Hidden Profits Blog

Finding the Gold in Your Business

Hidden Profits Author:

Lynda J. Roth

As the president and founding partner of Woodland Hills-based LJR Consulting Services, Lynda advises clients on ways to improve profitability and productivity through both technology and business processes. She also works with companies and private equity firms on the role of information technology in mergers and acquisitions.



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The Real Value of Information Technology

Do you feel like the Information Technology (IT) bills never stop coming?  It seems like there are always upgrades, maintenance costs, new software that must be purchased.  The question becomes ‘What Value Do We Receive From That Investment?’ That is actually a very good question.  Most IT executives would answer that there is almost 100% uptime, business transactions are processed with stunning accuracy and speed, employees have access to recent releases of Office software to better do their jobs, everyone has email with near 100% uptime, response time is quick and everyone has smartphones with email.  All  that is true and important, I mean just think of how the average office worker would do their job without email, MS Office and the standard accounting system used  in business. 

Increase IT value and watch profit soar

However, the value of Information Technology (IT) should go much further than that, especially today.  We have instant connectivity to the internet almost anywhere and from devices that we hold in our hand.  We use those devices to access our personal information instantly while many busy executives still wait until the end of the month and later to access critical business information.  In our personal lives we interact with each other quickly and learn more about each other than ever before with social media. Yet companies still have limited interaction with suppliers and sometimes customers.  

 In order to move to the next level of IT value there are 4 key areas that should be addressed.

  1. Real time information for better informed decision making
  2. Information provided suppliers to improve supply chain and customers in the form of new or add-on products and services
  3. Optimized business operations and back-office from increased use of technology
  4. Innovative interaction and collaboration with suppliers, partners and customers 

In many cases companies already have the technology to add value in these four areas but there is a lack of communication between IT and business and often a lack of innovative thought on the part of both business and IT to address these opportunities.  The reality is businesses that add technology value in these four areas will be the businesses that stand out, attract customers, attract ‘A’ level talent and become more profitable.

I will address each of these value opportunities in subsequent posts.  If you would like an evaluation of how your company can increase value in these areas, call us at 818-709-6583  for a free 90 minute consultation. 

5 Ideas to Utilize Mobile Devices for Business Applications

Almost all corporations today provide mobile devices - smart phones, iPad, etc. to employees.  The question is ‘Are they used for more than just phones, email, Facebook and Twitter?’ There are many business applications for which these devices can be used that increase the value to the business and improve business efficiency and performance.

Here are some types of business applications that can add value to the operation.

1.  Key Performance Indicators (KPI), business alerts, and other business information displayed via mobile device.  This could be any piece of key information that is important to executive management in monitoring business activity.  Some examples are:

  • Daily sales
  • Cash balances
  • Key project alerts
  • Profitability by key customer
  • Manufacturing statistics
  • Crop ratings for agriculture

2.  Purchase order/requisition entry and approval. One of the key reasons that company’s have for not using electronic purchase orders is that it is inconvenient to be at a computer when making a purchase. For industries in which employee’s that need to make purchases and do not easily have access to a computer providing a mobile device application to create and approve purchase orders greatly enhances the efficiency of the company and the AP department.

3.  Purchase Order receipt - for companies such as construction or agriculture that receive product deliveries in locations without computer access, the ability to receive PO via mobile devices reduce manual data entry and provide more accurate inventory control. 

3.  Delivery orders and authorizations for product delivery companies.  Many companies that deliver product such as food, uniforms, beverages, etc.  or provide on-site service such as plumbers, HVAC repair, electronic repair, still print the delivery orders daily for drivers.  Once the product is delivered the customer signs the paper order and often companies then scan those documents into a system for access by customers.  By downloading the orders to mobile devices the addresses can be input to GPS automatically for directions, the actual cost of the delivery or service calculated on the mobile device, customer authorization recorded and the completed order uploaded to the corporate ERP system and made available to customer facing applications.  All this is done with no data entry which can significantly reduce time and cost.

 4.  Customer Orders.  Company’s with sales reps that take orders in the field the entry of the order and contract signing can be competed on the mobile device. 

5.  Customer facing applications - many companies have already added the applications that are already available on the web to mobile devices.

These are just a few ideas on how to use mobile devices to improve corporate efficiency.  If you would like your organization’s systems reviewed  and  opportunities for mobile device applications identified, contact me at 818-709-6583 or by email lynda.roth@ljrconsultingservices.com 

 

2 Recent Examples of Corporate CyberCrime

Filed under: Cyber Security, Information Technology, Information Technology Strategy — Lynda Roth at 3:14 pm on Monday, April 4, 2011

In my last blog post I discussed the importance of evaluating risk of cyber crime in business and 5 steps to protect your company.  Well in the news in the last couple of weeks are 2 high profile examples of cyber crime and the affects to the victim firms’ reputation and profitability. 

The first was last week when BP (British Petroleum) announced that an employee had lost a laptop that contained social security numbers for victims of the BP oil spill that had been reimbursed by the company.  This is an example of the first type of breach I discussed in my previous post.  The laptop contained data that had either been downloaded from corporate systems to the laptop or had simply been created on the laptop using desktop software.  This was completely avoidable and has cost BP not only financially but also another hit to their already shaky reputation.  Today files with critical information do not need to be stored on laptops or workstations for employees to have access to them.  In a major corporation like BP, these files should have been maintained on a corporate secure server.  Other options are to maintain the files on outsourced secure servers.

The second was this past weekend when the Epsilon data servers were hacked and client information from a host of major corporations was compromised.  The good news is that it appears that the only information that was exposed was client names and email addresses.  How this was done is not yet known, however, it is one of those situations that may not have been easily prevented.  One scenario is that the data files may not have been as secure as they could have been because the data was not considered critical.  The Epsilon client corporations that were affected took adequate precautions by only providing customer name and email information to Epsilon.  While that information can lead to more details about a customer it will require additional work to obtain that information.  The big risk in this scenario is that the end customers could begin to receive pshing emails in which the perpetrators are seeking the additional identity information required directly from the consumer. 

Even though limited personal information was obtained, this will still cost numerous corporations significantly.  First Epsilon’s reputation is severely impaired and the company may lose significant revenue from this incident not to mention the cost of notification.  The victim companies involved which include Citibank, Capital One, Walgreens, will probably spend millions in notification and corrective action to protect their customers.

Senior executives and board members, this is a critical issue.  Security should be re-evaluated in all companies.  If you would like to discuss your security in more detail please contact me at 818-709-683.  Here is the link to my previous post www.hiddenprofitsblog.com/5-steps-to-protect-your-company-from-cyber-crime