Digital solutions are no longer optional--companies must embed a digital-first approach into every facet of the business if they expect to grow in today's hyper-competitive marketplace.

Digital solutions are no longer optional–companies must embed a digital-first approach into every facet of the business if they expect to grow in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace.

Amazon made headlines again when they recently announced they’ll be hiring 50,000 jobsacross the country. Considering this hiring surge accounts for nearly one-quarter of the 222,000 jobs that the U.S. added in June of this year, I think it’s safe to assume Amazon is experiencing a growth phase.

Yet, as with any expansion, Amazon is likely facing a slew of challenges as they welcome new workers into the fold. Is each facility prepared to handle the influx of employees? Can the current human resources system manage a massive spike in users? Is the company generating enough revenue to support 50,000 new wages?

I have no doubt that Amazon is well prepared to handle this expansion, but this is not always the case for most businesses. In fact, last year, the Kauffman Foundation and Inc. Magazine discovered that nearly two-thirds of companies that had previously been on Inc.’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies list had either been sold, reduced, or gone bust.

While growing pains can make or break a company, there are a number of digital solutions you can adopt that will make the expansion much easier. Why? Because companies that embed digital into their everyday operations are more agile than traditional businesses when it comes to managing change. This agility will come in handy when you need to make a last-minute pivot to handle the demands that come with any growth phase.

So, if you’re going through growing pains (or are hoping to in the near future), here are four digital solutions you’ll want to consider:

1. Incorporate data into everyday decision-making

As your company grows and expands, it’s important to keep a close eye on performance both internally and externally. And the best way to monitor this is by measuring and tracking data. With the right data-driven dashboard in place, you’ll be able to:

  • Empower leaders to make difficult hiring and firing decisions by using data that backs those decisions.

  • Put new policies into place that are supported by persuasive numbers.

  • Provide leadership with a better idea on where operations may need to change, which will enable them to streamline the business.

But, for many smaller companies, the first step is to start tracking and storing data in the first place. Unlike larger corporations, small businesses tend to be lacking in this area.

If you want to start tracking data externally, consider implementing a customer relationship management tool and investing in analytics on your website, marketing campaigns, or apps. For internal data tracking, project management tools and time-tracking software can yield a treasure trove of insight. In both cases, however, you’ll need to put controls in place that will enable you to collect Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and use dashboards to contextualize the data.

2. Ditch the paper

Growing a business puts a demand on resources, so you’ll want to find ways to cut costs throughout the process. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to ditch the paper.

Whether it’s by getting rid of paper contracts, enforcing a new policy on e-statements, or removing printers from the office, digital communications can save your company quite a bit of money. It will also dramatically streamline your processes and operations.

3. Create an omni office environment

I touched on this in a recent article, but if you’re outgrowing your current office space, then consider what it might take to create an omni office workspace for your employees.

While companies like IBM and Yahoo are no longer allowing employees to work remotely, a hybrid approach might be the best solution when it comes to creating an effective work-from-home policy. But no matter what you decide to do, enabling your employees to spend some time working from home can help keep overhead costs low, while potentially increasing productivity.

4. Constantly monitor the latest technology trends

Can virtual assistants improve your company’s order fulfillment process? Can AR or VR enable your team to create prototypes that are easily shared across continents? Will IoT devices and smart sensors work to reduce manufacturing costs? Maybe or maybe not, but if you are not at least aware of these trends, you will not be able to make informed decisions about which might be applicable to your company.

The latest technology trends could be the key to getting your company through a growth phase with ease. But if you don’t know what’s happening, then the opportunity to integrate this tech into your operations will never see the light of day.

Wrapping up

If growth and expansion are on the horizon for your business, you’ll want to make sure your company is digitally mature before you get too big to function. You can bet Amazon is taking full advantage of digital solutions as they expand their workforce and you can do so today by taking the above into account.

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