By Rick Delgado
Today, small businesses are transforming the way they operate. Software and technology is no longer just used by larger companies, especially since many marketing platforms can come without a price (i.e. Facebook pages). Now more than ever, the smartphone (and other smart devices) is barely ever far from one’s side and it is near professional suicide for a business to not use this new tech or software to conduct their business. Among the technology that has transformed the way small businesses operate is digital marketing, websites, project management software, the IoT and the Cloud.
It may come as a shock that of the 27.9 million small businesses in the U.S., nearly 7 million don’t have their own website. In today’s tech savvy world, this can be almost suicide for a business, especially since 67 percent of consumers begin their search for local businesses online through search engines such as Bing or Google. Businesses, especially small and local, can miss out on major revenue by neglecting their web presence. Andy Walker of Cyberwalker Digital characterizes the failure of having “a mobile friendly website in the same way as a failure to upgrade from a horse and cart to a car in the era of Henry Ford. You’ll survive for a short while but eventually you’ll be out of a business as all of your competitors large and small run you down.”
After a website, digital marketing and the use of social media is a near no-brainer. Email alone is used over six hours a day by many individuals, whereas social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can reach nine hours a day, especially for teens. Since nearly a third of a person’s day is spent on sites such as these, digital advertising has immensely increased over the last few years. Marketing and advertising is found anywhere from blogs to social media to search engines. About 70 percent of business owners who have advertised on Facebook have seen a threefold increase on their return over the amount they spent on their ad alone.
Project Management Software
More recently, industries have begun to see a vast increase in the use of project management software for all types of businesses. This kind of software helps business owners manage budgets, communication, documentation, collaboration, quality control and so much more. Things like Trello, Basecamp, Asana, Podium, SmartSheet, and Microsoft Project have made it easier for business owners to assign and schedule tasks for employees and also keeps them in the know of all aspects of a project from budgeting to timeline. This new software makes it easier for teams to stay on track and collaborate from all corners of the world.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the lump term of any gadget that relies on WiFi to operate and send data to users. With smart homes, smartphones, and smart cars, the IoT is keeping all of our devices connected and interacting with each other. Today, business owners have the option of using their smartphones to control thermostats, locks, security systems and so much more. With IoT, business owners can access their people counter software from anywhere around the world to know how many people are coming into the store or office, which will in turn greatly affect any type of business strategy. The IoT is also changing the exact products that businesses are turning out. According to Raj Talluri, Qualcomm’s senior vice president of product management, “consumers are already demanding that their various devices connect and sync seamlessly.”
Another thing that has dramatically changed over the years is a small business’ approach to IT and its servers. Desktops, monitors, printers, servers, and more are a big investment for companies. But often the cost of buying and maintaining all of this hardware can put a dent in a budget. Fortunately, and unfortunately, this equipment is continually being upgraded but again, this can become an expensive area for some small businesses. It could be worth it to look at what functions such as analyzing the customer database, mobility, storage or others could be switched over to the cloud. Many businesses now rely more heavily on the cloud rather than retaining many of those functions in-house.
Rick Delgado is a technology commentator and writer. Follow him @ricknotdelgado.