Stakeholders’ reluctance to embrace pioneering digitally-driven change is, to a certain extent, understandable. Leading-edge hardware and software has, historically, been expensive. Installation processes were also often problematic. Today, though, advanced technology is accessible to organizations of all sizes; the emergence of virtualized infrastructure having leveled the relevant playing field. In short, enterprise technology is no longer the preserve of elite-level corporations; here are five reasons you need to digitize your small business now.
1. Improve Organizational Agility
In an ever-changing world, if you adapt quickly, you are more likely to succeed. Virtual and decentralized digital resources make agile practice eminently achievable. When digital infrastructure is both housed and managed externally, alterations can be made instantaneously. Historically, small businesses would need to purchase more software licenses in order to accommodate potential growth. Software as a service (SaaS) allows small businesses to access additional licenses as required. The same is true of physical hardware such as servers; if a company needs to upgrade such a resource, they can pay a fee and access it instantaneously.
Finally, accessing resources online makes it significantly easier digitize your small business and allow employees to work from home. Virtual resources help businesses attract and retain talent; a 2019 employee-satisfaction survey found that 68% of respondents wanted more flexible working conditions.
2. Reduce Operational Costs
As stated previously, SaaS negates the need for businesses to stockpile licenses, thus reducing the cost of maintaining software portfolios. Off-site servers bring about significant savings, too. Studies have revealed that companies that migrate to virtual servers see operating costs fall by an average of 36%.
Using digital infrastructure instead of traditional analogue lines for telephonic communication is a further example of technology that can deliver considerable savings. Companies that opt for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems typically see their telecoms expenses fall by between 30-50% on average. Hosting systems on common office equipment (such as PCs, laptops and tablets), means that installation costs are consistently low because little additional hardware is required.
3. Motivate Your Employees
When you digitize your small business, there are benefits to your employees as well. People that are aware that they are competing with one another are often more alert and better at recalling information. Small businesses can leverage tech to take advantage of this phenomenon by using it to ‘gamify’ working environments.
By collecting key metrics concerning the performance of individual employees, feeding these into customized dashboards via APIs and displaying them within the workplace, you can drive awareness of competition within your workforce.
4. Put ‘Small Data’ to Work
The term ‘big data’ has become so commonplace over the past few years that businesses have forgotten how valuable ‘small’ data can be. Small data is often a more effective tool for those looking to enhance their understandings of their customers and practices. If, for example, your small business uses a website, then Google Analytics is a useful resource. This free software helps webmasters examine how users interact with their site and optimize it accordingly. If users land on but exit a page without interacting with it (known as ‘bounce rate’), the page is not providing visitors with the information they are looking for. Carefully analyzing and revising the page’s content can resolve this issue; this results in more users taking valuable actions on your site.
Simple client surveys can be another valuable source of ‘small’ data. Whereas the creation and collection of these resources have, historically, been cumbersome, both have been streamlined by digital technology. The tasks of drafting, disseminating and collating the results of surveys can all be undertaken through single platforms. Services like those provided by Survey Monkey provide even the smallest business with the tools to acquire vital feedback; this feedback can help small businesses improve their offerings.
5. Improve Productivity
Time is indisputably the most valuable resource an organization has at its disposal. Successful businesses use time efficiently – and productivity is inked to technology. Providing an exhaustive list of how it can be used to enhance organizational efficiency is simply not possible.
In many instances, productivity-producing tech is now ubiquitous. Email is a pertinent example. It allows employees to communicate effectively, thus enabling collaboration. More advanced collaboration suites provide teams with multiple features including videoconferencing and team messaging solutions. The average employee attends 62 meetings every month, so it stands to reason that collaboration software will quickly generate a positive return on investment.
Automation, whilst still often perceived as high-end tech, is both an accessible and effective means of driving greater productivity. Chatbots can be programmed without the involvement of developers to provide support to customers and employees alike. Automating email campaigns via simple interfaces gives you the ability to easily plan for future communications. It can also assist with laborious processes across other business functions including payroll, recruitment and data management.
The Bottom Line
Enterprise technology is now widely available and easy to use, even for small businesses. Not only is not the time to digitize your small business, but you should also be consistently reviewing your technology strategy. This provides an opportunity to identify new and innovative ways to improve your business. Rest assured, those that do are certain to be those that grow – even during testing times.