A recent 2015 study performed on SMB marketers in the U.S. found that 29 percent of all small businesses polled said that tech has a major impact on how their business runs.
The real trouble for businesses isn’t so much about embracing technology advancements, but rather choosing which trends they need to capitalize on and which can potentially wait until at least later in the year for reexamination.
There isn’t an official blueprint as yet, but some truths are becoming universal as time goes on. Mobile awareness and optimization, along with other essential tech aren’t just fads, you need to get on board in order to compete and get ahead.
Here are 6 tech items you need to implement (yesterday) into your SMB practices in order to get ahead in 2017 and beyond:
1. Mobile friendly website
At some point, you’ll see bloggers stop recommending everyone make sure their site is “mobile friendly.” Unfortunately, we haven’t yet reached that point. Truth is, I could come up with many examples of professional websites I’ve linked to just in the last few months that weren’t remotely optimized to handle the screen on my tablet or smartphone.
Use Bing’s Mobile Friendliness Test Tool, then run Google’s Test, and do whatever they tell you be necessary to future-proof your site. If you’re not using these tools, and can’t be bothered to choose mobile friendly themes when building out new sites, there isn’t much hope for you this year, or those that follow.
2. Reliable Internet access
Sure, you have technology at your fingertips; with smartphones and any other mobile devices, you can work anytime, anywhere. However, there are things that need to be done on-site (e.g. your office) and in doing so, you need a reliable Internet access on office, such as broadband Internet.
You can kickstart your search by looking at business broadband deals comparison and review sites, and be sure to opt for service quality over price tag. Remember, you might need a bit more per month for a superior service, but you should see it as an ‘insurance’ that protects you from losing thousands-worth of productivity loss – even more – due to an unreliable service.
3. Consumer relationship management software
One of the most critical components of any business in 2017 will be in upping the size and scope of their CRM software toolkit. Tools like automated chatbots that can be programmed to interact with customers and website users with little human intervention will come to be the standard, rather than the exception this year.
There are several multi-functional CRM software options capable of delivering full-on solutions. If you deal with a lot of online and/or offline customers across different media platforms, there’s no smart reason to manage all that grunt work in house.
4. Ability to accept mobile payments
When customers are willing to pay their bill, you and your staff need to be ready to accept that payment. Whether a cloud or mobile device-based option, there are several players to choose from in this space.
Square and Apple Pay are the obvious front-runners, but there are countless options to choose from that offer different fee structures to suit the needs of small to medium sized businesses.
5. Infrastructure to manage remote staff (ie., cloud collaboration)
We’re heading into a world where over 60 percent of office workers of all disciplines will be getting their groove on remotely by as early as 2022. There’s never been a better time to take your collaboration with employees to the cloud, from free options like Google Hangouts to more option-heavy options like Slack and Zoho.
6. A firm cybersecurity gameplan
When it comes to cybersecurity, the vast majority of SMBs consider this factor to be among the top 3 difficult challenges facing their business in 2017. Everything including your data and your customers’ needs to be protected with the utmost concern.
PCs, mobile devices, removable media, cloud software solutions, payment processing gateways, and any other devices that contain data must be backed up and protected against data leakage threats of all kinds including employee theft and malware.
7. Understanding of the term “Business Intelligence”
Business intelligence is nothing more than an umbrella term that describes all the software mentioned on this page combined into one neat and compact package. Yet the best of the best out there can do so much more. The best business intelligence tools offer real time reporting, data cleansing, and sharing at you and your employee’s fingertips.
Hardy business intelligence software can literally do anything you want it to, and is designed to allow so many popular and needed programs out there like payment processors, accounting programs, collaboration software, Microsoft Office, and many other to work together to gather, collate, and protect the data your company takes in and shares.
Discuss and share
Do you see any essential SMB tech missing from the list? Please share in the comments.
Let’s get a discussion going!