Small businesses come in all sizes and shapes. Some take the form of mom-and-pop convenience stores while others nationwide present family business. Some are made up of two founders who work out of a garage while some others have hundreds of employees working in an organized setup.
But, there is one thing which unites all sizes and types of small businesses. They embrace technology with open arms. They understand that technology is a driver of growth and its usage is inevitable to scale their business rapidly.
What are the technologies that every small business must adopt to run at a pace that they desire? This post answers that question. Here are a handful of such technologies to get you started with.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) System
According to Salesforce SMB Research Infographic, growing SMBs are two times more likely to use a CRM compared to SMB laggards. The infographic also reports that at least one of out of every 3 SMB uses a CRM to better manage their customer data.
The benefits that a CRM system can bring to a growing SB are numerous:
- Access to connected data
- Better understanding of customers
- Sales pipeline monitoring
- Automation of routine tasks
- Single repository of all customer information
- Analytics and data reporting for business efficiency
Undoubtedly, a CRM software is a must adopt technology for small businesses that want to know their customers better and also sell better.
66% of cyberattacks are aimed at small business ~ Verizon 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report. There are two things which makes small businesses a juicy target for hackers. One, they are growing at an aggressive rate. They do have considerable amounts of data like customers’ credit cards, personal information and credentials that is worth stealing. Second, small businesses do not give cyber security as much importance that a large scale enterprise would be giving.
They assume that they are too small for hackers. The expensive price tags of security measures also discourages them from ramping up their cyber security defenses. But, there are penny-wise cyber security measures like RapidSSL certificate which helps to secure a small business’ online transactions. SSL certificates encrypt the data that is coming and going out of the business website, thus keeping the raw data safe from being stolen or hacked.
Statista estimates that by 2022 global spending on Public cloud IT software (SaaS) and platform services (PaaS) will touch $216 Billion. Cloud has become the default choice for every IT endeavour. From deploying applications to hosting data centers, there is infinite opportunity in the cloud.
Cloud helps small businesses achieve massive cost savings required for IT infrastructure. In fact, it is cloud which enables small businesses to rapidly scale their services without being bogged down by upfront costs and rigid infrastructure.
Small businesses that want IT agility, flexibility and scalability must move their operations to the cloud. SaaS (Software as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service), IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) are the popular options that can be used to scale a small business.
Mobility is culmination of people, technology and processes. It is not a standalone technology as such. Small businesses need enterprise mobility to cater to the growing demands of two sets of users – one, the business users themselves and two, the customers.
Enterprise mobility helps employees to use a wide variety of devices and applications to work from anywhere they are at any time they wish. For customers, it offers an omni-channel user experience which is not restricted to any fixed channel. A classic example is a mobile app. Employees can use a mobile app to raise tickets for their office administration purposes. Customers, on the other hand, can use a mobile application to track their orders, make payments, get product updates and much more.
Enterprise mobility broadens the scope of usage for several stakeholders thus making it easy for small businesses to scale their customer base rapidly.
Machine learning, which is a subset of Artificial Intelligence is wrongly assumed to be the forte for only large business houses. The truth is, there are several machine learning applications that small businesses can leverage to deliver better customer service, make data-driven decisions and also automate routine tasks. The end results are obvious – easier customer acquisition and retention, cost-efficient decision making, proactive customer service.
Some business operations where SMBs can deploy machine learning include conversational interfaces (chatbots) for customer service across social channels, data visualization, data modeling for customer profiling, setting rule-based billing, understanding customer intent and so on.
Mixed reality is the umbrella term used for real-time experiences that are created using a merger of physical environments and virtual objects. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are the two most popular mixed reality technologies.
- Virtual reality places users in virtual environments where 3D objects respond to the user’s physical gestures.
- Augmented reality on the other hand, places digital objects over physical objects when they are viewed through a screen.
Both these mixed reality technologies can be used by small businesses for a wide-variety of purposes like giving customer demos, showing artificial replicas of personalized products, virtual tours of products and so on.
The days ahead for SMBs
SMBs need to embrace new-age technologies with a feverish passion to step up their offerings. From revamping their services to offering superior customer service, there is so much that technology can empower a small business with.