Business administrators do more than take care of a business's day-to-day tasks. They're instrumental in keeping companies on track, whether it’s in terms of finances, efficiency or service delivery. These professionals ensure that companies consistently deliver quality service and have the resources needed to operate effectively.
Technology plays a significant role in business administration success. The software and hardware that businesses use for administrative tasks are constantly evolving, as are stakeholder and consumer demands.
Business administrators must stay on top of the latest technological trends so they can take advantage of the newest innovations. Here is a look at the partnership between modern technology and business administration and how technology can help businesses improve their operations.
What is business administration?
Business administration is an umbrella term used to describe the management of company resources. A business administrator will typically have a top-down view of a company and oversee resource management across multiple areas.
For example, a business administrator will carefully manage corporate finances. They must ensure their firm has enough income to make certain investments and analyze where the bulk of their revenue is coming from.
In many cases, business administrators work with human resources (HR) personnel to ensure adequate staff is allocated to specific departments and projects. This means they have some degree of oversight in hiring and firing.
Moreover, business administrators must know how a company is performing in terms of raw materials and physical resources. They can coordinate with specific departments and specialists in their company to ensure their needs are being met.
A business administrator's work ensures that a company is healthy enough to operate. While they may not have ownership rights over the business, they often have free rein to make decisions that impact its future direction.
Given the importance of this role, it is not surprising that many specialized degrees and qualifications exist in business management and administration. For example, the St Bonaventure online MBA provides students with knowledge and tools to manage business administration across companies of all sizes and industries. This program is ideal for building confidence and gaining practical insight into how a company operates and how proper cybersecurity can help keep a business’s costs down.
How is technology making business administration easier?
Modern society depends heavily on technology. Whether you are working as a business administrator for a growing company or an established brand, you'll need to use various tools to keep abreast of your firm's performance.
However, it's a misconception that technology simply keeps businesses running at a flat pace instead of growing at speed. While many businesses rely on the same software and hardware to manage customer accounts and grow revenue, the most successful companies actively try new technological trends on a trial-and-error basis.
To succeed in many aspects of business, it can be helpful to be the first in your field to adopt a new technology or practice. This is not always easy, especially when deciding which technologies will likely make the biggest splashes. However, there are a few educated risks business administrators can take to ensure their firms are prepared for the years ahead.
Here are a few technological trends and resources that are making life much easier for business administrators and driving excellent results for their companies.
Handling repetitive tasks
Menial tasks and repetitive project demands can occupy a lot of time that could be better spent elsewhere. Answering emails, getting projects signed off, and even serving customers at the start of a buying process is now easier to automate and delegate.
For example, most customer relationship management (CRM) systems now include elements of automation to help manage accounts. A CRM platform might help you trace where a customer or potential lead "enters" your business and pass their details to the most suitable salespeople.
There’s also the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) to consider. Not only are business administrators using text chatbots to serve customers online, but they’re also using AI voice assistants to warm up leads. Automated voice is evolving and is far from the clunky, obvious technology available only a few years ago.
AI voices are now being used to imitate real people with incredible accuracy. This means that instead of employing human service agents at the point of sale or inquiry, businesses can delegate lead-warming to smart programs.
Customers will still receive the same level of care and satisfaction, and AI can be fine-tuned to answer complex queries and even understand contexts.
If there are any areas of business management and administration that take up unnecessary time, there is likely a way to automate them or delegate them to AI. This covers needs as diverse as data entry, customer care, order tracking and inter-departmental contact.
Helping people collaborate
We live and work in a highly remote world, so it's reasonable to expect software and hardware to help people connect more efficiently across long distances. This is another area where a high-quality CRM suite can help keep everyone connected and on the same page.
Members of a specific department or project simply need to log into a given area of a CRM, and they'll receive live updates pushed to their mobile devices. Using a centralized app that is available to download to various devices, teams can collaborate on projects in the field and in the office.
Remote project management and notifications allow teams to track where each project member is at any given moment. Users can upload documents, tag others, and sometimes even include the insight of customers and stakeholders.
Software such as ClickUp, TalentDesk, Slack, and Monday, for example, all provide management tracking options that are easy to use remotely and in close quarters.
Collaboration from afar is also becoming easier thanks to the rise of commercial-first video conferencing apps and services such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, both of which saw significant uptake during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With these platforms, users can hold remote meetings and collaborate on specific documents thanks to screen-sharing technology. While video conferencing is not new, it has become significantly more efficient and innovative since the rise of social distancing measures.
Thanks to technology, it has never been easier to collaborate in-house or work together remotely.
When human eyes simply can't keep close track of each piece of inventory, software can manage the details. Automated and software-based inventory tracking reduces the risk of human error, which is still proving costly for businesses.
Technology such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) allows business administrators to track items and products that are available on-site. RFID codes contain crucial data and are easy to scan using specialist hardware that delivers scanning results to central systems for processing.
Many warehouse-reliant businesses use specialized Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), which work similarly to CRM suites. These programs scale up and down with the size and demands of an organization and typically provide administrators with access to data on available goods, receiving and shipping information, and personnel available to handle warehouse tasks.
This type of system may not benefit all operations, but it can save a lot of time and money for those that rely on shipping to customers from a central inventory base.
Amazon, for example, uses a colossal and cutting-edge inventory tracking and shipment system that enables them to dispatch instantly from warehouse locations worldwide. It's the sophistication of this technology that allows them to provide services such as same-day shipping.
Technology based on the Internet of Things (IoT), where physical objects connected to the internet communicate with each other across wireless signals, also helps to report back on inventory levels. For example, it's possible to set up an inventory alert for a central computer to receive notifications when warehouse sensors detect out-of-stock products.
This means there's even less room for human error to affect efficiency and accuracy. Order picking and communications with logistics teams have become more reliable, so customers expect better standards of care and support.
Human warehouse staffing will still be needed, even when IoT devices and RFID communications are in place. Although the business world is moving faster toward an age of purely relying on technology to automate these concerns, companies will always need someone to take over when machines fail.
Analytics and forecasting are becoming more accurate thanks to technological leaps during the past few decades. Many businesses already monitor website and customer analytics through usage data, but it's now even easier to predict how specific sales periods will go, when customers will buy which products, and how much inventory should be stocked.
A forecasting niche that has grown dramatically in recent years is time prediction. Apps such as Clockify, for example, help business administrators track time spent on projects and determine the amount of time needed for their completion.
Project scheduling and data aggregates based on previous performance and delivery timetables help administrators learn more about what their teams can do.
Predictive software is also growing to provide more accurate financial planning. This forecasting aspect is particularly useful in an age when global financial markets continue to struggle. However, business administrators can use software such as Anaplan, for example, to analyze where revenue is coming from and how they can react to changes.
Project planning that considers the available resources, personnel and software is also becoming more accurate through centralized hubs. CRMs and other centralized platforms allow for data to merge in one place, providing an overall aggregate of factors that can affect project delivery times, quality and potential financial growth.
This is a market that is fairly saturated yet still growing. The emergence of AI tools in the mainstream in recent years shows us that people are still innovating in analytics. After all, there is always room for forecasting to become more accurate.
This provides valuable support to business administrators as they can save time, money and effort with highly precise analytics. Although it is not wise to rely fully on machines for this support, they are already helping to cut back on unnecessary human administration and the potential for errors it presents.
Managing and accessing data
It’s hard to believe that the “cloud revolution” is already several years old, but there is no question about how pervasive cloud computing has become in our everyday lives.
Beyond the world of commercial operations, many people use cloud computing for private data such as photos, document storage, music and movies. The popularity of services such as iCloud, Dropbox and OneDrive illustrates the current prevalence of cloud computing.
In the corporate world, cloud computing revolutionized data storage and processing. While commercial cloud users still save information in a physical database, the database is accessible through web logins and is hosted completely off-site.
The cloud is accessible from anywhere with a valid login. Moreover, the company benefiting from the service doesn't have to pay for physical storage or running costs. There's also the benefit of data backups, which means data is easy to restore at almost any point in time in the event of a catastrophe such as a hacking attempt.
The efficiency boost this technology provides business administrators doesn’t stop there. There has also been significant growth in cloud server solutions.
While companies running internal networks typically run their own servers on-site, this can prove to be highly laborious to maintain, and its costs can add up. There's also the matter of finding physical space for extensive server hardware.
Cloud server technology, however, allows business administrators to run all company operations through off-site hardware. It’s completely in the cloud, which means it’s remote and accessible through any device aiming to connect.
For business owners, this technology allows experts to maintain connectivity for a monthly or yearly fee. It's a small price for business administrators to pay for faster, more reliable data management.
Facilitating customer relationship management
While there may be some concerns about AI taking over customer service roles and making them less appealing to buyers, the overall customer interaction experience is becoming much more satisfying for clients.
This is largely because CRMs and other platforms are helping business administrators build clearer workflows and step-by-step plans for interacting with customers. They can automate lead-building as prospects enter funnels through website clicks and discovery calls, for example, and then ensure there is always an agent ready to speak with them further down the line.
By bringing together multiple data sources and planning customer journeys, technology is ensuring that buyers' voices are clear. This reduces the need for salespeople and customer service agents to make assumptions. It also makes it easier for businesses to tailor experiences to specific customer needs.
Business administrators managing personnel and customer journeys simply need to access a CRM or other conversation tracker to see where a project or customer roadmap may be heading. Instead of requiring extra calls or messages to multiple departments and agents, administrators can see exactly who is in charge of a case and what actions are underway.
These advancements are beneficial for the customer, too. Customers can expect more responsive and respectful sales teams and tailored journeys that reflect their buying intentions more closely. This also means they're more likely to return as paying customers and may even recommend services to others.
Technology is helping business administrators and customer care teams reduce the communication shortcomings that can slow down customer conversations, force salespeople to make assumptions and ultimately lose sales.
This means that businesses can expect to enjoy higher and more frequent sales with an improved ratio of positive feedback.
Without technological advances, business administrators are effectively working in the dark. This means they may be making potentially harmful assumptions, losing track of personnel, and losing their places on projects across their companies.
Technological trends come and go, but recent strides forward – particularly in AI and automation – are moving us closer to a world where we can safely delegate thousands of tasks to programs.
The potential for saving time, money and effort while improving personnel distribution is endless. None of this means that human personnel will soon become extinct, but employees in every role should stay on top of the latest technological developments.
Business administrators have an exciting few years ahead. There will always be new resources, platforms and programs that can provide them with novel ways of improving the efficiency of their businesses and the quality of their output.