Companies are now using collaboration and technology to assist them in running their businesses.
You only need to look around for a few minutes to realise how companies are now using collaboration and technology to assist them in running their businesses.
The applications of the latest technology have entered the psyche of companies of every size, in every sector. This has enabled step changes to be made that were unthinkable even 20 years ago.
There have been constant developments in collaboration. One of its simplest forms is, of course, networking; where its introduction has delivered improvements in understanding and sharing. The enhanced ability of the two or more parties to work more closely together, consistently delivers major results.
As one member recently remarked at a Chamber event, “The idea behind our collaboration is to create something bigger than the sum of the parts”.
Technology like video-conferencing, the use of voice-over-IP (VoIP), has enabled this business to give people time for important conversations and discussions. There are more opportunities for personal, rather than impersonal contact, using technology.
Your Chamber has pioneered the introduction of VoIP for its Council meetings, so enabling the members to take part in the discussions from remote locations.
Gathering the widest possible range of views and opinions remains the backbone of our regular meetings. It is key requirement. As a result of our initiative, I know of at least four companies who have similarly introduced this innovative method of communication with their customers and suppliers.
The use of video has also taken-off, with more and more SMEs using live and recorded footage to promote their products and services. Likewise, where there are high-tech issues to discuss, a video offers a significant advantage in understanding and appreciation of a particular set of circumstances.
At this level of collaboration, new technology is importantly providing the means for the partners to develop and apply fresh thinking and ideas. Amongst the four companies that I mentioned, I understand that ‘bouncing ideas off each other’ has taken root, as mutual respect and growing relationships have developed.
According to a survey by BSI, 72 per cent of the heads of procurement from the public sector said that collaborative arrangements resulted in their organizations achieving better value for money than could have been achieved alone.
Whilst research from the Confederation of British Industry, confirmed that 99% of all economic activity in the UK is driven by SMEs. And, of even greater significance, by 2020, medium-sized businesses alone, could contribute as much as £20bn – £50bn to the economy.
Fujitsu’s Collaboration Nation research has identified that 53% of SMEs want to work with larger organisations to better serve their customers. Likewise, some 59% of SMEs say that a collaborative approach is essential for innovation; and, 62% say the same for economic growth.
In some cases, it is the new technology itself that stimulates the partnership and collaborative working. Sharing information by the partners offers better value from the combined resources of their facilities, staff, operating systems and related procedures. In this context, both parties will be keen to learn how they can benefit from applying the new technologies. Some of this is also about learning the new skills that will take full advantage of these innovative applications.
The collection of data is now recognised by many SMEs as of paramount importance. It can effectively inform on strategic development, assist in effective marketing and promotion; whilst, providing all-important management information to run and operate the company. Sharing data for the mutual benefit of the partners in a collaborative venture has to be one of the centre-pieces that will hold the relationship together.
Looking closer to home, the Chamber team has been delighted at the overwhelming response by members and local businesses to our events. At each of these events, we are continuing to see closer relationships forming between members.
The Let’s Do Business Expo in June is a typical example. A straw poll conducted in the last two years, provided concrete evidence that many exhibitors and participants are encouraged by the chance to network, share advice, and to learn from others in business. The conducive environment of the Expo contributes to the event and to the benefits that the participants and those attending take away.
‘Getting away from our office environment is a major plus point’, remarked an exhibitor last year. ‘You can sit behind closed doors believing that you are making progress; whilst, in the bigger, wider world, others are making big strides forward. And, you could discover that you are in fact, being left behind’.
‘You need to show your face, enter into conversations, and discussions. They will create new opportunities’.
I welcome feedback and comment on this column and the work and activities of the Chamber. You can contact me at [email protected]
President of Burton and District Chamber of Commerce
Managing Director, Yee Group Limited