Technology is at the heart of business processes in the current commercial landscape. Businesses now require specialized software and hardware to handle and automate many operations from communication, collaboration, project management, and supply chain to HR.
SMBs may wonder how to leverage technology correctly because of their limited resources. Since procuring advanced tech like the big guys isn’t always possible, small and mid-sized businesses must be economical in what they employ.
Not to worry; here are six ways SMBs can leverage technology efficiently.
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1. Hop on the cloud
Why buy your own hardware storage and servers when you can leverage a public one? Cloud solutions offer business owners to save costs while scaling. They enable your entire organization to access your database from any mobile device or browser, from anywhere, at any time. No downtime because your data is stored on several servers across the globe, as opposed to when you have a single server in your organization.
In addition, cloud storage and encryption offer you tighter data security to prevent breaches. Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are incredible tools for this.
Finally, you enjoy greater speed and scalability to your digital operations since you’re on advanced servers.
2. Consider mobile tech
Over half of internet usage occurs through mobile devices. About 81% of users search online before heading to a store. Over 2.14 billion people (27.6% of the world population) shop online, with almost half doing it on mobile. What does that tell you? You must make your business mobile-friendly if you must increase sales!
The first step is to make your website adaptable to mobile screens. Next, consider developing a mobile app for your business.
A mobile app allows you to:
- Facilitate interaction with customers
- Customize the app to suit your unique business needs
- Collect valuable data about your target audience, such as demographics and online search.
3. Automate repetitive tasks
Many things steal your time as a small business owner, for instance, digital marketing. Scheduling social media posts and emails can be time-consuming, especially since you have to do this repeatedly, day in and day out. You or your social media specialist should be using that time to craft new ideas to engage your audience.
The rule of thumb is if you have any administrative task you have to do repeatedly, automate it.
Many software programs can automate your emails and social media posts, freeing up time for you. These tools have if/then triggers. For example, a program may send out persuasive follow-up emails to customers who checked out a product but didn’t buy it. This can help you boost sales.
4. Leverage managed IT services
Managed IT services involve outsourcing IT support services to a specialized third-party provider.
Such services include setting up and maintaining networks and infrastructure, cybersecurity, managing software, cloud configurations, etc. There are many benefits of a managed service provider. For example, they can help you save costs because you pay only for the services offered. This is as opposed to paying fixed monthly salaries and employee benefits to an in-house employee regardless of how much productive work they do in that month.
If you find that hiring in-house IT staff is expensive and your company requires more IT capabilities to meet its growing demands, a managed IT services provider is the best solution.
5. Use chatbots
Chatbots aren’t very expensive, but they can ideally take your customer relationships to whole new heights. Consider them as just another way to automate things, in this case, communication. You or your limited employees may not always be available to respond to prospects who text you on your social media handles.
With chatbots backed by AI and machine learning, you can offer swift and ideal responses to customer queries. This saves you time to focus on other core business processes. The AI can also help you learn specific information about your target audience.
6. Upgrade your security with tech
SMBs that leverage relevant technologies like digital marketing tools, the Internet of Things (IoT), and mobile technology are able to increase efficiency exponentially.
However, leveraging such digital strategies opens a window for cybercriminals to exploit unprotected systems. The best step is to install multiple digital layers of security for everything, from employee training down to firewalls.
Luckily, you don’t have to monitor these systems on your own round-the-clock. Your managed services provider can handle all of that, ensuring your in-house employees can focus their effort on business development.
The bottom line
Mobile apps, digital marketing tools, managed IT support, cloud solutions, and AI are excellent ways to leverage technology for SMBs. With these opportunities in your hands, the possibilities are limitless.