The rapid advancement of technology may seem relentless, oftentimes scary. Particularly for small-to-medium enterprises, or SME’s, technology can seem too expensive or too complicated to use.
However, it is precisely because of the rapid advancement of technology that SME’s should embrace it. As time goes on, these tools become more reliable, more efficient, and more affordable. Today, there are a vast number of technologies available to SME’s to help them maximize their budget and make better use of what is often a more modest capital. These tools help SME’s increase their efficiency, help them become more versatile, and make them more visible in the digital landscape.
Technology allows small-to-medium enterprises to increase their productivity and streamline their operations by automating certain tasks. For example, programs can be set in place to automate workflow issues like staff leaves and claims, freeing up time for human resources to focus on other issues. Digital payroll solutions can be used to minimize, or in some cases, eliminate the tedious task of printing out pay slips manually. For businesses that offer quotations for certain products or services, an automated invoice system helps these companies create and send accurate pricing to clients.
Employee timekeeping can also be used not just to keep track of employees logging in and out, it can also be used to analyze the amount of time certain tasks take. This information can be used to manage how a business and its employees spend their time, creating more efficient workflow and improving accountability.
Because automation systems are digital, they can be accessed at anytime from anywhere, reducing the need for staff to approach their duties from the office at a particular time. By allowing technology to bear the brunt of tedious or repetitive jobs, small-to-medium enterprises can focus on more important things, like seeking out new clients or further developing their business strategies.
A lot of these automation technologies are made possible via cloud computing. In essence, cloud computing is using a third-party service to process your automated systems. This means that businesses who engage a cloud computing provider can minimize the number of servers and computers they’ll need in their workspace. This extra space can then be utilized to serve a variety of purposes, like storage or expansion, or can simply be closed off to reduce overhead costs. If possible, this space can also be rented out, creating a new income stream.
Streamlined business processes lead to better services and products, which in turn lead to increased customer satisfaction. With the advent of wearable and portable tech, such as mobile POS or smartphone/tablet integration, small-to-medium enterprises can further maximize the efficiency of their products and services and deliver superior quality over competitors who choose not to modernize or adapt to these new technologies.
More Ways to Profit
In an increasingly digital world, physical money is becoming a thing of the past. From contactless cards to mobile wallets, many businesses are now offering different ways for people to make a purchase. Mobile payments are one of the most profitable technologies that a small-to-medium enterprise can adopt. This method is simple, easy, and convenient – great incentives for clients to purchase from a business more regularly.
Industry giants already use some form of mobile payment system, which means that small-to-medium enterprises ought to follow suit in order to remain competitive. This has also had the unintended effect of increasing the security of some retailer’s brick-and-mortar sites. That is to say, retailers who operate shops that use mobile payments as their main form of transaction have less physical money on site, making them an unattractive target for would-be thieves.
Mobile payment technology is just one of the aspects of e-commerce. Simply put, e-commerce is any business transaction done over the internet. It’s not a new concept: e-commerce was one of the hottest trends back in the dot.com boom of the 90’s. But unlike most trends, e-commerce stuck around and redefined how businesses and consumers transact with one another.
With e-commerce, small-to-medium enterprises can create online sales funnels where their products and services can be viewed and purchased from anywhere in the world. Businesses with e-commerce services can also transact with other businesses; features like online directories or product and supply exchange websites make B2B easier.
Of course, with all this money flowing in and out of a business through the internet, SME’s with an e-commerce strategy can also take advantage of software that makes financial matters easier, more secure, and more accurate than manual accounting. Accounting software can consolidate many of the tasks in financial management, such as inventory management, payroll, invoicing, into one easy-to-use software. Accounting software also has the added advantage of encryption, more effectively securing all transactions that take place between business and client.
Get Your Name Out There
It would be an understatement to say that the internet has drastically changed, not just the way people do business, but also the way we live our lives. With digital marketing, particularly social media, becoming a huge factor in the business development of most companies, SME’s must then take advantage of the technologies available to them for their continued survival in the digital world.
Digital marketing is any type of marketing done virtually. This can take the form of social media posts, websites, content marketing, and a variety of digital solutions, each one designed to push a business to the top of the internet ladder. With more and more people relying on the internet for information, it’s imperative for SME’s to elevate themselves above the competition.
Websites are perhaps one of the most effective ways to boost a company’s visibility. They are the calling card of SME’s in the digital world. A well-designed website that attracts huge amounts of traffic increase a company’s visibility, which in turn can help it increase profit. Websites are also where SME’s can host their e-commerce pages, creating an avenue for customers to know more about their products and services as well as to purchase them.
The Internet’s immense influence is far-reaching, especially in the way it has democratized commerce. Now, people are more willing to listen to existing customer feedback than to corporate advertising. This means that SME’s can, with the right digital marketing and social media management, compete not just with other SME’s but also with large corporations. The trustworthiness of a company’s product or service is now, to an extent, in the hands of existing customers.
This customer-centric view of marketing allows SME’s to create avenues of interaction with their clients. Social media is one of the prime examples of brand-customer and customer-customer interaction. Customers engage with the brand as well as with each other, sharing their opinions about a company’s products or services. While this can be a double-edged sword, SME’s with digital management can mitigate negative reviews and increase their brand’s value by interacting with customers directly via the internet and making them feel like they’re talking to actual people and not just a faceless corporate entity.
Small-to-medium enterprises need to embrace new ways to approach their business. Technology will not stop growing and businesses need to keep up. With the right tools, tech-friendly SME’s can survive the future, and thrive in an environment that allows them to increase the quality of their products and services.