7 Essential Small Business Tech Innovations for 2020
In this day and age where putting up a business can be done with just a few clicks of a mouse, it’s important that small businesses keep up with the latest innovations that will give them the competitive edge necessary to thrive and rise above the rest.
That being said, here are some of the most essential tech innovations that small businesses should invest in this year:
The 21st century has been littered with incredible technology, and arguably the most disruptive and revolutionary of them all is artificial intelligence (AI). AI-based tools can bring your small business tons of benefits, one of which is improving sales and marketing through AI-infused customer-relationship management (CRM). CRM systems are specifically designed to collect customer data across various communication channels such as email, phone and social media platforms which can help improve sales. With the help of AI, Forbes wrote that CRMs can help augment lead generation results and acquire insights relevant to marketing and sales, thus optimising almost the entire customer acquisition process.
The most recent industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, is characterised by the automation of manufacturing processes. However, the benefits of automation extend to many other businesses beyond the manufacturing industry. Aside from helping you process, analyse and organise large amounts of data so you can implement personalisation strategies, automation can also help you leverage a remote workforce. Business2Community suggest that automation will enable small businesses to access the talent and expertise they need, and reduce overhead costs such as rent, office equipment and utilities because the need for employees to be in the same location is effectively eliminated.
The constant need of customers to be connected at all times makes it extremely important that businesses have mobile-optimised websites that will not only increase the quality and quantity of traffic, but also make it applicable for mobile users. As emphasised in our previous post on the ‘6 Steps to Make Your Website a Success’, to achieve a successfully optimised website, it is necessary that companies have systematic test runs and updated content. Aside from an optimised website, businesses can also take advantage of mobile technology in their physical stores by investing in mobile payment options. An overview of mobile payment options by FIS Global explains how providing access to mobile payment options can lead to improved customer service and enhanced security against employee theft and fraud. Instead of having them wait in slow checkout queues, your staff can offer to process payments throughout the store, increasing customer engagement.
While it is true that most of the customers today turn to messaging apps and social media platforms to connect with brands and seek support, there are still some customers who prefer to communicate through calls, and the same can be said for some business partners as well. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or IP telephony allows businesses to deliver voice communication at a more affordable price compared to traditional telephone lines. Since VoIPs are cloud-hosted, Business News Daily explains that small companies will no longer need to run special wiring, buy and install special equipment or employ IT staff to maintain it.
Small businesses may have a hard time competing with big enterprises due to limited resources, but they can make up for it with smart management and by using data. Biz Tech Magazine details that data analytics can help small businesses determine how each of their product and/or services are performing, and find novel sources of revenue which is particularly crucial for businesses of their size. Data analytics can also be utilised to learn about customer behaviour – their preference and what exactly piques their interest – which can serve as a guide for organisations as they craft marketing strategies and develop new products.
There are many ways blockchain can be beneficial to your budding business. For one, blockchain can help eliminate the complexities of enforcing negotiated clauses through smart contracts. With smart contracts, small businesses no longer need a third party to draft the contract and ensure that everyone involved abides by it. Ed Sappin pointed out in an article on Medium that blockchain effectively gives companies an affordable yet unbreakable option in carrying out the terms of a certain agreement. Blockchain can also help organisations by supporting cryptocurrency, which can help reduce transaction costs, provide faster payment methods and improve customer access based on an article by The Business Journals.
For most small businesses, some of their biggest concerns include the accuracy of payroll calculations, benefits, tax implications and deductions. All of these can be easily resolved with the employment of human resource (HR) technology. Since HR technology can be purchased through software-as-a-subscription (SaaS), Entrepreneur highlights that small organisations can incorporate various statutory rules to the payment of wages, and serve as an affordable and convenient alternative to traditional licensed HR software. Aside from payroll management, HR technology can also take over low-value activities such as attendance tracking and claims management, enabling HR employees to focus on matters that are far more urgent.
Establishing a business is hard, keeping it afloat and ensuring that it flourishes is even harder. Given this reality, it is then crucial for small businesses to employ some of the most essential tech innovations such as artificial intelligence, automation, mobile technology, IP telephony, data analytics, HR technology and blockchain to separate them from the crowd.