On April 23rd, Inacom held the 2nd Annual Delmarva Technology Expo in Salisbury, MD. More than 100 business and technology decision makers came to the event. I had the pleasure to speak with almost every attendee. They came from every county and represented just about every industry in our region. Through my conversations, I was able to put together a lot of interesting data about Delmarva’s organizations. While it’s not a scientific survey, there’s a lot of good information that can be applicable to everybody who reads this article.
Almost every person that I spoke with told me that their budgets, at best, are flat. Some businesses are feeling a serious pinch from the slow economy. Most are at flat revenue levels, while a select few keep growing at a significant pace. Regardless of how these business leaders are faring on the top line, they are all looking for ways to aggressively cut costs. Thin client computing is being heavily investigated to reduce deployment and maintenance costs of the traditional PC. There was also lot of interest in Balanced Tunnel VPNs to slash recurring charges for leased line T1 and Frame Relay circuits between offices and to reduce the cost of IP Telephony deployments.
Organizations now have to fight harder to win the sale. Vendors are becoming more aggressive and potential customers are less inclined to spend as much money. Because of this market reality, customer responsiveness is another key initiative. One attendee deals with 12 competitors in their market, and they have identified two key initiatives to address this year. They want to improve their ability to push data to service technicians and sales people out in the field and better manage customer inquiries in their call center.
They hope that the service and sales initiative will help to more efficiently route service technicians, speed the delivery of replacement parts to fix customer systems while eliminating an overnight shift of loaders, and provide instant answers to prospects regarding availability of product and service schedules. To achieve these goals they need to implement a comprehensive mobile networking solution that allows secure, anywhere access to the network, integrated voicemail and email, and a wireless network at several key locations. These changes would require investing in a new firewall, telephone system, and building a wireless network. While a sizable investment, financing the products and services necessary would still generate thousands of dollars in savings each and every month with almost no out of pocket investment.
We all know that the real estate industry is facing especially tough times. Lack of “cheap and easy” money to finance buyers has stalled building projects and reduced the potential pool of buyers while depressing the value of real assets. Those involved in selling real estate to consumers are especially interested in improving their web presence – typically creating a new web site and finding opportunities to market their web site to a larger pool of interested buyers in order to generate enough leads to make the sale. These organizations are looking towards moving away from generic, template based web sites and adding interactive features to provide a more interactive environment for their visitors. Those with fairly modern web sites are looking to improve performance by developing a sales funnel for their site, increase exposure with linking strategies, and using Pay per Click advertising.
Medical offices are facing significant pushback from the government and insurance carriers, while at the same time dealing with a scarce pool of qualified medical professionals to fill their staff. For them, eking every bit of efficiency is critical to ensuring profitability and adequate care levels for their patients. Practices continue to look at deploying Electronic Medical Records (EMR) solutions, usually requiring investment in servers, wireless networking, and tablet PCs to speed access to data and help practitioners see more patients. One thing that I found especially interesting – practice managers have not thought of using digital forms to reduce dependency on paper or investing in a new telephone system to automate menial tasks like creating service queues or reminding patients of their upcoming appointment.
This month I’ve put together a list of pains that your industry peers are feeling in today’s market, and the possible solutions that they think they have found. Take a few minutes to think about what changes you are making to improve your bottom line, and if these ideas could be a fit for you, too.