Technology is providing opportunities for small businesses that were previously unthinkable: the power of the internet and the potential to reach audiences globally has revolutionised our game plan. We no longer need physical premises, we need less investment, have global reach and can manage our working schedules as required. According to Forbes, “more companies are making the connection between strong IT investment and improved business performance”.
Let’s take a look at some of the stats around business and IT:
The SMB Group recently published their 2016 report looking at the link between technology and increased revenue for small and medium sized businesses. Here are their top 10 IT fixes that will help your business grow:
- Technology is critical to business success
The study showed that 29% of SMBs (small medium businesses) see technology as the future of business success. They spend 29% more on technology and 55% of them have “fully integrated primary business applications” and 86% use data analytics. They use technology to become more efficient, create new business models and have a better understanding of what their customers actually want.
- Self-employed business owners can maximise small budgets
Software, especially Excel, is a favourite for carrying out the business’s accounting: spreadsheets. Outlook and Google are used to manage sales and contacts.
The numbers: “On average, median annual spending on technology for businesses with one employee is approximately $3,500, which includes client devices, productivity software, business software, Internet connectivity and mobile data service and device expenses.”
There are several companies now offering IT solutions for self-employed individuals.
- The IoT will empower businesses
The Internet of Things is on the rise, yet it still has to impress SMBs. The IoT has the potential to improve internal operational efficiency and to develop new products and services. The amount of data sent from devices to the cloud can really provide huge business insight.
- The cloud creates flexibility with ease
Cloud solutions are already being used by many SMBs. The sheer flexibility and simplicity to share, distribute, communicate and be location independent is a dream come true. Gone are the days of having to host in-house data centres with their maintenance and restrictions. With the cloud, businesses can grow and expand at any rate.
- Security is on the up
As technology becomes more interlaced with business, the issue of security raises its questioning head. More and more data is collected and stored, but is this data safe, and who can access it? New easy-to-apply security implementations are the future of this industry.
- Mobile is the future
We live our lives on the go and our mobility is reflected in SMBs’ strategies. in 2014, 59% of SMBs viewed mobile solutions and services as imperative to their business. To function in the mobile environment, businesses need apps instead of websites, or at least mobile versions of their desktop websites. More employees are working on the go as well, so being able to access documents and software on tablets and smartphones is crucial. Time is wasted if we can’t access these basics on the move.
- CRM tools are more widely available
Customer Relation Management tools have always been expensive and often complex to use for SMBs. Yet keeping track of your customers and their information is of the essence. Companies have caught onto the trend and are creating CRMs specifically designed for SMBs, incorporating social and data analytics.
- Data analysis will provide deeper insights
Turning raw data into meaningful insights is a powerful business solution for SMBs. The interface is visual and easy to navigate. Examples are Watson Analytics and Vizable, which are both cloud services.
- Business growth plans can be automated and monitored with ease
It is vital for a business to focus on finding new customers and generating growth. What can be a time-consuming manual operations task can now be automated and cloud based. Having such a system will allow the focus to be shifted on growing the business.
- Big data will make your business smarter
Big data is opening the door for tech companies to find out what SMBs actually need and want. This is creating a whole new set of tools and products, designed for an actual need. Non-tech companies who are in need of financial services, cloud software and information-based business decisions will particularly benefit from this.