Technology continues to change the face of business, and those companies who take advantage of the right innovations for their industry often enjoy a significant competitive edge. From better managing your teams and cashflow, to ultimately better serving your customers – we examine some of the must-have technologies that can help your business thrive.
Take control of your cashflow
Ask any business owner about their biggest challenges, and cashflow is virtually bound to feature on the list. Thankfully, there are several technologies available to assist. ‘Cloud accounting’ software applications like Sage One and Xero have inbuilt credit control features which will send automated emails to your customers when their invoice is about to become due, as well as follow-ups should it become overdue. Asking your clients to pay via direct debit through a system like GoCardless can also be more convenient for both you and your customers.
Boost employee engagement through collaborative and remote working
Did you know that 80% of workers who telecommute report higher morale, and that 69% miss fewer days of work? Those are impressive numbers indeed – and can make a huge difference to any business’ bottom line. Free cloud file sharing platforms like Google Drive and Dropbox, and team and project management platforms like Trello, Asana, Jira, and Basecamp make it easier than ever before to take advantage of the remote work revolution. And while there is always an adjustment period and learning curve where changes to the way we work are involved, companies willing to adapt are soon rewarded with increased productivity, and all the other benefits that come with more engaged, happier employees.
Make sure you stay connected if the internet goes down
As more and more businesses, large and small alike, come to rely on technologies like cloud computing, file sharing, social media and instant messaging, losing your internet connection – even for just a few hours – can start to become a major problem. If it affects and frustrates your customers, it can also be bad for your brand reputation. Investing in a backup plan in the form of a redundant internet connection or failover with a different carrier than your primary one is a must-have if your business depends on being online.
Data backup and disaster recovery
With so many big data breaches making the headlines these days, business owners are becoming increasingly aware of the need to secure their data – and that’s great. Unfortunately, this sometimes means overlooking more mundane yet more likely threats – like accidents or simple human error. Hardware failure is another common issue – so having a partner that can assist with hard drive recovery services, as well as protecting yourself against ransomware attacks and hackers is the best way to cover all your bases.
Offer a variety of payment methods
Considering that 50% of online shoppers will abandon their purchase if their preferred payment method is not available, it makes sense to offer multiple options – and this applies to offline businesses too. Technologies such as a virtual point of sale system that allows you to connect a card reader to a PC, and products like Intuit – which integrates with QuickBooks and allows your customers to pay their invoices via credit card -and access their own personalized account webpage where they can view their billing history- are just a few options.
Business intelligence and analytics
Small businesses frequently need to think on their feet, making decisions quickly in order to take advantage of a new opportunity – but they no longer need to make these decisions without data to back them up. Business Intelligence (BI) software designed specifically for SMEs, with features like simple dashboards and easy-to-monitor KPIs can give businesses an edge without all the complicated features which come with an enterprise solution. Visual analytics and real-time data can be incredibly useful for small businesses, and there are now several good options to choose from which will allow you to spot trends and predict customer behavior ahead of time.
Social media management
While most businesses now embrace the need to have a presence on social media, for many it’s still a chore which takes time away from their core business functions – especially when they have several accounts across different platforms. Bringing all those accounts together in one place with a free social media management tool like Hootsuite, Buffer or SocialOomph can make it a lot easier. You’ll be able to post updates across platforms all at once, schedule updates to go out later, and check all your mentions from one page.