4 Technologies Every Small Business Should Know About
Owning a small business is rarely easy. There are so many plates to spin – looking after existing customers, finding new customers, keeping a firm grip on budgets, managing the supply chain, building your brand, getting the marketing right and attracting and keeping great staff – all while trying to stay ahead of the competition. Unsurprisingly, finding the time to organize everything can be a huge headache. Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of technology.
We live in an age of unprecedented and rapid tech development, with countless innovations designed to make living and working easier. The right technology can get you organised and make you more efficient than ever, saving you time and money while giving you that all-important edge on your competitors.
If you’re looking to get your operation working smarter and faster, here are 4 pieces of tech you need to know about.
Clunky hardware, on-site software and costly IT servers are being consigned to the dustbin of history. Businesses across the world are switching over to remote “cloud” based tech to handle their systems, data management and storage. Cloud computing is nothing new, but it has taken a long time for many businesses to adopt it. However, with home-working surging due to COVID-19, the tech is now reaching critical mass as businesses large and small pivot to cloud systems to allow owners and employees alike to work from any location, at any time. The benefits can be huge for a small business. Running costs can be squashed with no expensive and energy-burning servers. Staff collaboration is improved with everyone accessing and working from the same documents and files. Software can be easily updated, adding new software or tools is child’s play and all the time-consuming backend management is eliminated. Cloud solutions make business better, no matter what size the operation is.
So, you’re going to switch your business over to the cloud, but how to get the best out of it? That’s where specialized software comes in. Every business, no matter how big or small, and regardless of sector, relies on admin to keep everything operating on an even keel. Whether it’s booking meetings, managing cash flow, paying staff or suppliers or monitoring inventory, the better and quicker these are handled, the more efficient the business. The right software will allow you to minimize admin and spend your time in the right way – winning business and keeping customers happy. Whatever part of your operation you want to improve, there is software that can help you do it. From Website Design, Customer and Relationship Management, Project Management and Payroll to Data-Sharing, Training, Messaging, Scheduling, Marketing and Accountancy software– whatever you need. Using the right software in your business will make everything quicker, smoother and more centralized, while improving your communication processes, making your team better-informed and more efficient.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer the stuff of science-fiction. It has made huge strides over the past few years, and any time a computer system performs a task that would have needed human intelligence in the past, for example decision making, problem-solving, learning, planning or speech recognition, that’s AI in action. And if your business uses any computer-based tech, you might well be using it without knowing it. And if you’ve got Alexa or Netflix at home, you’re using it there! AI will revolutionise business processes, and we’re currently seeing heavy adoption by companies with a customer sales and service requirement with website “chatbots”. Chatbots use a machine learning algorithm to handle and answer customer queries without the requirement of a human presence. Chatbots can save you time and money by automating lead generation and customer care, and they work for you 24 hours a day. There are many cheap online tools where chatbots can be created without a detailed knowledge of coding. This is but one example of how AI is going mainstream. AI is going to play an ever-larger role in businesses over the next few years; the quicker you begin to adopt it, the sooner your operation will reap the benefits.
You may have heard of blockchain as the tech behind the virtual currency, Bitcoin, which at time of writing was trading at record levels. For the uninitiated, blockchains are shared digital ledgers which offer completely accurate, reliable, traceable and secure transactions and interactions. Record keeping is transparent and immutable, and updated instantly. Blockchains can be used to everything from payments, cash transfers, contracts, supply chain management and so much more – many commentators see this as eventually having the same impact on our lives and businesses as the invention of the internet itself. Blockchain tech may have come into being as a system to facilitate cryptocurrency but you don’t need to have crypto to use blockchain. The underlying technology is complex as it involves countless servers across the globe, but the benefits of the system are clear for small business. If you use it, you’ll save time, money and what you do will be incredibly secure. Not only you will benefit, but your customers and clients will too. Governments and large companies are already adopting it, and it could well pay dividends for you as well.
Every organisation around the world is feeling the impact of technology in their business. New innovations are being made all the time and while some may have no effect on your operation, others certainly will. All small business owners should take time to learn about emerging tech, as you may find something that can make your life a hell of a lot easier while giving your sales and revenue a huge boost.