Technology continues transforming the way small-to-medium business operates. Whether it's a local pizza shop with a single cash register or an online supplier of vitamins and supplements with e-commerce tools like shopping carts and order tracking, there are products and software that can make workflow faster and smarter.
CRM systems allow SMB owners to track customer activity and plan interactions with minimal effort. Contact information, purchasing and payment history, feedback, and marketing efforts can all be easily recorded, accessed, and reviewed. This allows businesses to offer better customer service and more effective promotions based on customer preferences.
With many customers and contacts to maintain, the ability to make quick references to detailed customer data helps to build and maintain long-term relationships through simple customer satisfaction.
One of the headaches of doing business is monitoring cash flow and profit margins, not to mention insurance, taxes, and more. Accounting software can make that much easier. Many of the newer financial programs are comprehensive systems that can automate billing, balance ledgers, set fee schedules, and integrate with payment processing software. They can also generate reports on financial activity and forecasts, from an overall picture down to a specific date range or client.
Whether you want a whole new cloud-based system or just integration with standard applications, there are options available.
BI platforms use various data modelling techniques to identify and forecast trends that provide a crucial perspective on operations and company health. BI and big data can help SMBs by automatically organizing data into useful data points and metrics that reveal facts within historical sales or production data, marketing or salary expenses, customer demographics, and much more.
Whether it's a trend toward younger customers or falling production of a single product, BI analytics can quickly red-flag issues you need to know about.
Mobile devices allow customers to reach your online portals at any time, while mobile staff such as sales people can keep in touch and even file invoices and reports from the field. Thanks to Wi-Fi and cloud services, remote staff can interact with the office via smartphones and other devices. Networking solutions allow remote access of company file and email servers, applications, and office resources like printers from a variety of devices.
Mobile access means that employees can function from almost anywhere and be more responsive to customers. Workflow continues even when people are away from the office; more employees working from home on a permanent or temporary basis frees up office space and lowers utility costs.
Marketing was once a huge overhead, given the cost of television commercials and even print ads in major publications. Today companies compete evenly for much cheaper online marketing that still reaches millions of people. Online venues such as blogs and social media open up new opportunities for customer interaction. Automated marketing tools let companies design, monitor, and gauge the effectiveness of pay-per-click, text links, Tweets, emails, and other forms of advertising campaigns.
More interaction with customers and more timely feedback allow businesses to align products and advertising to their specific target market, which makes lead nurturing and company branding that much easier.
If you're looking at investment strategies to grow your business, new and expanding technologies should be at the top of the list. Data collection and networking technologies let businesses learn more about their customers, plan better, market more effectively, and streamline business processes through automation. Future releases of technology will only follow the trend of more features and more integration. Every excuse for delaying upgrades to hardware and software, or contracted IT services, is actually costing your business money.