Having multiple business locations is exciting. It’s a measure of your organization’s success, allows you to expand your reach, and brings even more great people onto your team.
But sometimes, it can feel like you’re running multiple businesses—not one. You want to set up your business technology so that your separate locations can communicate, collaborate, and share information easily and effectively.
Luckily, technology is evolving like never before to support growing businesses. It’s no longer necessary to incur large capital expenses installing legacy infrastructure in each location. Here are four ways that today's technology makes it easier than ever to streamline your operations across multiple business locations.
1. Standardize technology processes and policies
The first step to true connection doesn’t begin with having the right equipment or network setup; it starts with aligning your team. For businesses with multiple locations, having standardized technology processes and policies allows each branch to communicate and collaborate effectively when it comes to business technology.
Here are some of the areas you should standardize across each of your business locations:
- Network setup
- Equipment setup
- Technology planning
- Software platforms
- IT support
- Technology training for employees
Not only does aligning your technology policies and processes simplify your business operations, but it means that your staff can spend less time trying to solve the nuances from office to office and focus more on the business.
2. Move to cloud computing
Cloud computing could be considered the ultimate business collaboration tool. Simply put, cloud computing allows you to run all of your business applications and computer functions over the internet. This is in contrast to the old system of downloading applications on to your computer or a server in your building.
According to Forbes, cloud computing spending is growing at 4.5 times the rate of IT spending since 2009, and is expected to grow at better than 6 times the rate of IT spending from 2015 through 2020. The rapid growth isn’t surprising; the benefits of cloud computing comprise a long list. When it comes to connecting remote offices, nothing will provide greater continuity, control, and assurance than the cloud.
Cloud computing provides your teams—even your remote workforce— the ability to easily collaborate and share data from anywhere, creating a streamlined approach to working with multiple locations.
3. Set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Collaboration, file sharing, and generally being on the same page are challenging for any business, but they can be made even more challenging when multiple business locations each have their own networks.
The traditional solution was for businesses to implement Wide Area Networks (WANs) to connect remote offices. WANs are used to connect LANs, or Local Area Networks, which is what many businesses use as their primary network. But the overhead and installation costs for WANs are expensive, and there are better solutions today.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) allow users to send and receive data securely across private networks using the Internet. In other words, even though the Internet is a public network, VPNs create a secure connection that enables your remote business locations to share data as if it was being shared on a private network.
VPNs have several upsides.They provide more secure site-to-site connections, and they transfer information much faster than WANs. VPNs are also much less expensive, since you can use a single leased line to the Internet for each office, cutting down on broadband costs.
4. Embrace machine learning for business applications
Whether you talk to Siri on your iPhone or Alexa in your home, artificial intelligence has started to play a major role in consumers’ lives. But these intelligent virtual assistants can do much more than give you directions to the nearest coffee shop.
Machine learning is becoming more important to the business landscape as platforms are developed for enterprise solutions that offer specifically customized services for businesses. From business operations and scheduling to in-depth research, machine learning is shaping the future of our workplaces—and the way we connect multiple business locations.
Embrace the possibilities of these intelligent platforms to unify your multiple offices by generating business insights. Choose platforms that will automatically monitor effectiveness and goals, and use those insights to make better decisions across each of your branches.
Having multiple business locations is certainly an indicator of a successful company. Take advantage of today’s innovative technologies to streamline your operations and align your multiple locations. It’s faster, easier, and more necessary than ever before to create connected workplaces.