If you look at the most successful companies in your industry, you are likely to find a common theme that empowers their staff, creates massive efficiencies, and helps the executives extract meaningful information to make better business decisions. This investment gives these companies a competitive edge and has made them resilient to economic, natural, and human disasters. It generates time savings, more efficiencies, and reduced risks across billions of dollars of infrastructure and financial transactions and decades of economic and political ebbs and flows.
That investment is technology.
Recent research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) finds that investments companies make in information technology increase profitability more than investments in advertising or R&D do.
In an effort to help you unlock more time and profits and reduce risk in your business, here are three technologies available to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that will give you an edge over your competitors in 2017 and help you lead a more profitable and enjoyable enterprise.
Cloud Computing: Simply put, you use the “cloud” when you access software applications over the internet rather than from your own computer network. By renting space in the cloud from providers like Microsoft Office 365 and G Suite (Google Apps), you pay a flat monthly rate with zero maintenance rather than purchasing and maintaining your own servers in your office. Additionally, these software providers give you more powerful computers and many added features over the standard business software you host yourself. In the cloud, many business email accounts start at $5 per user per month plus free file storage as a bonus. You can reduce your costs from thousands per year in annual maintenance to hundreds by renting computing power from the world’s largest and safest providers. The end result: Less maintenance and enhanced capabilities.
Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM): Do you currently track your sales forecasts and customer details in a spreadsheet or home-grown database? Great start! You may be able to extract even more valuable insights from your data with a CRM. CRM systems help you automate your marketing functions and track sales deals more efficiently while holding your staff accountable to gather the right customer information. While the top CRM providers include Salesforce.com and InfusionSoft, there are many industry-specific options for your niche. By ditching your spreadsheets and manual follow-ups, you can automate your social media posts, track monthly newsletters, manage your pipeline and add sales forecasting to help you make more money in less time. Saving time and making more money? That’s a big win. The end result: More revenue and faster sales cycles.
Business Continuity: Network downtime is the number-one cause of financial loss due to technology failure. When your server crashes or a virus takes out your entire network, it’s not just the cost of repairs that hurts but the time you spend unable to collect sales and serve customers while you scramble to fix your computers. With the threats of ransomware, digital hackers and human errors causing billions in financial losses to U.S. businesses each year, SMBs are particularly vulnerable and require more robust protection. No longer is a simple data backup solution and antivirus from Best Buy enough; you need a solution that keeps your business network running in the event of any natural, human or technology disaster that is built specifically for businesses. Look for a business continuity solution and technical support provider that protect you from ransomware, give you around-the-clock technical support and give you predictable service on a small business budget throughout the year. The end result: Resilient assets and empowered employees.
In summary, your future investment in your technology platform will unlock loads of value within your organization. By empowering your staff with reliable technologies you make them happier and more efficient. By protecting your assets you add more value to your bottom line and build a more resilient business. And by enjoying success in business you can spend more time with your loved ones and your hobbies.
Chad Pavel is a partner at The Solution Department, a technology consulting firm in Trumbull serving small businesses. He can be reached at 203-913-1073 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.