The business world is becoming increasingly integrated with tech. It’s not just for a select few anymore — but what about if you have a small business? It may be easier than you think to integrate technology into your small business, and it’s likely to be worth the investment.
Sure, the big name companies use technology for their businesses. A lot of them, like Google, Apple and IBM, even create their own. The business world is becoming increasingly integrated with tech. It’s not just for a select few anymore — but what about if you have a small business?
It may be easier than you think to integrate technology into your small business, and it’s likely to be worth the investment. Here are seven technologies and software programs to start incorporating into your business plan:
1. Cloud Storage
Managing, storing and backing up data can be a hassle for a small IT team, and it can take a lot of time and money. Many small businesses are skipping the infrastructure needed to store data on-site and are instead storing their files in the cloud — a remote network that can be connected to via the Internet.
Small businesses have several options when it comes to cloud storage, such as a private or public cloud storage location or a combination of the two. Cloud storage can be used to organize and store files and create backup files for added security.
Additionally, keeping information in the cloud allows employees to access it from multiple devices, and even from anywhere in the world as long as they have Internet access. Having everything in one place also makes it easier to find what you’re looking for.
Cloud services are also expanding to include software, server and other offerings.
2. Internet of Things
Although Internet of Things (IoT) is relatively new and can be expensive, small business can roll out smaller fleets of IoT devices that can be more manageable.
Any device that’s connected to the Internet and can communicate with other connected objects could be considered an IoT device. The technology can be used to gather data on any number of items.
For example, by attaching small sensors to its trucks
, a business can track the locations of all of its vehicles, as well as things like driving speeds. IoT can also be used to monitor energy use and temperature to increase efficiency.
3. IP and VOIP Cameras
Internet protocol cameras also known as IP cameras can help enhance security and customer interactions at a business.
IP cameras are often used for security because they record high-quality video and transmit data securely. Live video from IP cameras
can also be accessed remotely on a computer, smartphone or tablet.
The capability of two-way audio also allows a camera operator to speak with the subject of the video, which could be useful for assisting customers remotely.
With clients and coworkers more frequently being spread out across the globe, small businesses may also find that video over Internet protocol (VOIP) technology is helpful for staying connected. Videoconferencing and teleconferencing can be a more cost-effective way to hold a meeting with people who are dispersed across various locations.
4. CRM Software
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software helps businesses to keep track of all their customer information in one place. You can keep a record of when customers interacted with your company on social media or when they spoke with a salesperson. You can also access their purchase history with your company and monitor advertisements targeted to them.
CRMs help keep a business’ whole team on the same page because everyone can access the same information. They can even access it from the road if the CRM is cloud-based
Your business may opt for a full version of a program with a multitude of options, a simpler version or even a bare-bones, free system if you’re just starting out. Whichever way you go, CRMs can help you more effectively manage your interactions with customers and get a better picture of your business’ health.
5. Collaboration Software
Small businesses can take advantage of the many collaboration and project management software programs that are available to help boost their productivity.
Some, often free, programs allow you to keep project files all in one place, so everyone can edit them at once and access them at any time. This makes collaboration easier, even if everyone can’t be in the same room.
Other software is more complex and allows you to assign people to projects, hold group chat sessions and share important documents all in one place. This helps foster collaboration and keeps everyone on the same page.
6. Social Media Management Tools
There are a wide variety of social media sites businesses can use to connect with potential customers and business connections. Keeping tabs on all of those sites can be a complex task.
Social media management tools can help. With these software programs, businesses can schedule posts and plan a social media strategy. They can also review older posts to see what worked best and what they may want to change in the future.
These tools are also useful for monitoring interactions with customers to help ensure everything is answered in a timely and consistent manner.
7. Artificial Intelligence
Although artificial intelligence (AI) may sound futuristic, the technology is getting to a point where it could be useful for small businesses. AI can automatically perform tasks
that would otherwise be time-consuming and can recognize patterns in data that would take humans forever to find.
AI can be used to load customer data into a CRM, generate earnings reports and write job listings. AI apps can even act as a personal assistant by scheduling meetings and responding to emails.
Technology is becoming increasingly important for any business — not just for large tech companies. Operations of all sizes can take advantage of technology to boost their productivity, security, customer relations and other aspects of their business.