by Roberto Blake
Disruption doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact you should look for ways to turn it to your advantage and scale your business for the future, instead of being left behind. Taking and advantage of new technologies can usually help you in a few key areas: saving time, saving cost and reaching new customers/clients. There are three pieces of technology that can be game changing for any business going forward into the next decade: Mobile, Cloud and Video.
How Mobile is Changing the Game
The typical way many of us deal with contracts is by sending a PDF document via email, having someone print it, sign it and then scan for fax it back. We then Print and file the signed copies. That is quite a bit of work, but until recently it was one of the most efficient methods we had. Recently Adobe updated Adobe Acrobat to become Adobe Acrobat DC (Digital Cloud) and really stepped up how they are changing the workflow for handling contracts.
They also released a Mobile App called Adobe Fill & Sign which is a companion to Acrobat.
Now you could send can digitally sign a contract that can be shared via the cloud to your mobile device, allowing you to have a real digital signature, the other party could also countersign on their mobile device, send it back and both of you have a record of the contract that is stored in your cloud account and that you can print and file at any time.
This just reduced your time and cost tremendously but also made the documentation process itself easier and created a backup to the physical copy of the forms.
You can also making signing and editing contracts during a meeting easier using these technologies. Our ability to get away from a desktop and laptop and do more, will only become increasingly important as time goes on. You have to think about what that means for you industry. If you’re a printer, consider what the future of your customers experience might look like. Are you mobile friendly? Can they order business cards from you with a device on the go, or do they have to be changed to a desk?
How Cloud is Changing the Game
Once upon a time, every business big or small had to invest in a few filing cabinets to keep track of everything. Hire an assistant or secretary just to avoid spending the CEO’s time hunting down paperwork. Fax machines ruled the world only a mere decade ago, being the most efficient way to get those files from anywhere in the world in relatively real time. Between email and cloud technology that is a thing of the past. Now we can store and send large files, particularly posters, and other marketing materials anywhere in an instant. We are no longer beholden to being in the same room with someone to be able to work on a project with them.
If you’re a printer it means you’re no longer responsible for getting customers back their hard drive or thumb drive if you’re taking advantage of cloud technologies like DropBox in order to have them get large files to you. This saves everyone time, money and anxiety. Consider how your business can take advantage of Cloud technologies and the savings it can provide you.
How Video is Changing the Game
The next best thing to meeting someone in person, is experiencing them through video. Video is quickly becoming the method by which people feel most comfortable absorbing information. Sites like Lynda.com are changing how we approach education and training. Nearly every product and service based industry is taking advantage of this to educate their customers.
But Video goes beyond the customer. You can use videos for internal training and documenting a process, ensuring the information is understood and able to be executed on more effectively. Instead of reading step by step instructions on how to use a piece of software, you can now allow people to see the execution of the tools step by step and hear instructions that add a whole other level of context to the experience. They can pause the video and try and replicate the same steps they just experienced at any time.
While the education and training opportunities video can provide are great, there is still a whole dimension of video marketing to consider. Video marketing in terms of traditional broadcast media, still remains largely inaccessible to many small businesses. But that doesn’t mean they can’t leverage video reach a large audience even now. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and provides nearly unlimited opportunities for small businesses to market themselves at scale. If a lack of knowledge on how to use YouTube to Grow and Market Your Business is an issue you are facing, you may benefit from my series on the subject.
How Will You Future Proof Your Business?
You have to think about how you can position your business to be successful in 2015. What will the world look like in 2015? Clearly Mobile, Cloud and Video will become a much larger part of our everyday lives. Waiting to familiarize yourself with these technologies and how they can benefit your business, based on how successful you’ve been without them is positioning yourself for failure. You have to decide if you want to be the Blockbuster of your industry or the Netflix of your industry, but the reality in most cases is going to be somewhere in between, and that at least is a start.
Roberto Blake is a Graphic Designer who runs his own one man Design Studio, focusing on Brand Development and Advertising. Roberto has experience in design for print, web and multimedia and has worked on out of home campaigns including billboards featured in Times Square. He is a monthly contributor to Print Media Centr’s News From The Printerverse, and a frequent participant at #PrintChat on Twitter. He is also a contributor for publications such as Print Magazine and How Design and has had work featured in Advanced Photoshop Magazine. Roberto is extremely active in social media, producing multiple YouTube videos each week to assist designers and other creative professionals through advice and tutorials.