Opening a new business location 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, having multiple business locations can make you feel like you’re running numerous businesses—not one.
Luckily, technology is evolving to support growing businesses. It’s no longer necessary to incur significant capital expenses installing legacy infrastructure in each location.
Here are four ways modern technology makes it easier to streamline your operations across multiple business locations.
1. Standardize Technology Processes and Policies
The first step to multi-location business connectivity 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 more effectively.
Here are some of the areas you should standardize across each of your business locations:
- IT support
- Network setup
- Equipment setup
- Technology planning
- Software platforms
- Technology training for employees
Not only does aligning your technology policies and processes simplify your business operations, but also 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. Transition to Cloud Computing
Cloud computing could be considered the ultimate business collaboration tool. It's much easier than the old system of downloading applications to individual computers or on-site servers. Cloud computing allows your teams—even your remote workforce— to easily collaborate and share data from anywhere, creating a streamlined approach to working with multiple locations.
Most organizations have already transitioned to cloud computing. And according to Gartner, 85% of businesses will adopt a cloud-first principle by 2025. The rapid growth of cloud computing isn’t surprising, considering the low costs and benefits of the technology.
3. Set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Collaboration, file sharing, and generally being on the same page are challenging for any business. These challenges are exacerbated when multiple business locations each have their own networks.
But modern technology has made connecting multiple offices with one network easier. 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 many companies 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 (A.I) 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 critical 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 how we connect multiple business locations.
Embrace the possibilities of these intelligent platforms to unify your multiple offices by generating business insights. Choose platforms that automatically monitor effectiveness and goals, and use those insights to make better decisions across your branches.
Streamline Your Operations with Innovative and Intelligent Technologies
Having multiple business locations is certainly an indicator of a successful company. Take advantage of today’s innovative technologies to streamline operations and unify multiple branches. It’s faster, easier, and more necessary than ever before to create connected workplaces.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on February 05, 2018, and has been updated for accuracy and current best practices.