Why is technology the future for small businesses?
The business environment today is all about competition. For a company to be successful it has to beat its competitors. But how can small businesses come out on top? Consider the big named brands and companies; they rule the market and the small businesses are overshadowed. There is a solution though, not all is lost. As technology has advanced the business world has embraced it and has used it to their advantage, in doing so it has also levelled the playing field. Small businesses can use technology to stay competitive in the market. But what are the most efficient uses of technology and how can they benefit small businesses? Below are a few suggestions:
Embracing the Cloud
The cloud technology being introduced has benefited many companies and businesses. The first use of Cloud technologies like ‘Drop box’ is for companies to be able to store files and data online. This works like a utility: you only pay for what you need, upgrades are automatic and scaling up or down is easy. Using cloud technology can be very beneficial to a business, below are just a few:
- Lowers Expenses-
Businesses often lack time and financial resources to purchase, deploy and maintain an infrastructure (e.g. the software, server and storage); by using the cloud technology it cuts the cost and the time used for this as everything is stored and accesses online.
- Business Mobility-
The technology keeps the information and data online which lets you access files from anywhere via any computer or windows device. This allows you to create different folders for different projects or team members; collaborate with employees, contractors or partners and also allows you to share files or images that are too big to email.
Cloud technology allows you to globalize your workforce for a minimal cost; this is because your cloud can be accessed worldwide (providing they have an internet connection). It opens doors and creates opportunities for the company to create international connections and enter new trade markets.
Social Media Marketing
The use of social media marketing has become a requirement for ultimate success in businesses today, a survey of 600 small business owners indicated that 90% are actively engaged in social networking sites and 74% perceive social networking as valuable. But what is social media marketing?
It is a form of online networking and marketing that implements various social media networks, the best platforms to use are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. By doing this it achieves marketing communication, networking and branding strategies and goals. Social media with in the business world is about creating connectionsnd networking. Usually after a connection is made each party then develops relationships by socially sharing content, videos, and images which can market the product or business services or reach out and help connections by providing information or tips.
By using social media it can reduce the overall marketing cost. Having the ability to tweet a message or post on Facebook is drastically more cost effective than running a paid ad campaign on other media like newspapers, radio, TV, etc. By using these social media tool sit also provides direct connection, this allows for better customer service. If consumers need to ask a question you can answer them quickly and directly. Businesses can take advantage of the ability to communicate quickly and reach out to other companies, business owners and connect to possible business partners or new distributors. Social media lets you have real conversations with real people who might otherwise be socially or geographically inaccessible in the real world.
Mobile Phone Application Development
Smartphones have advanced drastically over the past few years and they have also dominated the mobile phone market. The total number of smartphones will reach 1.75 billion by the end of the current year (2014). A recent Nielsen report shows that smartphone users spend 89% of their time in mobile apps; with these figures businesses can’t ignore the marketing potential Apps can provide.
How does a business approach developing an app? There are many companies in the industry that provide app development services. Though the service is similar across the board the prices are what distinguish each company from each other. Through research I came across companies that were offering to develop apps for $15,000, for small businesses, this is a large investment for any small business. But as I kept looking I came across a company, Propel!Apps. The difference being their price was drastically lower; they were offering to develop an app for as little as $2,000. This Franchisor based company has many franchisees based all over Australia with goals to branch internationally, each offering affordable services in App development.
- Instant Marketing and Advertising
Using the app for marketing and advertising is beneficial as it engages your customers instantly. For example, when advertising promotions or specials, the app instantly notifies the consumer via push notifications on their mobile phone, creating instantaneous hype and recognition.
- Better Customer Service
A mobile app is an excellent channel for delivering support instantly and efficiently, it also is a great way to scale your customers support by introducing new channels of communication and delivery directly from the app.
- Collecting data on customer behaviour
If you want to learn how customers are using your products and services and what they like (and possibly don't like) about them, a mobile app can be a simple method for collecting this sort of information. Also a well-designed app can be beneficial in creating a census of your customers from information provided such as; location, jobs, ages, spending habits and limits, etc... This data and information is worth its weight in gold and is essential when tailoring your potential offers or promotions.
Technology is undyingly beneficial for small companies, it gives them opportunities to outreach and expand. Creating a level playing field in the market for small business to grow in comparison to its competitors, the business world is competitive and technology just might be the right tool which you need to embrace. Good Luck.