Businesses now using informationalization to enhance products and services

As technology begins to increase the expected turnaround and reaction time for many services and goods – due in part to new social media and consumer services – customers have begun to expect companies to be able to improve their products at an alarming rate as well.

Obsoletion has become a very real threat in almost any industry. In order to combat the rapid pace of product evolution, many companies have begun using what Harvard Business Review contributor and author Thomas Redman calls “informationalization” where companies will add or use data to enhance their products and services, something that can be very useful to evolving products and managed with a custom database software.

The clearest example of informationalization is, actually, in the beer industry. Major brewery Coors Light added a feature on their labels that inform drinkers when their beer is cold. They used a very basic form of information – coldness – as a means to advance their product and engage customers.

“Most companies are only beginning to realize the power in data, so these issues are demanding,” writes Thomas Redman. “There is no standard business model for informationalization or a tried-and-true list of basic questions. This, of course, is the real work and the fun of the unfolding data revolution.”

While adding more data to products or customer services can help businesses improve the quality of their work – and customer satisfaction – the maintenance of this data can be a heavy burden for any company, but absolutely necessary. In order to effectively store, categorize and maintain this wealth of information, companies may want to consult a FileMaker developer to create a custom database software for their specific needs.

How to grow a customer base without expanding numbers

Many companies place a heavy influence on growing their customer base by adding newer ones. This may make sense on a topical level – the more customers the better – but upon further insight, it may not be the best practice.

In order to properly grow a customer base, Entrepreneur Magazine recommends that companies take the time to pay more attention to their current customers, which can be most accurately done through a custom database software but also through a few sales tactics according to the news source.

One of the many ways companies can grow on existing customers is by enticing them to spend more. This can be done through a number of avenues such as cross-selling programs where companies may push customers to purchase related products, or up-selling programs, emphasizing the quality of higher-end products – a very common tactic in the restaurant industry. Others include next-selling – jumping toward the next purchase – and unbundling, where companies form a sort of a la carte menu to their products.

Furthermore, providing call to actions and mentioning new products or promotions on any form of customer communication template can also allow companies to increase sales. These templates can be stored in the database software as well.

Regardless of the ways companies promote increased customer spending, the data involved in these processes is very complicated. Associates will have to pull information about other products to promote to customers as well track previous purchases. The use of a custom database software similar to FileMaker can help companies maintain these crucial statistics that can play a key part in any customer growth initiatives. 

Retailers and other businesses are putting more importance on technology than before

The customer is always right is an adage for a reason – its emphasis on pleasing the customer is something that is paramount of businesses. That being said, companies will often do what they can to ensure customer satisfaction. According to a recent poll by CompTIA, a nonprofit research association for the IT industry, technology has taken a major role in the way businesses judge and ensure customer satisfaction.

According to the survey, 72 percent of retailers rate technology as important to their business. In addition, 63 percent of retailers expect to increase IT spending in 2012. Larger retailers also expect to boost IT budgets by almost 5 percent in the next year, with most others only planning roughly 4 percent.

Respondents say that promotional announcements and other direct engagement with customers are the most favored uses of technology.

“One reason for the strong interest may be in response to ‘showrooming,’ where consumers visit a physical shop to assess a product but make the purchase from an online retailer to get the lowest possible price,” said Tim Herbert, vice president of research at CompTIA. “Location-based technologies can give retailers the tools to incentivize in-store purchases, such as special discounts for in-store customers who check-in via an app.”

If retailers wish to use technology as a means to increase customer satisfaction as well as company performance, they may want to consult a FileMaker developer to create a custom database software that can handle whatever that particular company needs.

Whether it’s keeping track of sales, customer loyalty points, product promotions or inventory, a custom database software can assist these companies with the necessary tasks to boost productivity and customer happiness.

Productivity tips that can work for all businesses

In order for companies to operate efficiently and productively, communication across departments and among many different co-workers is essential. Although many businesses may think they've accomplished this through email, they may be surprised at how much more productive they can be not only with custom database software, but also by following a few tips from Entrepreneur Magazine

According to the magazine, managers should take the time to create a comprehensive task list that can guide them and their team to productivity. By doing so, coworkers and others associated with the project will be able to maintain a clear understanding of what needs to be done and when, as well as determine which tasks are of high or low priority.

Furthermore, this information can be shared using a custom database software, that allows all these individuals to access the list in one place, rather than having to email copies to everyone or even pass out paper copies. This tactic can be especially helpful for those involved in creative industries such as advertising, as many of these projects require many individuals from across company departments.

In addition, Entrepreneur encourages the use of measuring results rather than work load as a metric for employee productivity. By doing so, managers and executives will get a more accurate look at what is working and what requires a little more work. Furthermore, it allows for quality control checks as well. Despite the new standard of heavy and diverse workloads, workers still need to produce quality material, regardless of what they're doing.

By using a custom database software much like FileMaker, managers will be able to effectively communicate necessary tasks and assignments to employees in one place, while also using the same database to check results and productivity.

Small business owners should use big data for bigger decisions

When it comes to running a small business, numbers can play a huge part in the success and failure of the company. This isn't just true for sales and budget meetings, but also for making decisions. In fact, according to a June 21 article from Inc. Magazine, the biggest trend in running a business is using data as a means to base decisions off of rather than just hunches and instincts.

And, oftentimes, the best way to farm and analyze corporate data is through the use of a custom database software that can effectively maintain the large amounts of information that owners will need to access.

"And the data is out there," writes Langely Steinert for Inc. who is also the founder and CEO of CarGurus and TripAdvisor. "Whatever the industry, you can track down numbers to give you direction. In the online arena especially, there is a constant flow of traffic and information that leads to cold, hard facts."

Steinert recommends that companies collect as much data as they can and as early as they can if they're relatively new. These statistics, regardless of whether they're Google Analytics tracking blog and page views or retweet counts from the company's Twitter handles, will allow decision makers to make clear judgements based on facts and numbers – unbiased opinions regardless of where they come from.

While using hard data as a means to make important decisions, companies will also need to use a custom database software that can handle this much information. By consulting with FileMaker developers, companies can ensure that they will not only have a database that can fit their needs, but will also be able to be effectively integrated throughout the company's practices, making for greater clarity across departments on what the numbers are and where they're coming from. 

How to prioritize and rank to-do lists and assignments

As more companies are starting to require employees to fulfill multiple positions with a variety of responsibilities, it can be challenging for them to juggle all these different assignments and projects. But, according to Inc. Magazine, there is a method that, when implemented into a custom database software, can help produce clear and effective to-do lists for a company's workforce.

According to Inc., companies may want to base their project management and prioritize their tasks based off the Pareto Principle. The mathematical theory states that 80 percent of the effects of something come from 20 percent of the causes. For example, oftentimes about 80 percent of a sales forces revenue will come from roughly 20 percent of the team. This is also a very prevalent statistic in major sports.

But, Inc. argues that this formula can be used to help prioritize and delegate duties and responsibilities and can be done very effectively with use of a custom database software.

This method involves ranking the tasks involved in completing an assignment on a scale of one to 10. This ranking is twofold, the first one should be how much effort an assignment will take to complete with 10 being maximum effort and one being very little. The second is the result of the assignment, with one having very little effect on the overall workload and a 10 having a major impact. By dividing the two numbers, manager and employers are given the ranking of an assignment.

While this may seem like a complicated process, if managers consult a FileMaker developer they can create a custom database where employees are able to punch in these rankings for daily assignments and tasks and are then given a prioritized assignment list. By having such an effective and laid daily – and even weekly and monthly – plan, companies may find themselves much more productive than before. 

Subscription services on the rise, success often dependent on customer service

With technology evolving and improving at an unprecedented rate, businesses must evolve with it, oftentimes changing to meet customers demands or to save off of improved technologies. One such change has been the adoption of the subscription business model by many small businesses. The use of a custom database software can help all companies interested in becoming a subscription service make that change with efficiency.

According to BusinessWeek, more than 40 percent of media and digital-products companies worldwide will use subscription services for their fulfillment, billing and renewals by 2015. However, there are challenges that come with using a subscription model, including controlling customer churn, managing credit-card charge backs and delinquent payments and ensuring the security of customers’ financial data.

While these obstacles may appear daunting at first, the use of a custom database software can allow these media and digital-products companies to maintain accurate records of customer payment information as well as monitor access to guarantee the safety of sensitive financial information.

“In e-commerce, you typically see a 2 percent conversion rate for everyone who visits your site. We can afford to see a much lower conversion rate, as long as the person continues with us each month,” says Millie Tadewaldt, the managing director of Sandbox Industries, a Chicago-based incubator, to the source. “It doesn’t take very many sign-ups off a blog post to cover our cost.”

Despite its rising popularity and healthy numbers, many companies are still hesitant to adopt a subscription service model due to notorious customer complaints. According to BusinessWeek, the key is to make sure that it’s convenient to customers. Allowing customers to cancel orders last minute or rush deliveries may, at first, seem like a headache to companies, but using a custom database software that maintains and displays customer requests in an accurate and easily accessible manner makes providing these advantages much easier for businesses.

Increasing employee productivity with a smartphone and FileMaker GO

Over the past ten years more advances in communication and business technology have occurred than ever before. One such innovation has been the advent of the smartphone, as well as the development of apps and software programs that allow these devices to be such a useful tool. In a June Entrepreneur article, the magazine says that using a smartphone can inherently increase a company's productivity, which can be directly enhanced from using a mobile custom database software.

According to the source, one of the best ways smartphones can help employees remain productive, regardless of location, is by helping them manage tasks. A custom database software that is both available for standard personal computers as well as in a mobile version such as FileMaker GO is an excellent application for a business oriented smartphone.

Because FileMaker GO syncs with the FileMaker database in the office computer, users gain full access to all of their documents, projects and tasks. This allows them greater visibility into what needs to be done and by when.

While task and project management may be one of the best ways companies can utilize mobile devices, the number of capabilities doesn't end there especially with a custom database software. Entrepreneur gives another example of using a smartphone to scan business cards or receipts that may be accrued on business trips or at recruiting events. Using FileMaker GO, workers can directly upload these critical documents into the database either through scanning them or taking a picture.

In addition, the obvious communication advantages are also available through using smartphones. Having access to emails as well as any updated spreadsheets, analytical data or presentation documents makes a smartphone, when coupled with a custom database software such as FileMaker GO, an incredibly productive business tool. 

The rise of mobile marketing and how database software can help quantify effectiveness

In today’s world of mobile media and social networking, if companies aren’t using these avenues as a means of advertisement and marketing they may not be able to reach key demographics that could help propel their business. But, oftentimes, companies are not aware of how to properly measure the usefulness of their campaigns despite how critical these platforms may be. This conundrum can be solved with the use of a custom database software to help store key analytics about the use of these burgeoning media sources.

In fact, according to a survey by Prosper Mobile Insights, 74 percent of mobile users say they pay full attention to mobile ads while browsing the internet. Also, 35 percent of respondents say they do this on a regular basis and 38 percent on an occasional basis..

Furthermore, 59 percent of smartphone and tablet users surveyed say they regularly pay full attention to advertisements while visiting top social media websites, which has come into its own as far as digital marketing and advertising goes.

“Social media continues to emerge as an important marketing channel and major brand marketers are devoting more time and attention to understanding its impact on consumers,” said Andrew Lipsman, the VP of industry analysis at comScore, a digital analytics company. “While marketers understand the importance of a channel that now accounts for one 1 in every 7 minutes spent online, many are challenged to quantify its effectiveness.”

By consulting a FileMaker developer to create a custom database software that can hold the necessary analytics and tracking numbers of social media and mobile marketing, companies can quantify the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns. These numbers can help them push the strategies that created a positive reaction and scale back ones that may have left consumers less responsive.

Productivity may not be about counting hours spent in the office

While many managers may champion the individuals who work 50 to 60 hour work weeks, some experts claim that more hours does not necessarily mean more productivity. According to an article in Harvard Business Review from Harvard Business School professor Bob Pozen, workplace productivity and project management is more about work done rather than time spent, something that can be measured very effectively by the use of a custom database software.

In the article, Pozen points toward meetings as a main point of unproductive time. While meetings may be a great way to communicate with a group of individuals involved in a specific project, or with someone who may be working remotely, they are often unfocused and too long. While a meeting can be an exceptional way to distribute documents and information, the use of a custom database software can easily accomplish this while co-workers remain productive and focused.

Furthermore, Pozen cites a previous HBR article saying that 62 percent of the “highest-earning” individuals in America work 50 hours or more per week, with 35 percent putting in 60 hours or more. This can not only be detrimental to these workers’ personal lives, but also to workplace morale. While many individuals may see long hours as the best means of measuring work ethic and productivity, one way to curtail this decadent habit is to set up a metric system that effectively displays a workers or project team’s progress.

This can easily be done with a custom database software much like FileMaker. Database technology can allow workers to load their completed assignments and check task lists as they progress toward completing a project. By giving employees a way to visualize their progress, it may allow them to accurately assess their productivity so they can achieve a healthier work-life balance.