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  • Matt Moloney

Digital solutions for real-world problems: How to fit technology in economic development

It can be overwhelming to try and discover all of the technology in economic development while also trying to build a local economy. However, finding the right digital tools can help streamline your work—allowing you to leave the paperwork behind to spend time with your local community.

In this article, we’ll help you identify what level your organization may be at and share what you can do to level up.

Level 0

At Level 0, your organization is not using any digital or cloud-based solutions to enhance your development work. You might be using Microsoft Office, Outlook or perhaps Sharepoint to create and collaborate on documents, but most of your work is manual and lives on your desktop computer. You have to share notes from businesses via email or physically on paper.

How to level up your technology in economic development

Get a Customer relationship management (CRM) tool that is cloud based. At its simplest, a CRM is an online directory of all of your “customers” (i.e. your businesses, partners and other important individuals or organizations that you work with).

Similar to a contact list, you can create custom sections or “fields” to keep important information, such as name, phone number, address and notes.

For CRM tools built for economic development, you can even keep track of specific information related to your business, such as revenue, number of employees and NAICS code. A CRM can enhance your business strategy but at its simplest, it allows you to share contact information and notes among the whole department with ease.

CRM - Technology in Economic Development

Level 1

At Level 1, your organization is using a similar strategy, but has upgraded to a cloud-based solution to share that information. You may be using a combination of Microsoft Office, Outlook, Sharepoint as well as the Google Suite to create collaborative documents, surveys and materials. You can share notes from businesses via collaborative documents and have been able to gather information from companies digitally.

How to level up your technology in economic development

Start using a notes or survey tool that can integrate with your email. If you’re already using a CRM, tools built for economic development allow you to create surveys within the CRM that automatically populate the data into your system.

This will reduce the amount of time that you spend switching from platform to platform and you can see all the information about each business, partner, or individual in their own profile.

CRM - Survey - Technology in Economic Development

Level 2

At Level 2, your organization embraces technology in your strategy. You may be using the tools above, but you’ve added in a project management system, such as or Asana.

This project management system has allowed your team to view each other’s progress on certain projects and you can communicate directly on certain projects or accounts. Perhaps you’re also using a cloud-based survey provider like Mailchimp, Google Surveys, or govDelivery to survey and information with your community.

At Level 2, your organization may also be working on a homegrown system that your IT team has made or was developed by a legacy provider. These systems may have important notes or be used widely among staff, but run on internal servers or lack cloud-based capabilities. You may not be able to access your notes while you’re in the field talking to businesses and have to transcribe notes once you’re back at your desk.

How to level up your technology in economic development

Use a project management tool that is all in one. Right now, you have all the tools you need, but you’re switching back and forth between multiple platforms—relying on IT to manage multiple logins and potentially over-spending on subscriptions.

By using an all-in-one tool like Bludot that has a CRM, project management and survey capability, you can simplify your workflow and make it even easier to use data to inform your economic development strategy.

Bludot is also cloud-based, which allows you to access the data with just an internet connection, adding resilience to your department and making it easier to access your notes in the field.

CRM - PM - Technology in Economic Development

Level 3

At Level 3, your organization is embracing technology to become a part of your workflow and your strategy. You’re able to have all the capabilities at Level 2, but with a single log-in, reducing workflow clutter and increasing information sharing.

You might even be using Bludot.

How to level up your technology in economic development

Start adding other cloud-based tools to other pieces of your strategy. Other tools, like Bludot Open, can provide a digital and cloud-based small business directory. You can also digitize your shop local campaigns with Open Rewards, which can help you capture the true economic impact of your work.

No matter how you’re currently using technology in your economic development work, there’s always a way you can level up to make your work easier and more impactful.

If you’re interested in finding the right set of digital solutions for your community, schedule a call with Bludot today.


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