has had negative impacts on the productivity and growth of these businesses.
There is, thus, the need to remind ourselves of the importance of IT support to business growth. Some of the potential benefits are identified below.
Ease of business processes and its accessibility to users
Business processes span organizational boundaries, linking together people, and information flows. But also systems, and other assets to create and deliver value to customers and constituents.
In the past, without an integrated solution, many business processes were manual and time-consuming.
However, IT infrastructural support systems have helped to improve productivity through streamlining processes and automating workflow. Such support systems include Enterprise Resource Planning software’s (ERPs) and some other business services tools such as Microsoft workflow.
An integrated solution cuts down the amount of duplication of data entry tasks that employees have to manually do.
Resource management is the process by which businesses manage their various resources effectively.
Those resources can be intangible – people and time – and tangible – equipment, materials, and finances. Managing these resources manually can be very hard.
IT has played a vital role in automating such complex problems by introducing user-friendly solutions such as cloud-based ERP solutions.
Now, managers can manage or monitor their organizational resources virtually anywhere in the world by using their personal computer. This of course encompasses laptops, tablets or Smartphones.
This concept has introduced the idea of globalization. Most multinational companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon etc., use these cloud-based solutions to manage their virtual or physical offices and staff worldwide. They do this without having to be physically present.
Information (sometimes referred to as data, trade secrets, know-how etc.) is the most crucial and essential asset for a company regardless of the industry.
As such, its security and protection is the backbone to a company’s smooth operation and existence.
To be successful in the long-term, a business needs to safeguard all the information that contributes to meeting the organization’s goals.
Due to the need to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information both in and out of an organization, IT has provided certain International standard frameworks such as ISO 27001 that is not only about IT security (i.e. firewalls, anti-virus) but also about managing processes, legal protection, managing human resources, physical protections and so on.
These obligations are crucial for businesses which desire rapid growth, and IT support ensures that the growth can be achieved in a secure and structured manner.
In conclusion, the foregoing has identified some potential benefits of IT support in a business model.
In subsequent articles, I hope to show how IT support could be integrated into the business models of different company size – whether by creating in-house IT support team, outsourcing the functionalities, and the desirability of both.
Regardless, IT is a very crucial technology that needs to be embraced by all businesses. Start-ups. particularly, should start thinking about leveraging on IT to improve productivity and growth.
Written by: Oluwabunmi Omotayo Omolade
Oluwabunmi Omotayo Omolade is a First-Class graduate of Computer Science from the prestigious University of Ibadan.
She is a Trainee with Zinox Technologies under the Microsoft-Zinox Tech. Scheme and an avid ‘tech for national development’ enthusiast.