Understanding the Role of Business Technology in Your Industry - Joel Patterson | The Vested Group

Understanding the Role of Business Technology in Your Industry

Technology is an essential element of every business. Whether it’s a single individual running a company out of their home or a multinational corporation, it’s impossible to succeed without tech. Business technology is continually changing, and it’s crucial to stay up-to-date with your industry’s standards to remain competitive. Let’s look at a few ways technology affects business success.

Improved Customer Interfacing

Keeping your customers happy is paramount to the success of your company. You want to stay current with the standards of communication within your industry. With advances in technology, you can communicate with the consumer more effectively. Technology allows customers to find help whenever they need it, not just during business hours.

Also, today’s consumers all have different preferred methods of communication. Incorporating online chat, text services, or easy-to-use apps into your business gives customers the power to access information in whichever way they are most comfortable. All of these small but effective interactions lead to higher overall rates of customer satisfaction, more word-of-mouth recommendations, and a better reputation for your business.

Flexible and Effective Workplace

Customers aren’t the only ones who benefit from technology in a business. More efficient systems and means of communication allow employees to work together seamlessly from different locations. If your company has multiple offices, technology makes it so teams on opposite sides of the world can still work together without issue.

Tech also makes it possible for employees to work even if they can’t be in the office, like during CoVid19. Allowing employees to work from home leads to higher employee satisfaction rates and improved work-life balance. Working with your staff to provide flexible schedules can help you to retain talent and shows employees that you care about their personal lives.

Better Overall Efficiency

Utilizing technologies that improve business processes can save you time and manpower. Some processes that were performed manually in the past can now be completed with software and AI. However, you have to beware of utilizing excessive amounts of AI when assisting your customers. Too much automation can make customers feel as though a company doesn’t care about their concerns.

Automated systems are also more accurate than manual processes, making for fewer mistakes and less time lost. Antiquated methods can drag your business down, allowing the competition to fly past you. Utilizing emerging technologies to streamline processes will enable you to allocate more resources to growth and development.

Smart Growth

My company, The Vested Group, works with businesses to create Oracle+NetSuite software solutions tailored to their business. In addition to all of the things I’ve mentioned in this article, Oracle+NetSuite also provides leaders with all of the real-time data you need to make informed decisions in one convenient location. Oracle+NetSuite is also highly scalable and customizable, making periods of high growth or transition more manageable.

Secure Operations

The right technology can keep sensitive information safe with digital security measures. Now more than ever, it’s vital that you protect your company from digital threats inside and outside of your business. Security technology allows you to control who can access what information when and from where.

Technology can feel overwhelming at times, but don’t let that stop you from moving forward. The Vested Group’s team of experienced consultants can position your organization for success no matter where your comfort level with technology lies. We’d love to answer any questions you may have – reach out to me directly or take my tech assessment today!

How to Know When to Bring in a Consultant - Joel Patterson - ERP Consultant

How to Know When to Bring in a Consultant

There are many different kinds of consultants out there who can benefit your company in countless ways. Even if you’ve identified a good use case for bringing a consultant into your organization, you might be thinking, “Consultants are expensive. I don’t understand exactly what they do, and I don’t know why my company would need one.” Don’t worry; you’re not alone.

Today, I’m going to give just a few of the high-level reasons why your company might benefit from an outside software consultant.

A Fresh Perspective

Sometimes when you’ve been face-to-face with an issue for too long, there’s nothing left to do but get an outside opinion. Consultants can offer a view that’s totally different than what those on the inside might bring to the table.

You are very familiar with your company’s processes, and unfortunately, this can cause you to lose perspective to a degree. A consultant will bring fresh eyes to the situation, resulting in different ideas and solutions. My consultants have worked with many companies to improve their processes, and these experiences give them the tools to provide other companies with proven solutions.

Dedicated Manpower

Perhaps you’re confident in the work that needs to be done. You’ve made a plan to improve; now, all you have to do is execute. Who is going to dedicate their time and energy to this project in a way that will ensure success?

Rather than adding to your employees’ already full workload, you can bring in a consultant who is committed solely to finding and implementing the solution that’s right for your company. While it’s tempting to take the less costly DIY route, a dedicated consultant will give you better results at a faster rate.

Bring in an Expert

While you’re likely the authority when it comes to the inner workings of your company, finding a sustainable, innovative solution will probably require an expert. Software consultants bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience to create lasting solutions that can help your bottom line.

By working with a consultant, you can combine your knowledge of the company with their expertise in software solutions to create the perfect implementation. Adding a consultant with specialized expertise to your team takes the pressure off you and will result in a better overall long-term solution.

Support When You Need It

When improving your software systems, it’s vital to have a support team. Consultants bring the support you need to feel confident in the changes you’re making. Without an expert there to guide you, the process can become overwhelming and slow to a halt. 

Consultants are there to assist you in making decisions, explain your new processes thoroughly, and train you and your employees on how to use your new and improved system. I guarantee it will be more pleasant and efficient than figuring it all out on your own.

These are just a few of the reasons consultants are highly beneficial when working to create a new software system for your business. If it sounds like you could use consulting services, reach out to The Vested Group today. We look forward to working with you!

The Intersection of Business and Technology: Balancing Customer Service and Artificial Intelligence

The Intersection of Business and Technology: Balancing Customer Service and Artificial Intelligence

Businesses are constantly faced with the challenge of meeting and exceeding customer expectations both efficiently and seamlessly. Artificial Intelligence is changing the way consumers engage with companies. While AI may cut down on costs in some cases, it can ultimately diminish the customer experience if it is overused.

It’s imperative to find the right balance of tech and human interaction that meets customers’ needs. An article by Harvard Business Review states, “These connected customers also expect an omnichannel approach to interactions: They want the convenience and accessibility of online self-service, but they also want access to talk with a human agent when problems get confusing or complex.”

So, what exactly is the perfect balance between technology and human interaction? Unfortunately, there’s not one standard answer, but here are a few things to consider.

Technology’s Role

Many companies use digital assistants or chatbots to answer standard questions or help with simple troubleshooting quickly. Since these technologies can assist multiple customers at once and solve a myriad of common issues, they often improve overall efficiency (and cut costs).

What you must continuously consider is whether the AI elements are actually giving customers what they’re looking for. If the average consumer feels that technology is hindering more than it’s helping, then you’ve run into some issues. I’m sure you’ve encountered a situation in which a robot simply wasn’t giving you the solution you were looking for, and the only thing you want is to speak to a real, live human being.

AI Strengths:

  • Able to answer common questions quickly and precisely.
  • Consistent across all interactions.
  • Filter customers to the correct department.
  • Track incoming data.

AI Weakness:

  • Lacks problem-solving skills, empathy, and emotional interaction.

The Human Element

While AI benefits both customers and companies in many ways, having accessible customer service representatives is essential for more complex issues. Customers should be able to talk and chat with someone promptly if AI can’t provide the answers or assistance they need.

If you are using a human to help with all issues, your processes could likely use a little help from technology. When considering the balance between humans and technology, always think about the customer experience. The ultimate goal is to get your customers the support they need in the fastest and most pleasant way possible, so they will keep coming back.

Human Strengths:

  • Able to solve complex issues.
  • Can empathize and emotionally connect with the consumer.
  • Has the ability to be more knowledgeable than a bot.

Human Weaknesses:

  • Can only work with one customer at a time.
  • More expensive and less consistent.

For your business to successfully balance human and AI customer service elements, you must play on the strengths of each. Listen to customer feedback regarding their experience, and, if necessary, consider bringing in a consultant to help you restructure your customer service department. For more on customized software solutions, check out The Vested Group.

Phase Zero - The Vested Group - Joel Patterson

Phase Zero: How to Create a Solid Plan for Business Success

Every sizable endeavor requires some sort of plan to ensure its overall success. Here at The Vested Group, we take the planning phase of our projects very seriously. We work with each of our clients to create a thorough, structured plan to ensure a successful implementation.

We call this unique part of our planning kickoff Phase Zero. Phase Zero allows us to work directly with the client to plan and create the software solution for their business needs.  This integral first step in planning allows The Vested Group to identify your signature business processes and address foreseeable gaps. During this phase, your needs are not only heard but are an irreplaceable part of the overall planning process. I believe this phase is the defining factor of a project’s success.

What does Phase Zero entail?

Phase Zero takes an average of one to two weeks to complete but can also take over a month, depending on the situation.  Each Phase Zero is conducted according to the client’s specific needs, and no two Phase Zeros are exactly the same. During this time, our consultants work with clients, giving them their undivided attention and brainpower. We begin with a project kickoff, which includes introductions, establishing general goals, and determining the “why” of your project.  We identify your signature processes, and these become the main focus where we define, prioritize, create, and review solutions custom-tailored to your business needs. 

The first few days of Phase Zero are dedicated to understanding your company’s current processes. We look at what works, what could be improved, and the tools needed to help your business’s software systems work for you, not against you.

We then move on to ideation and future state. This brainstorming phase is one of my favorite parts of Phase Zero because this is when we get to hear what your pie-in-the-sky goals are for your new system. Think big! No idea is too outrageous, and every idea could spark innovation that takes an implementation from good to great.  This rapid-fire approach is an Organizational Behavior term called ‘bursting’ and frequently leads to results no one could have predicted on their own.

During Phase Zero, we also review company data—both past and present. We’ll analyze what you have and what we’ll need to do to ensure your legacy data is transferred to the new system without issue.  

After we have documented our findings from the on-site visit, we compile specific recommendations that fit your business needs. We will deliver a formal presentation for your team, including a detailed plan for your implementation that lays out the work to be done and the timeline for your project. We will also discuss our process for conserving and transferring your legacy data and our risk management plan.

Of course, before we wrap up, we’ll have time for any remaining questions or concerns. The purpose of Phase Zero is to work together to ensure that we are on the same page to reach your goals. Phase Zero may seem like a hefty start to a project, but we believe the more comprehensive the planning stage is, the greater the success of the project.

Ready to start your Phase Zero? Reach out! We’d love to work with you.

Hands-On Leader - Joel Patterson

How to Be a Hands-On Leader (and Why You Should Be)

There are lots of different ideas out there about how to best lead a company, but have you ever been told that an uninvolved, uninterested, hands-off leadership strategy is the way to go? Probably not.

The more a leader separates him or herself from the rest of the company, the less effective he’s likely to be. Here are a few things I’ve learned on my path to becoming a productive, involved, hands-on leader. 

Honesty. Transparent communication is crucial when developing trust. Employees know when you are vague with your information or messaging. The more you can be completely open with your employees, the more they will trust you to lead them in the future.

For example, if we have a complex implementation coming up, and I can see that we are going to need to work longer hours and possibly a weekend or two﹘ I tell my team precisely that. While it may seem like being the bearer of bad news, it’s better than leading them to believe they will be out the door at five every night when that’s simply not the case.

Approachability. It’s vital that every person in the company feels that they can come to you with their problems and you will hear them. The more you listen to your team, the more insight you will gain into how to lead them effectively. Never brush off an employee’s idea, opinion, or problem. Listen with intent, not apathy.

Offer Feedback. If a team or individual is underperforming but hasn’t gotten the feedback needed to address the issue, nothing is going to change. In the same way, if you have employees giving 110% effort and producing outstanding work, that needs to be recognized. Make sure your team knows that you are present; you see the work they’re putting in, and you are on the same side.

Lead by Example. I’ve found that leading by example is an essential element of leadership. The leaders set the attitude of the entire company. You can’t expect a collaborative workforce if you don’t collaborate with them. You can’t expect loyal, dedicated employees if you don’t fight for them as well. 

Be the Leader You’d Want to Have. When making decisions, you have to think not only about the success of the company but the happiness of your employees. A solution carried out by an unhappy employee is never a sustainable solution. If you’re not sure about how your decisions are affecting your team, ask for feedback.

In every situation, try to put yourself in the shoes of those you lead. Are you the type of supervisor you’d want to work with? Each of your employees is a human being. It may seem like an obvious statement, but it’s easy to get caught up in the big-picture decisions and forget about the individuals that those decisions affect. Learn more about how to be a hands-on leader in my new book, The Big Commitment: Solving the Mysteries of Your ERP Implementation.

Is Your Company a Good Fit for NetSuite?

My company, The Vested Group, designs and implements NetSuite software solutions exclusively, so it’s pretty obvious that I believe in this system’s capabilities. NetSuite is an excellent ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system for many companies, but how do you know if it’s right for your company? Here are a few elements to consider when researching your business’s software options.

Business Size. One of the best features of NetSuite is its ability to handle businesses of all sizes. Here at The Vested Group, we specialize in NetSuite solutions for small to medium-sized companies, but the possibilities for this system are truly endless. Whether you’re a start-up with just a few employees or a large corporation operating on multiple continents, this ERP system could be the best solution for your business.   

Growth Potential. Many software solutions work well for where you’re at right now, but as you grow and expand, their functionality diminishes. Because of its cloud-based technology and versatile offerings, NetSuite can grow with your business.

Sales Channels. If you sell products in multiple places (e.g., in both a brick-and-mortar store and online), NetSuite can handle the data for all your sales channels.  This multi-channel functionality means both sides of the business can “talk” to one another, and you can process all of your business-critical transactions with one system.

Data Accessibility. How quickly can you access the data you need? When working with multiple software systems, it can take a substantial amount of time to get a comprehensive snapshot of your company.

NetSuite gives you all the information you need in one place, providing clear insights into your sales, service, and marketing performance. You will no longer be dealing with conflicting information or inaccuracies between multiple software systems. You can get a bird’s eye view of your business’s performance across all departments in real-time.

 Streamlined Productivity. Do your employees ever seem to get bogged down trying to use the systems you currently have in place? Known for its impressive functional breadth, NetSuite is highly customizable and can be tailored to meet your exact needs across all functional silos of your business. In addition, NetSuite allows all these silos to communicate with one another seamlessly, making for a more collaborative work environment.

These are just a few elements to consider when choosing a new ERP system for your business. NetSuite is one of many systems that could meet your company’s needs, but I believe NetSuite is the best system to support your company both now and during future periods of growth and transition. Check out my new book, The Big Commitment: Solving the Mysteries of Your ERP Implementation, to learn more!