Internet and Digital Technologies in Business
I used to work in the head quarters of Vivint Company, a security and home automation company dealing with sensors and detectors, high-speed Internet solutions and local cloud storage services. The company specializes as a smart security solution provider and has a stand by security response team that can reach homes in less than 2 hours upon alarm. It started in 1999, by our Director, whom I will call Gordon. He identified business opportunity in the security solutions market. The strategy immediately employed in the dealing was the use of the personal approach in sales of the high-quality product. The firm has been in action for the last over one decade and has experienced relative growth in every facet of commercial interest. The firm has grown in business, and current has 850,000 installed systems across the United States and Canada and has over 7,000 employees with healthy employee turnover. The company has seen robust growth during its 16 years of operation, but importantly within the last five years. These last 5 years have seen the diversification of the products of business, adoption of much technology and also expanded employee skills.
The company’s CEO has been at the forefront in seeing extended operation. The net value of the business has grown from $ 10 million within the first 5 years of business to $ 200 million by the end of the previous financial year. The success so far has been pillared on appreciating the dynamism of the technology that characterizes the security solution sector. For the initial ten years of function, the Vivint Company mainly dealt in security sensors, CCTV cameras and detectors, installation of home cameras among others. It also majored in security solution consultancy for homes and firms across the United States and Canada. However, internet evolution was still slow and the company had not appreciated the significant role this tool would have in development. Things would be done manually in the offices and it was a tedious work in most departments. Vital operations such as placing orders, business analysis, and employee management were done and supervised manually. The business became quite hard. Employee Management was majorly manual. Order and contract outsourcing, which was being done by our competitors through the internet, we did manually. We would send product ambassadors with loads of products to the field for days.
In turn it guzzled down our resources and increased business cost. Data entry took long hours and the result was quite inconsistent with a lot of errors. The errors, in this case, result from miss-keying information and human exhaustion. Further, in conferences where our competitors did product presentation via video calls and video conferencing, we had to spend money in physically send representatives. Further, the business standing depended on the good will of the individuals making it hard to verify the work of each employee. The verification process took quite long time and much money. Besides, these lots of manual work saw the company spend much in employee emoluments and benefits. Much cost was incurred by the organization in training and inductions. The total employee number was around 15,000 by the end of the 10th year. Information sharing and report handling was a nightmare.
These, among other critical setbacks, made our business operate at near margin for close to a decade. Comparatively speaking, our company has stagnated in growth. Our peer competitors who handle almost the same line of business now had high turnover rates, with lean workforce by the time we celebrated a decade in business. The secret was that they discovered the role of internet and automation at a quite early stage. In essences, we were stagnating because of our lacklustre approach towards technology and the internet. This revelation of an audit was startling. The company then Commissioned adoption of technology-oriented attitude to bolster our business. Before this decision, the company’s executive staff researched widely and used the success story of Atlas Doors. Atlas Doors was small in size yet embraced the internet and digital technologies. They embraced the technology in the product organization, market/ business outsourcing, process scheduling, both for starting and completing at the same time.
There are numerous implementations that the organization has made. They have enforced its order entry, engineering processing, business analysis and pricing. For example, the Atlas could price and schedule 95% of its orders while the callers were still on call. It was so incredible. The result was a flourishing story that we could only imagine then. The company accepted the challenge and used this as the case study. The first step was benchmarking studies, involving key employees and the executive officials visiting the Atlas premises. The idea that Atlas used was non-proprietary meaning they could be emulated. The company spent close to $100 million in the installation of necessary equipment, out phasing redundant technologies and employee training. A section of us even doubted that such immense investment could not be obligatory at once. But the insisted on moving on with the program. We were working on a projected growth target that spanned over five years. It was in 2009.
Looking back, the internet and digital platform have swept across economies in the United States. It is important to note, though, that the technology phenomena come with a host of challenges. The fact that it swept across the economy meant that our competition had gone up. Ordinarily outsmarting our competitors required intelligence and incredible creativity. It needed the Vivint Company to be a float with immediate innovations, and update the system about the possibilities and constraints in the business. There was a remarkable change in the operations. The overall cost leadership was among the advantages. The digital policy roped in low-cost advantage decision that enabled posting of increase realized profits. The ability of the internet to lower the transaction cost and in turn business cost was so transforming. The cost of business went down considerably. The bloated workforce in the firm was greatly down sized by the management. Even though this meant paying much pension to the early retirees, it meant investment in itself to us. Further, the cost of sending our business associates to the field for trade outsourcing was no more as these could be comfortably done online by the organization.
The expense of leasing large offices was reduced by the management since the policy of working from home became a reality. The much money spent in retrenchment has so far been almost quadrupled by the cost reductions within five years. Another phenomenon that was a cowboy for our business was intermediation. We spent millions of dollars in intermediation to reach our final clientele. However, with the installation of digital platform, the target customers were buttons away. Further, communication costs went down considerably. Even though the registrar of companies requires companies to operate postal addresses internet communication had eliminated for us the cost of maintaining such mailing address. The company opened internet email addresses for data sharing and communication and modalities smooth communication with our associates. Away from the low-cost advantages, the company was able to improve its product marketing and differentiation capacities. It has been able to build its brand and offer top of the market merchandise and services.
As a result of this, Vivint Company has emerged a foremost home security and smart home technology service provider. Among the array of services it offers are energy conservation and management, home security services and consultancy, home automation, high-speed Internet solutions and local cloud storage services to close to a million customers. Besides, the confines of our business have enlarged to include the United States and Canada. It led to a smart home solution that saves you time and money and ultimately simplifies your life. The differentiation also enhanced our customer interface and relations. In other words, there was improved mass customization enabling prompt response to customer wishes. This concept entailed a revolutionized way of marketing. Integration of the ancient techniques such as sales representatives and calls, paper-based methods such as brochures, catalogs, personality endorsements among others and digital techniques enhanced customer reach. This decision was based on the fact that the modern customer is knowledgeable.
The customers judge and discriminate against the products and services depending on the ability of the providers to respond to their wishes. They demand involvement in the designing, branding and packaging of the products. Creativity is paramount in achieving these. The company crafted a customer relation department with a toll-free hotline for better communication. Customer care experts were hired by the firm in response to this. These packages of differentiation saw an overwhelming customer response to our products. It contributed to our overall cost leadership policies in the business. Another advantage that came with the digitization of operations increased market research and a more tailored approach to clienteles. The internet has opened new frontiers of opportunity for the business to offer more specialized services in even small pockets of the market. It is a niche in which we could not operate before.
The internet has enabled the firm to craft these focus strategies to achieve competitive advantages over the others. Indeed, the script changed, from a stagnating firm ten years after inception to a sharp shooting one five years after adopting the technology. It is important to underscore that some of the advantages of the internet and digitization are not very sustainable. It is owing to the fact that it is a domain which is very dynamic in nature and requires a lot of geniuses to remain competitive. In the light of this, our company devised a way of partnering some of the strategies to achieve a sustainable e-business policy. Besides, this platform enhances the quality assurance and control section. The product quality certification as a result of e-business policy would be done through the internet. The company procured quality assurance and control soft ware’s and systems and installed them in computers of the in-charge departments. The systems were so automated such that it did not depend on who keys the data in. This eliminated inconsistencies observed with human working. Further, internet technologies enhanced our accessing of markets outside the country. It is because of reduced barriers to the markets.
Despite the benefits canvassed above, there were challenges, indeed teething problems in the use of internet technologies in business. Some of the pitfalls of technology intensiveness are the possibilities of imitation. Putting every detail of the business online may not be healthy, especially in the face of the competitive business environment. Otherwise, one may be playing right on the hands of the enemies. In the era of online and social media advertising, care should be taken to put much regulation on the amount of information released for public consumption. Quality maintenance policies, involving anti-virus need to be developed to avoid losing vital information due to file corruption. Most of the soft ware’s and innovations need strict patenting under proprietary laws to avoid imitation. Another disadvantage of the internet use geared towards cost-cutting in most cases has seen most organization ignoring customer physical contacting strategies. Some of the strategies that are the casualty to cost-cutting methods include minimized field days, closing down most customer centers and even laying off some of the skilled employees.
There is always a slight challenge with differentiation. When the company does differentiation in such a way that its products are unique in a way that the customer do not want, then it may not serve the intended purpose. It therefore, means that resources must be pumped by the organization on researching the customer’s taste before deciding on the way to go. To improve the use of the internet and digital media platform in a sustainable way I would propose that the Vivint Company create a fully fledged research section to do underhand support work. The research section would help the internet by feeding information that is well researched. In this way, this would ensure sustained way. Further, the company should install a competent legal team to avoid unnecessary legal battles with competitors. This would ensure proper guidance in case of disputes. When handling lots of information and procuring data protection soft ware’s, there is the need to check validity and proper licensing.
The Proper legal cover would reduce predisposition to court battles. Further, the company should embrace proper and modern customer service technology that is not only reliable but also cost effective. As has been mentioned above, with the booming proceeds of internet and digitization, the customer can easily be given less priority in austerity drives. The company should take great caution not fall in this trap. This can be ensured by collecting data constantly on customer satisfaction and subsequent analysis for action. The company should also strengthen quality checks, ensuring that the company remains not only the regional leader in the sphere of specialization but also globally. Innovation and creativity is the hub that harbours the success of the company. This should be nurtured through various schemes deliberately put in place. The challenge of management is how to help our businesses thrive and remain a float while facing mounting unrelenting competition in a dynamic and ever-changing business environment. The field of our company is quite knowledge intensive.