5 critical technologies for 2022
December 2021/January 2022 Footnote
Editor's note: Updated November 29, 2021
As every business professional knows, adequate planning is required to ensure success. Of course, with the ever-changing landscape of technology, appropriate planning is necessary to ensure team members can use their technology efficiently, effectively and securely. Here are five technologies you should plan for to guarantee success in 2022:
- Windows 11.
- Microsoft Office 2021 and Microsoft 365.
- Robotic process automation.
- Communication and collaboration platforms.
- Payment technologies.
Windows 11 is here; is your organization ready?
Microsoft released Windows 11 on Oct. 5 as a free upgrade for all Windows users. The newest version of the operating system offers improved performance and security and several new features designed to improve productivity. Microsoft will “push” Windows 11 to all Windows users through the Windows Update process. However, not all computers today can run Windows 11 in a supported environment because of enhanced hardware requirements. You can learn about these system requirements by visiting the Microsoft Windows 11 support website.
From a planning perspective, you should ensure that your existing hardware and applications will run and remain supported on Windows 11. Further, you will need to train all team members to take advantage of the new productivity features offered through this operating system.
Should you upgrade to Microsoft Office 2021 or Microsoft 365?
Microsoft also released Office 2021 on Oct. 5. The latest version of Office adds many new features in Excel, Word, PowerPoint and other Office applications. For Office 2019 and prior users, the new features available in Office 2021 provide excellent options for enhancing productivity. Most organizations using older versions of Office will find the upgrade to be a sound investment.
If you’re planning to upgrade to Office 2021, you should begin planning your upgrade strategy soon. As with Windows 11, ensure that your computer has the necessary resources, and that appropriate training is provided so that all users can take full advantage of the new features.
A critical factor when considering upgrading to a newer version of Office is to evaluate whether a license provided through a Microsoft 365 subscription would be a better option. Subscription-based versions of Office offer access to new features as often as monthly. In this environment, you do not wait two to three years for a new, “major” release of an application. Therefore, you can take advantage of new features much sooner than if you use a perpetual license.
Embrace robotic process automation
Though not a new technology, robotic process automation (RPA) is now maturing and moving into the mainstream. RPA offers businesses the advantage of automated transaction processing, and most organizations can take advantage of RPA with very little out-of-pocket investment required.
Consider the following example of applying RPA in a business environment. Suppose you would like to automate the approval process of team members’ paid time off (PTO) requests. First, you could use RPA to automatically route a team member’s PTO request form to the appropriate person for approval. Then, assuming the manager approves the request, RPA could extract the relevant details from the form and enter those into the proper database, again, without any human intervention.
Many of today’s RPA tools are “no-code, low-code” solutions, meaning that no programming experience or skills are necessary to implement RPA automation. Further, tools such as Zapier and Microsoft’s Power Automate provide numerous templates you can use as-is or customize to address specific needs.
From a planning perspective, now is the time to begin considering how your organization could benefit from RPA and what business processes you should plan to automate in 2022. When implemented appropriately, RPA promises reduced costs, improved efficiency and enhanced internal accounting controls.
Consolidate communication and collaboration platforms
No doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic forever changed how many businesses operate, including allowing — and even encouraging — remote work environments. In these situations, we must address communication and collaboration to guarantee productivity does not suffer. Unfortunately, many businesses have implemented various platforms throughout the past 21 months without considering which systems would serve their interests best. As a result, many organizations now have multiple communication and collaboration platforms in place. This circumstance requires team members to know how to work with all the applications and adds unnecessary expense.
Take action now to identify all the platforms that team members are using. As part of this task, identify all the “shadow” systems that team members implemented independently and without involving your IT staff. Then determine which platform(s) serve your needs best and cancel the subscriptions for the other tools. Not only will your company save money, but team members will be more effective because they will have fewer platforms to master.
Upgrade your payment technologies
How businesses and individuals make payments has changed considerably during the past decade. While many still use checks and cash to settle debts, the trend is undeniably moving toward electronic payments — and for good reasons! Electronic payments cut collections cycles dramatically, reduce the risk of fraud and, in many cases, eliminate the need to enter payment receipts into an accounting application manually.
Companies such as Corpay, Melio and Intuit provide payment processing platforms that allow your customers to pay their bills electronically, with no cost to the customer and little or no cost to your business. If your organization does not presently accept electronic payments, now is the time to begin planning how to implement electronic payments successfully in 2022.
The bottom line
With so many new and emerging technologies available, it can be challenging to identify and implement those that can have an immediate, positive impact on your bottom line. Yet, if your organization falls behind in this area, reduced productivity and security, higher costs and customer dissatisfaction can all materialize — and likely will! Therefore, now is the time to begin crafting your technology plans for 2022. As you do, consider the five technologies identified in this article, focusing on how these tools can benefit your team members. Remember, failing to do so can provide competitive advantages to your competitors — something you surely don’t want to do!
Tommy Stephens Jr. is a shareholder of K2 Enterprises. At K2, Tommy focuses on creating and delivering content and is responsible for many firm management and marketing functions. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about K2 Enterprises, visit www.k2e.com.
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