What’s your New Year’s digital resolution?

What’s your ‘old world’ business habit?

Perhaps it’s using a paper diary or the printed Yellow Pages. Perhaps you call people habitually instead of shooting off a quick email. Or you may conduct all of your meetings in person. Or hand-write invoices, etc, etc.

No matter how switched on we are (or think we are), anyone older than 25 is likely to be engaging in a behaviour that may well have long gone the way of the dodo – or at the very least the dial-up modem.

Not that there’s anything really wrong with that. There are no laws against using older technology. But where it may be a problem is by costing your organisation valuable productivity.

Not just technology for technology’s sake

As much as it seems many simply want to be seen using the latest physical or virtual gadget, in most cases there are real and measurable benefits to embracing a technological advance.

Take websites, for example. While their marketing benefits are well documented, what is less obvious is the productivity benefit they provide. And that isn’t hard to measure. A fairly basic assumption is that without a website, all of your website visitors would have had to contact you by either phone, email or, heaven forbid, mail!

The industry you work in will determine how long you typically spend dealing with an issue, but a fair rule of thumb is 10 minutes per call/communication. Now, in the past month, my business has had a not unhealthy 2200 unique visits. At 10 minutes per visitor, that’s a whopping 22,000 minutes or 366 hours of communication time our website has saved us.

And for a micro business, that is a very significant saving indeed.

Really measurable ROI

Again, it’s a metric many fail to consider when measuring their website’s Return on Investment.

And the digital world is full of productivity gains just like it.

Hopefully you will be well aware of your technology deficiencies, but in case your memory needs jogging, here’s a few suggestions to consider as your New Year’s digital resolution.

1. Plan a new website (or at least a renovation)

Depending on whose data you believe, anywhere between a third and a half of all small business still don’t have a website. And of those that do, you can count on another half again that are out of date and requiring urgent renovation.

At the same time, website (and now .mobi site) visitors are getting more and more discerning about which websites they will bother doing business with, so make it a priority to upgrade to something that looks like it belongs in this millennium.

2. Start a Facebook (or other) account

As much as you may get a personal benefit from a Facebook account, the point here is to gain an understanding of how people use it and in turn how it can benefit your business.

If not Facebook, then LinkedIn or another which you think your customers might populate.

3. Make a list of email/social networking topics

As pointed out here in recent weeks, post-worthy and share-worthy content represents a brilliant opportunity to promote your business for next to nothing.

So spend some time making a list of the types of things you can post about during 2013.

4. Switch off the printer

A very common habit of the 2012 business operator is handling correspondence the way we used to – i.e. by printing, actioning and filing when complete.

Why not help save the planet and your real estate requirements by leaving it on your desktop or device and dealing with it digitally – no alliteration intended…

5. Try web conferencing instead of meeting in-person

Anyone who’s been in business long enough knows how time consuming in-person meetings are. By the time you’ve dealt with the travel time, niceties and cups of tea, you’ve probably expended double the time you’ve needed to and sometimes a whole lot more.

Teleconferencing or more recent web conferencing are fantastic ways to keep meetings short, sharp and free of travel. Not that the odd in-person meeting isn’t an important way to prevent digital cabin fever.

6. Minimise data duplication

It’s one of the biggest time-wasters in business. And it’s happening to a business near you. The amount of unnecessary duplication occurring in business today is nothing short of staggering – all when we now have the means to reduce data to an absolute minimum.

It’s important to try to minimise as much of it from your business as you can. The savings can be enormous.

Whatever you decide, like a new fitness regime, make sure you plan and implement it well and take care not to slide back into old habits. The benefits will soon be obvious for all concerned.

This is the final Internet Secrets for the year, so I hope you have found it useful during 2012 and look forward to providing you more of the same in 2013. Now go have yourself a well-earned break!

In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team, which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.


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