By Susan E. Campbell
All business owners look for ways to increase their bottom lines by working smarter and Internet technology often helps them to do just that.
But businesses can rely on technology too much, said Allan D. Robison, president and CEO of EXEControl Global Solutions headquartered in Clifton Park.
“Computer programs are written so that people do the right things at the right time, like order materials before inventory runs out,” said Robison. “But when the software tells you to do something that doesn’t sound practical, someone ought to question it.”
Robison said there was a time in Hershey’s history when its ERP system told the company not to make more chocolate bars.
“No one stayed engaged, Halloween came, and there wasn’t enough product on the shelves,” he said.
The goal of software solutions is to help businesses make intelligent decisions while keeping them engaged, Robison said, adding that “if the software is too sophisticated, people will give up and just hope that the computer is right.”
EXEControl is a company that is continually looking for ways to provide clients with greater insight and intelligence, he said. The firm offers business software solutions and an ERP/CRM suite for manufacturers, business advisory for a better competitive advantage, and network management services for a secure and responsive IT infrastructure.
“IT is a necessity for every company,” he said. “It functions to harden the system to prevent hacking, repair computers, solve network glitches, and perform other maintenance.”
Consequently, most companies look at IT simply as a necessary expense line on the balance sheet, typically representing six to seven percent of revenue. And for many businesses, IT stops right there. But that is not an adequate reflection of IT’s true value, according Robison.
“We encourage taking IT to the next level to make it productive,” he said.
If the first level is IT as a necessity, then the next level is taking the technology and asking how to use it to the company’s competitive advantage, said Robison.
“The company that knows how to manage information best is going to be the most successful,” said Robison
With information management as the driver, Robison said EXEControl has helped a client company with $12 million in sales grow to $250 million in sales, a company with three locations grow to 100 locations, and a company that was the 19th largest become the sixth largest in its competitive universe.
One other business was helped to grow 20 times after learning that it was making different promises at different prices. These case studies show how companies can grow in size, profitability, and market share through an experienced IT partnership.
The mission of EXEControl is to transfer control back into the hands of business owners by letting software do the calculations and keeping everyone informed, thus allowing executives the time to make informed decisions, Robison said.
“We try to align a company’s capabilities with what they can offer for more success, and that means building systems,” he said. “Some businesses that replace their software every few years never really become better as a company.“
EXEControl’s technique, therefore, is to “bring technology in, design processes rather than recycle what is there, and exploit it for the sake of the business.“
Most businesses know why they’re successful. Robison said that with the proper software in place, that now dictates what will make them successful.
One company “doubled its business overnight” simply by allowing electronic communications with its customers, he said.
“Every time the company received payment from the customer there was an automatic email back to the customer,” he said. “The customer is happy because you have integrated your process into their’s. That’s a customer who will stick.”
Another strategy that makes customers “sticky” is the ability for the company representative to see all of the client’s purchase history on a computer screen when they call in.
Solutions are different from company to company, but the commonality is what technology can do that the company was not doing before. Technology becomes a tool for productivity rather than simply an expense item.
“There are new challenges all the time. To stay ahead of the competition, enhance your technology to enhance your company, and it can be profitable and grow,” he said.
“Every year there is a new opportunity to take advantage of what technology offers,” Robinson said. “We can help identify what software would work well for them and help them grow through a combination of increased revenue, a reduction in expenses, or a reduction in errors.”
Most people who have built a business are in business because of the personal touch and they care, so customers keep them in business, said Robison.
“We don’t want software to change that in anyway,” he said. “We work to preserve what has helped them do well, then find ways to make them better.”