Embracing new technology gets companies ready for the future

Tim Skinner

Q How have advancements in the internet and online networking helped businesses through the difficult economic period?

A Three of the key reasons for any company to use the internet are business model innovation, reaching more customers, and reducing costs. To quote Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon.com, “the good thing is, with innovation, there isn’t a last nugget. Every new thing creates two new questions and two new opportunities”. Business skills training is just one sector that recognised very early the web’s potential to innovate and accelerate student development by accessing training content in new ways. Cisco training partner Global Knowledge uses a range of communication technologies to ensure its courses can be accessed globally. A significant portion – 65 per cent – of its classes utilise web resources, like online learning and virtual classrooms (delivered using high definition), and life-size business video known as telepresence.

Q Has networking helped individuals further their careers and companies find suitable candidates?

A Networking has always been a priority route to finding a new job – only now it takes place online and at twice the speed. At the date of writing, Arras People’s 2012 Project Benchmark Report quoted 63 per cent of project managers as having been approached with work opportunities via their LinkedIn account.

Q How has networking helped businesses engage with their customers – and employees – more effectively?

A As we approach the holiday season, a great example of a sector reaching customers in new ways is the travel industry. A quick visit to the majority of hotel websites will illustrate how social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn are used to broaden customer contact strategy. The internet widens a company’s catchment area from local to global, and the travel industry, more than most, relies on customers from outside its immediate geography.

Q How can businesses use networking to prepare for an unpredictable future? What new products are coming to market that will help companies develop?

A To quote Peter Drucker: “The best way to predict the future is to create it”. One rapidly developing capability enabling companies to do this is the explosion of mobile connectivity. Cisco’s 2012 Visual Networking Index forecasts that, by 2016, there will be 10bn mobile devices in the world, many of which are capable of supporting real time applications such as high definition video. Organisations that embrace these technologies, and embed them in their culture and business model will be preparing themselves for the future.