The postal service, radio, telephone, television and, more recently, the electronic media have radically altered the way that organizations conduct business nowadays.
Each technology has provided different means of reaching final customers that have varied from mail order catalogues, inbound and outbound telemarketing, direct response advertising involving coupons and “phone now” appeals and, more recently, electronic media that include the internet, e-mail and marketing databases.
At the Office
Technology has changed the face of the office. Not only are office workers more productive, but office equipment is being consolidated; it is more environment-friendly and more efficient.
One of the leading office equipment suppliers, Image Systems Ltd (Malta) has proven that over the past five years we have moved from an analogue machine to a digital machine. The digital machine today is fully networkable, more reliable with fewer mechanical parts. With the digital technology has come an improvement in laser technology so, less toner is being used, and a better toner that is more environment-friendly.
The latest machines from Xerox, marketed in Malta by Image Systems, are multi-function productivity centres that integrate scanning, faxing, printing and photocopying in a single unit thus reducing costs for extra equipment and also reducing the ‘lack of space’ problem. Therefore for a company to invest in such products is almost a must in order to keep to date with standards with competitors, reduce costs and reproducing both efficient and effective work at faster rates.
E-mail is one of the most persuasive media available today. It reaches us at work and at home, and since we are accustomed to dealing with e-mails as soon as they come in, they also elicit immediate response. To top all this, e-mail is very cost-effective. Therefore its not a surprise that e-mail marketing is one of the most used tools on the Net. A large number of companies have their own e-mail address in order to be reached not only through the normal use of telephone or fax mediums.
Consider for instance MaltaNet (one of the leading internet service providers in Malta) sending off email notifications to its subscribers to inform them of new offers and of their account expiry and thus making easy direct contact with its customers.
The use of e-mails nowadays has increased immensely up to an extend that in order to make a flight reservations by Airmalta for instance this can be done solely by the use of corresponding e-mails.
It is therefore a tool to use in nowadays business because you can reach a large number of customers both at work and at home where distance it is not a problem (locally or internationally), it is fast and not expensive, and which can be comfortably sent and received through any computer, laptop, palm top or even mobiles.
Internet – Online Classified Ads
All over the world, government organisations and business entities both small and large evaluate opportunities brought about by the internet, in search of ways to enhance their business processes. Companies use the internet to make their products available round the clock, to communicate with suppliers, to perform market research, to device methods so as to gain first mover advantage by adopting new technology and where possible to reduce overheads and costs. Consider for instance hotels who have their own websites like the Corinthia Group reaching out not only the local market but also the international market.
The internet has a much larger audience than a local or national newspaper, so more people can potentially see the ad and act upon it. You can post your ad online and receive feedback and sales within a very short time, as usually people just have to click on your URL for more information, rather than make a phone call or send a letter, for example placing an advert on www.searchmalta.com which is also free of charge.
Hence having a website is becoming essential both for large or small businesses. Although there are the initial and maintenance costs to consider, the advantages of having one are increasing drastically mainly not only to improve the business but also to enlarge it and compete with the rivals.
Mobile phone subscriptions have also overtaken the number of fixed telephone lines, which stand at 52.2 for each 100 population in Malta, reflecting trends overseas. Sending SMS is the latest trend of sending immediate offers to customers such as Vodafone sending off weekly sms to its subscribers to encourage them to send 150 sms in a month and topping up their account by Lm1.50.
ISDN is a proven and reliable service. It gives fast access to information: instantaneous call set-up and guaranteed high data speeds mean less time waiting. It’s simple: having telephones, faxes and computers connected on the one ISDN services makes it an obvious upgrade choice for analogue phone users. It’s flexible: ISDN’s wide range of communication options gives customers the opportunity to add new locations to their businesses and grows with them as they expand. It can increase productivity and profitability: ISDN supports new ways of sharing information and working together – such as video conferencing and e-mail which allow people in different locations to work more collaboratively and efficiently. It assists your customer service: An ISDN service gives businesses more options for client contact through telephone, fax, the Internet or PC to PC. Hence worth having it!
The developments in computer technology have also made it possible to collect, store and retrieve data with relative ease when compared to the days when databases were card-based and immensely laborious and tedious to search and update. Not only have search facilities improved but also sophisticated analytical statistical techniques have made it increasingly possible to meet customer needs more specifically. A good of example of this is that more frequently hotels are implementing new client based databases containing for instance their client’s room preferences such as sea-view, having a balcony, having a bath instead of a shower, at ground floor because client suffers from heart problems etc. The advantage of this is that when making reservations, the reservations staff knows in advance what their client is expecting thus giving him/her what they want/require without the need of asking out for such details.
Therefore for an organization to have an up-to-date customer database is important in order to retain its customer, proving out to be up to standard with technology thus inspiring trust and loyalty towards its customers and making work easier and more efficient when an employee is dealing with its customers because client information, calls and demands, transaction sales etc. are clearly viewed when clicking on the client’s name.
In summary, technology is by all means affecting today’s methods and ways of effecting business. This hence varies from introducing new equipment in the office to the use of emails, internet/websites, and evolved telephone systems. This means that priorities are changing. But as technological advances are increasing, one must question whether all organisations are willing to make such changes and under what circumstances. Obviously those company’s which capital permits, are experimenting with new items in the market in order to beat the competition by being more effective, efficient, original and gaining their competitors customers.