It seems incredible in this age of information that small businesses are quite frequently not taking advantage of technology to its fullest potential. Many small business owners consider information technology to be merely another expense that should be kept to the bare minimum. While there is nothing wrong with this mentality in principle, the reality is that IT can in fact save every business a lot of time and a lot of money.
Research has shown that particularly in the area of sales and marketing, it would be extremely wise for small businesses to take advantage of computing and information technology. The revolution that has taken place with regards to the Internet and more recently the cloud is indicative of a more modern business world in which the stringent, dated ways of working are increasingly becoming obsolete.
By taking advantage of information technology, businesses can allow employees to telecommute; thus, effectively working from home. Not only is this beneficial for both the business and the employee, but there has also been published research which shows that people would be willing to accept a smaller salary in exchange for being able to complete at least some of their work from home.
Additionally, upgrading server infrastructure with the most upgrading server infrastructure with the most efficient and energy efficient technology available has also been shown to be physically beneficial for small businesses.
And it would be extremely remiss of even the smallest company to fail to take advantage of mobile technology. There are many obvious benefits of mobile technology, not least the fact that smartphone a tablet technology has become extremely popular in recent years. Mobile technology offers opportunities both within and outside of the workplace. While many people might presume that mobile technology can mostly be utilised outside of the office, the advent of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is ensuring that Mobile technology can also be utilised to the convenience of small businesses within the workplace as well.
Finally, video conferencing and other related technology is making it possible for even small businesses to carry out meetings and other discussions and functions that would once have taken place on a face-to-face basis over the Internet. This not only save money on such things as conference facilities, but also offers small companies excellent logistical advantages with regard to getting stuff together in one place.
How else can smarter IT benefits your small business? Here are a few suggestions:
Use what you’ve got
Most businesses actually have a pretty good computing and software portfolio already in place. What is not always the case is that such companies are taking advantage of the power at their fingertips. For example, almost all modern businesses have Microsoft office installed, but actually utilising this software package to its full potential is in fact quite rare. Building databases of customers via Microsoft Access and then merging this document with other programs within the Microsoft office family such as Excel and Word can save a lot of time and money.
Use your PC as a telephone
This one is pretty self explanatory. Modern desktop computers enable users to utilise them as sophisticated telecommunications devices. Web-based services such as Skype enable companies to bring their clients together in one place easily, and even showcase products and product lines. Not only is this convenience and intuitive, it also costs either nothing on next to nothing in virtually every case. Even international calls can be made via Skype for a fraction of the costs associated with traditional telecommunications.
Automate your companies processes
It’s always intimidating prospect to change manual systems with which you are well accustomed to entirely digital systems; the so-called paperless office. However, the rewards of doing so can offer far outweigh the efforts of setting up such an operation. If you are still doing invoicing, receiving, purchasing, and inventory control the old-fashioned way there any you are almost certainly wasting quite a lot of time man-hours and money.
IT can help you automate those processes and save money. Automate your processes as much as possible and trim unnecessary overhead. Country to the expectations that one might have, or preconceptions about how much such a process might cost, automating a company’s Systems in this way usually pays for itself within a matter of months.
While it is natural and indeed preferable to attempt to complete as much work as possible in-house, outsourcing it can often be cost-effective and free staff to work on more important projects within a company. Given the amount of highly qualified freelancers now easily available at the click of a button online, outsourcing tasks particularly those related to writing and computer programming, can often pay off handsomely.
Move work online and to the cloud
Many small businesses have realised that cloud computing in particular offers them a world of opportunity. Not only does the cloud enable small companies to potentially completely replaced expensive hardware with software-based solutions, it also enables them to deal with datasets that’s what ones have been far too large to be manageable. So-called Big Data is revolutionising the way that modern commerce operates, and the collation, organisation and analysis of this data Will prove increasingly important in the businesses off the future.
While some companies may have reservations about cloud based or Internet based working due to security considerations, the reality is that such a working approach is already more secure than traditional methods. So moving work to the cloud potentially offers businesses economic savings increased security and access to new methods of working that it gives than a head start over competitors.