5 Technology Trends for Small Business Growth
Small business growth is much easier to accomplish when you put the latest technology trends to work for you – learn more.
Achieving small business growth effectively is all about working smarter not harder.
Technology has always been seen as the harbinger of innovation and change, and that’s no different for small businesses. While larger companies may have difficulty reacting quickly and making adjustments, small businesses can more easily implement some of these new technologies that can be greatly beneficial to small business growth.
From removing repetitive tasks to helping employees collaborate, here are the top five technology trends that small businesses should put to work for growth.
1. The cloud
The cloud is often one of those “buzzwords” that people throw around without really understanding it’s benefits or importance. In terms of small business growth, the cloud is a great resource for ensuring that your business has the capability to be flexible and agile, and under the current circumstances these abilities are more important than ever.
COVID-19 has caused some major disruptions for companies of all varieties, and many have either started investing in cloud technology, or increasing their spending on it; spending on cloud services is up 30% compared to the same period last year
One of the main benefits that cloud computing offers is the ability for workers to access data from anywhere they have an internet connection. An additional advantage that can often be overlooked is the financial savings possible due to not having to purchase and maintain data centers. Working remotely and from various locations can ensure that your team never misses a beat, and always has the ability to access the information that they need, when they need it. Not having to invest in large data centers means you can invest that money in other aspects of your business, and keeps you from having to maintain the systems.
Automation is often thought of as an enterprise-level tool, but it can be used for businesses of any size to very effective degrees. Automation is typically perceived as a large-scale operation that costs a great deal of money and removes traditional employees from jobs—this is rarely accurate. You can automate more detail-oriented aspects of your business, such as human resources, with tools like CakeHR, or smaller items, such as your calendar with something like Calendly.
Removing even some of the smallest and most repetitive tasks of the day can have a large impact on performance and productivity, which itself can have compounding effects. Automation has a lot of benefits for small business growth that stem from removing the repetitive tasks from your daily routine
- Less room for human error
- More efficient use of your workforce
- Increase employee satisfaction
- Consistent quality
Automating tasks, no matter how big or small, allows business owners and employees to devote more time to the goals that really matter to them, and tasks that require hands-on oversight. For smaller businesses, this can mean spending more time with customers and ensuring a high quality of service and putting more time into growing your business.
Due to the forced transition to remote work, cybersecurity has become an important topic of conversation for all businesses, but this also extends far beyond remote work. According to Interpol, cybersecurity attacks have been greatly increasing, and “The increased online dependency for people around the world, is also creating new opportunities, with many businesses and individuals not ensuring their cyber defences are up to date.” Making sure your business is protected from all kinds of cyber threats is crucial for now and the future. There are numerous options available, and many organizations have been turning to forms of Identity and Access Management technologies to better protect their assets.
There are several common ways that security is frequently breached such as Malware, Phishing attempts, and weak passwords
- Malware is a general term for harmful software designed to cause harm to your system, or to gain unauthorized access to information of some kind.
- Phishing attempts are typically emails from nefarious third parties attempt to trick you into sending them sensitive information.
- Weak passwords were responsible for 30% of ransomware infections in 2019, and are an extremely common vulnerability for businesses.
4. Artificial Intelligence
Although science fiction movies might have oversold the current capabilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI), it can still be incredibly useful in many facets of a business. Automation and AI may share similar qualities, but they are in fact very different from each other. AI can learn from the environment around it, and change and adapt to better solve problems.
A very common and increasingly popular example of AI for small business growth is the addition of chatbots. A chatbot is an AI software that can simulate conversations with a user through various messaging applications. Although chatbots do tend to appeal to younger generations the most, with 40% of millennials saying they interact with chatbots daily, they can be useful to a large number of people. The more complex the request, the harder time a chatbot may have completing it, which means a real person will have to assist. For many businesses, this can actually be a good thing; it means people who would prefer to deal with a traditional employee have that option, and keeps the human interaction portion of businesses still intact, which is a major selling point for some organizations.
Artificial Intelligence is also a great way to process and digest large amounts of data, which can help you get more out of that information. AI can go through the data and help identify patterns or areas of competitive advantages, and better prepare businesses moving forward. Through this improved look at a company’s data, AI can help identify customers’ patterns and habits, previous purchases, and what they might need moving forward, to better serve the customer.
5. Collaboration tools
As previously mentioned, having tools that better aid businesses in remote work is key to obtaining the full potential of a workforce. Without consistent communication, many things fall between the cracks and can cause unforeseen problems for your organization. Poor communication can be very costly, and on average can cost smaller businesses up to $420,000 per year.
Communication tools such as Slack and Zoom are important for ensuring that communication in many forms can take place, and that all teams are providing the information needed. Although some information can be conveyed over a messaging system such as Slack, more complex communication may require a “face-to-face” conversation. This can also help emulate a more traditional office environment, which can be beneficial to helping employees feel more at home and connected with their coworkers.
Technology is constantly evolving, and with each iteration of change, more key elements and opportunities emerge. Using the power of the cloud ensures employees have access to information regardless of their location. Automating tasks, no matter the size, can help increase efficiency, and invest more time into the things that really matter. Cybersecurity helps protect important business information and keep employees safe. Artificial intelligence is a great way to better interact with customers and help understand more from your data. Collaboration tools are critical to making sure your workplace is running smoothly and help prevent unnecessary financial loss.