When starting a business in this age, there is no way of avoiding using different types of technology in the business. Whether that is hardware or software, technology can help you with many of the tasks required to run a small business smoothly. Having and taking advantage of the right technologies can set up your business for future success. In this article, we will look at the technologies every small business needs.
Remote Workforce Software (Project Management Solutions)
For a long time, remote work was seen as a niche option, with only a small business capable of taking full advantage of it. This has changed in recent years, and a primary reason for this is the release and maturity of collaborative and productivity software.
These solutions allow businesses to hire from a global pool of talent regardless of their size. They also allow communication, collaboration, project management, and much more regardless of where the business owner and their employees are located.
Even though most of these solutions have been available for a long time - Basecamp has been available since 2004 - they became more mature and refined during the pandemic as more businesses sought to use them.
Because of the accelerated popularity and acceptance of remote work, we are likely to see more businesses switch to remote or hybrid models, which will, in turn, lead to a refinement of available solutions and the introduction of new ones.
Video Marketing Solutions
Capable Computing Technology
Much of the work done in a small business is done on a computer. This can be anything from managing online orders and shipments to managing employee data and handling payroll. Because of this, one of the first pieces of technology you need in a small business is a computer.
Here, you have two options: buying a desktop or choosing a laptop. Laptops are a great option for business owners who move around a lot and who might want to take their computers home for some reason. It is also a great option for owners who are in the field a lot or who need a powerful workstation wherever they are.
If you decide to go this route, there are lots of business laptops for busy entrepreneurs and business owners. Most of these tablets are rugged, reliable, and durable so you can carry them around every day without too much worry.
Desktops are a great option because they are typically more powerful than laptops. They also allow easier upgrades in the future whereas you would have to replace a laptop to do that. Desktops also give you more options if you would like to use more than one display.
Laptops typically allow one external display depending on the ports you have, but desktops can handle a lot more. If you are just starting and do not need an elaborate setup, you can always opt for one desktop and a single monitor. Companies like Lenovo have desktops purpose-built for the office, so you can check out the desktops from Lenovo for small offices to see the options they have.
Business Phone Lines and VoIP
Although a lot of business communication has switched to email and online messaging services, phone lines remain a crucial asset for many businesses. They enable a type of personal communication that is not possible via email or online messaging, and this is what makes them appealing to many businesses.
Business phones allow businesses to get correspondence immediately and to deal with any issues that come up promptly. This creates a good impression and presents a more professional image to your clients and employees.
While physical business lines still exist, many businesses have moved their telephone services and so should you. These services are possible through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technologies that allow sending and receiving voice, video, and data communication through the internet. This includes audio and video calls as well as SMS messaging.
VoIP, provided by reliable VoIP providers, is much cheaper and more reliable than other telephony services and allows features such as conference calls, call forwarding to single or multiple recipients, text messaging, call recording, holding, and so much more.
Technology has allowed businesses to move much of what they do online. This is done through cloud computing technologies. Cloud computing is the delivery and provision of computing services over the internet.
Cloud computing uses servers (the cloud) that are provided by businesses that seek to provide businesses with an infrastructure they can use for their IT needs. These include networking, analytics, intelligence, storage, software deployment, web hosting, file sharing, and so much more.
While you can pick a few of these services and put them together on their own, letting a managed IT services company handle everything for you is often the better option. This is because, in addition to setting up and maintaining your cloud infrastructure, they also provide cybersecurity services and allow quick scaling when and as you need it.
Cloud computing allows easier storage and access of data as well as better collaboration and leads to cheaper IT costs than running the infrastructure in-house.
Big Data and Analytics
Big data and analytics can be standalone services or be tied to your cloud computing service. Big data strictly refers to collecting data that is too complex to analyze using traditional analysis methods. Many people now use it to refer to both the collection of this data as well as the data itself.
Any business that wants to survive in the modern age has to collect data. This can be data on its employees, partners, vendors, clients, and customers. A business can then use this data to improve productivity and output, streamline business processes, reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, leverage opportunity for growth, improve marketing outcomes, and so much more.
Before it can use the data collected, however, a business has to clean, sift through, categorize, and turn it into digestible data sets. The data analysis then comes in to examine these data sets to find trends, glean information and find trends that can inform data-driven decision-making.
Businesses can use several technologies for data analysis including traditional techniques and modern technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. These technologies allow businesses to work with massive amounts of data, which opens up opportunities for the collection of even more data and ends up benefiting the business even more.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System
A CRM system lets businesses collect client information and organize, analyze, and store it. By doing so, it makes it easier for businesses to create and maintain relationships with their clients and customers, and to find and onboard new customers.
Many businesses utilize cloud-based CRM solutions such as HubSpot and Salesforce for this as they make CRM easier and scale with the business as it grows.
A CRM can also be an incredibly useful tool in marketing, especially when it comes to segmentation. Because all customer and client information are stored in a simple-to-understand format, businesses can place their customers in segments. They can then craft targeted marketing material for each segment, being sure of a good return on investment due to the highly-targeted nature of such marketing campaigns.
As a small business, you should start using a CRM tool as soon as you start collecting client and customer information. You will find the analysis and organization huge help in the future when you ramp up your marketing efforts.
Many people do not think about the underlying technology behind digital payments, but a lot is happening behind the scenes. There are the two banks or financial institutions talking to each other, the digital payment platform working as the middleman, the customers or clients who initiate the transfer, and the business that receives it.
Digital payments have been a big help for businesses because they are convenient, faster than traditional payment options, cheaper in most cases, and much safer. Accompanying accounting software that monitors and records all digital payments can be integrated to help businesses better deal with these payments.
This helps with things like producing quick results as well as analysis, sales, revenues, costs, and profits.
Inventory Analysis and Management Tools
Any business that sells physical products must keep a close eye on its inventory. If the business does not have good inventory management and control, it risks running out of stock at an inopportune time due to low inventory levels. On the other hand, a business risks high warehousing and storage costs if it does not sell all its stock at the right time.
Inventory analysis and management tools stop both from happening. Using tools like AI and machine learning to predict supply and demand, these tools can ensure a business holds the right amount of stock at a specific time.
These tools are also sophisticated enough to make orders on behalf of a business if the stock starts running low.
Every business should try to take advantage of as many technology solutions as it can. Doing so benefits the business and also helps it stay at par with its competitors who are also using the same solutions to gain or maintain a competitive edge.