10 Technologies for Small Businesses
Staying ahead in the brave new world is something all companies should be committed to, as technology is an important part of business whatever your field may be. Small businesses in particular should make the most of all the technologies available to them, as this can be a way of streamlining practices and maximizing efficiency. Finding the best strategy with which to do this is not always as easy as it seems, so finding a reliable computer support company may be the best path way to ensure you put your business in the right direction. Here are some of the ways tech can help your business.
It was not so long ago that artificial intelligence was a thing of science fiction fantasy,
but now it’s an increasingly-used tool for the office, as well as outside the workplace. AI can be anything from voice assistants, personal assistants and chatbots to smart email marketing from platforms like MailChimp. It can automate tasks in human resources to speed up candidate screening processes, and it can also analyze phone conversations with customers to suggest how sales could be improved upon. Small businesses may be slower to adopt AI than their larger counterparts, but the AI revolution is just beginning so there is still time to make the upgrade.
Though still in its early stages, 5G technology is predicted to impact business by reduced delays in communication enabling a vast improvement in the connection between multiple devices. Along with the fast-growing ubiquity of the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G could represent a considerable progression for SMEs, and especially ones that rely on inter-connectivity. It is also expected to make a big difference to gaming, augmented reality and virtual reality, as well as the downloading of large files.
Another buzz phrase for the modern world, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a way of organizing interaction with customers, analyzing customer data and providing sales performance metrics through customer profiles. Data is gathered from various channels including websites, live chat, email and social media, in order to focus more on the target consumer base and respond accordingly. The main aims are to improve customer relationships and retain customers, as a 5% reduction in customer defection rate can increase profits from between 25% and 85%, as found in a study by Harvard Business Review.
Social Media Advertising is an easy way for small businesses to engage customers in the digital age, and now it’s becoming standard practice for businesses to keep Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Advertising through social media involves the use of pay-per-click advertising, as the personalized consumer experience is becoming a norm, and people see the products they are more likely to want to buy. With 54% of millennials using social media to research products before making a purchase, it’s not a means of marketing that should be overlooked.
For all businesses, learning and expanding knowledge and experience is crucial to development. However, traveling to events and training sessions costs both time and money. Fortunately, this is not always necessary thanks to the large amounts of educational resources online, which are also low in price, or free. Online training gives business owners the chance to educate themselves and their employees in a wide range of topic areas, from which the business can benefit as a result.
For the smaller businesses that aren’t able to invest in costly commercial software packages, open-source software can offer a free and often more flexible alternative. Such useful types of software could be OpenOffice.org, an office suite that includes word processing, presentations and spreadsheets. Odoo can be used for project management, accounting, inventory management, billing and purchasing, while MariaDB is for keeping track of large amounts of data and databases, and ChartBlocks helps with building charts from databases.
Teleconferencing is another way that business has changed dramatically, with the option of conducting conference calls with groups of team members at clients in various locations. This removes the need for meetings in the flesh, while keeping everyone connected with much greater ease. Free services include Skype, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, GoToMeeting, which allows up to 15 participants, or ConferenceCalls.com, which provides a full range of conferencing services and functionality.
There are an increasing number of time tracking tools being used by small businesses, and these can help when billing clients or for keeping track of how company time is being spent so that this can be consciously addressed by streamlining practices and managing time more efficiently. There is now a range of user-friendly software programs available which can also be used on mobile devices. These include TSheets, uAttend, TimeWriter and Core.
In the US, the market for Mobile Payments is predicted to reach $3 trillion by 2020, while in the UK cashless payments are predicted to account for 75% of all transactions. These figures represent a trend that should not be taken lightly by the small business owners that take regular payments from customers, as the growth of mobile cannot be ignored. With mobile payments your customers can make purchases quickly and more easily, and you can find access to more customer information, and build stronger customer loyalty.
With the industry to be worth more than $200 billion before the end of the year and predicted to expand massively in the next few years, cloud services are something that businesses of all sizes should have cottoned on to by now. However, so much more than simple storage and backup, cloud products also include software as a service (SaaS), containers and microservices, not to mention a range of cloud-based services that are developing by the second.
So, it’s no longer a time for the finest technology to be the privilege of the multinational corporations – smaller businesses now have access to tools and software that could barely be imagined a short while ago. Of course, there’s often a premium on the more desirable packages, but with a little know-how, resourcefulness and wisdom, the best tricks and tools of cutting edge technology can be harnessed and put to astonishing use. And with a little assistance from your well chosen tech solutions, it may not be long before the word “small” won’t be used to describe your business.
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