The world’s latest and greatest technologies aren’t just for large international corporations. Smart small business owners keep an eye out for significant breakthroughs in technology, and implement what their businesses need to catapult their path to success. However, as cognizant as they may be, many small business owners are slow to adopt new technologies. According to an AT&T survey, 75% of small business owners want to embrace new technology, but 30% find it difficult to implement.
What separates these companies from those who are able to employ it correctly is the ability to identify areas in a business that need improvement, and what technologies can be implemented to address them. Here are four technologies that every small business owner should consider.
1) Data security
Without a repertoire of thousands of customers, it can be easy for small business owners to forego practical measures to protect their customers’ data. However, this doesn’t mean cyber-criminals pose any less of a threat. In fact, almost two-thirds of all cyberattacks target small businesses, and more than half of the victims go out of business within six months of the attack. This accentuates the need for small businesses to implement comprehensive security systems not just to protect their customers, but to secure the longevity of their business.
2) Artificial Intelligence
Since its introduction in the business world in the late 1950s, artificial intelligence (AI) has made major strides in becoming one of the most important technological advancements small business owners can integrate into their processes. At its core, AI empowers systems to make human-like decisions based on consistent streams of data. As the technology has continued to improve, the extent of decisions AI is able to make without the need for human intervention has grown significantly.
Giuseppe Licari, founder of shopping app GreenJinn, gives high praise to AI, stating that it’s “set to be one of the biggest races of our time as companies and governments invest heavily to gain a competitive edge in one of the most exciting and unprecedented moments in the history of technological development.” AI can help small business owners by increasing the scale at which the company is able to operate, as well as the efficiency and accuracy of typical business functions.
Even small businesses can benefit from automation. Certain automated technologies, like robotic process automation (RPA), make use of “bots” to automate tasks, processes, or parts of a job role that are typically mundane and time-consuming. This frees employees from tedious duties that require a significant amount of their time.
Instead, they can spend this time leveraging their unique thoughts and insights to larger, more fulfilling projects. Facilitated by this new digital workforce, employees can rest assured knowing that RPA bots can perform the remaining duties with few to no errors.
4) Customer Relationship Management Software
Businesses love data, but in order for data to be useful, it needs to be organized in a way that makes sense. As a business’ customer base grows, it can be extremely beneficial to have a clean-cut overview of all client data to help run sales processes more efficiently. This is where customer relationship management (CRM) software comes into play.
Small business owners can look to CRM software to provide a comprehensive visualization of sales performance metrics through customer relationship profiles. This helps a company differentiate between prospects at every stage of the sales process so that employees know what actions to take to complete the sales cycle.
5) Cloud computing
Cloud computing is one of the best things a small business can deploy. It can give an entire company access to data and applications from anywhere at any time. Unsurprisingly, most modern CRM software are cloud-based. But the cloud isn’t limited to tracking customer data alone. Many affordable cloud services come equipped with multi-application functionality that include business essentials like email, calendars, conference calling, document sharing, presentations, and online file storage.
Since these applications are shared throughout the company, employees can grant each other access to any document without needing to install or update any software. The cloud also eliminates the need to store data on system hardware, freeing up a business’ computer equipment for other purposes and ensuring no data is lost due to lost or faulty hardware.
6) Paid advertising
There are over 4.47 billion people across the globe that are active internet users. To put that into perspective, there are currently 7.7 billion people on the planet—that means 58% of the global population is online. With so many potential customers, it’s now more important than ever that small business owners get their voices out there.
To help make their messages stand out from competitors, smart small business owners are taking to paid advertising to boost sales. By aligning marketing strategies with the right audience, keywords, and display ads, it’s possible to tap into pools of prospective customers that were previously unheard of. To maximize online sales potential, small business owners should connect with digital marketing agencies who know the ins and outs of advertising on search platforms, like Google, as well as how to leverage popular and emerging social media channels where customers may be.
7) Search Engine Optimization
While paid advertising will help small businesses improve their visibility on search platforms, it’s important to realize that this visibility only lasts as long as the ads are paid to run. Continuing to fund paid advertising campaigns as a means of maintaining a consistent presence online can be costly, especially for small businesses with limited resources for marketing efforts. Small business owners should therefore look to search engine optimization (SEO) as one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing that will help their companies achieve more online visibility without having to continuously fund marketing efforts.
SEO allows a company to be more visible by improving rankings on search platforms for specific keywords that customers may be searching when looking to make a purchase. For example, if an electronics vendor’s website is optimized for keywords relating to electronics, it is more likely that customers will see, visit, and purchase from their store when looking to purchase relative products. Local businesses may also benefit from geographical search queries, like “electronics stores near me”, making it even more important for small businesses to partner with a digital marketing agency to help integrate SEO as one of their core marketing strategies.