Business technology is changing the way we live, buy, and work. New technologies like artificial intelligence and big data are no longer sci-fi buzzwords but actionable technologies that even SMEs can take advantage of. Therefore, today’s businesses can run at higher levels of efficiency and productivity than ever before.
The problem is that many business owners, especially those running smaller businesses, overlook the ease of use, benefits, and long-term potential of some of the most useful tech. Partly, because they already feel bombarded with technology options every sales rep claims are the Next Big Thing.
So the question is, what technologies should a business be using right now? Which ones will drive growth, improve the customer experience and accelerate productivity? This isn’t about being an early adopter — it’s about equipping yourself with the tools necessary to keep your business operating at maximum efficiency. Here are the tech options your business should not be overlooking.
It’s hard to argue against the fact that digital technology has made life easier for most of us. The problem is that the same technology also exposes us to new threats. Every business owner needs to take cybersecurity seriously, no matter how small or niche. In fact, the smaller the business, the more they need to focus on protecting digital assets, finances, and data.
From customer information to employee tax details, all information needs to be protected if those with malicious intent are prevented from causing harm. The following needs to be a priority:
- Ensuring that all members of your team have regular cybersecurity training sessions
- Adopting two-factor authentication
- Making use of password-management tools.
However, when it comes to tech, it’s important to look at options like firewalls, VPNs, and only using cloud-based digital tools. A combination of all three cybersecurity tech resources will benefit the security of your business.
No business model will succeed without customers, and those customers need to be engaged and satisfied at every step of the buyer’s journey. But consumers now have more ways to communicate with brands than ever, making keeping up to date with what they need to know extremely difficult.
One of the best ways to ensure customers are always delighted is to introduce technologies that streamline communications between the business and the customer. That’s where chatbots come in. Don’t make the common mistake of thinking chatbots are still stuck in that lackluster phase of 2016. They’ve evolved, and they’re more powerful and useful than ever.
A chatbot can now communicate across multiple channels at once, in multiple languages, and in ways that reflect their understanding of customer intent. Overlooking these chatbot benefits to customers, and many other benefits can be a big mistake. AI-powered chatbots are no longer just nice-to-have; they have quickly become a technology that no business owner can afford to ignore.
If you sell a product, managing your inventory is most likely one of the biggest causes of headaches. You have to deal with seasonal fluctuations (from both your customers and your suppliers), and you also have to make sure you’re not left with outdated stock on shelves. Overstocking can cause major damage to a business of any size, and the tighter your profit margins, the more important inventory management will be.
Inventory management software can be a game-changer. A good software package makes it easier to record your stock levels and will also give you high-value insights that can guide business growth. Your operational workflows will be easier to monitor, and scaling up will be significantly easier.
The Just-in-Case (JIC) inventory model is quickly becoming a dangerous approach to running a business. Most savvy business owners have made the switch to Just-in-Time (JIT), which, although not perfect, makes inventory budgeting safer. The risk is that both models can result in customers walking away dissatisfied. The right inventory-management software ensures your stock is not hindering your growth, whether you’re using JIT or JIC.
Never underestimate the value of using well-designed cloud-based accounting software. While very few business owners get excited about balancing the books (and are more likely to put it off than tackle accounting tasks regularly), accounting software changes business management considerably.
This is largely due to automation. In the old days of pen and paper bookkeeping, the same information and numbers had to be inputted manually, over and over again. Now, adding your profits for the day in the right place means that information is added everywhere it needs to be. That’s great news for saving time, but it’s not where the usefulness of accounting software ends.
With the in-depth financial insights provided by most accounting software, you get snapshots that can be extremely valuable. You’ll know exactly when you’ve overspent on your marketing, where you’ve underspent on inventory, which of your customers haven’t paid you, and the suppliers that haven’t delivered the goods you’ve ordered. When used wisely, accounting software can be the key to knowing exactly when you can expand and grow your business.
While the above list isn’t an exhaustive look at your business technology options, they remain the most important choices to consider in 2022. However, you will need to consider the size of your business, the sector you work in, and your profit margins.
These four technologies are so important because they all offer some form of automation, and in today’s highly competitive business landscape, the less time wasted, the more of a competitive edge you have. That alone can be the key to not just growing your business but also overtaking your competitors, no matter their size. Embrace the available technology, and you’ll find your business isn’t just more efficient but more likely to achieve its goals.