With small and medium-sized enterprises representing 60% of global GDP and 90% of jobs (according to Asia Global Institute), it’s clear that these smaller businesses are holding more sway in the corporate world than might be imagined. Though with a fairly low rate of success–only just over half of 2014 startups made it to their fifth year–the pressure is on ambitious entrepreneurs to find their edge in the marketplace and reach out to a wider number of consumers. With this in mind, there are a number of things that businesses can do to stay ahead of the game. Here are some of the technology-related strategies to be followed by every enterprise.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the transition from a basic to dynamic level of PC operation can lower IT staff time costs by 40%, though there are countless other reasons why businesses need their IT networks to be running to the best possible capacity. If you were wondering how businesses can improve PC performance, from antivirus to defragmentation, there are many more ways than one, but in order to get the most from your PCs, expert consultation may be the best place to start.
Small and medium businesses have more of an opportunity to stay in touch with colleagues, clients, customers, or partners than ever before, and failure to utilise every mode of communication available could even lead to loss. From business-oriented instant messaging services, such as Slack and Trello, that keep team members up-to-date with various media and across a range of platforms, to video conferencing services, such as Skype or GoToMeeting, that enable virtual meetings with multiple members, communication can now be immediate and limitless. Ineffective communications lead to failure in one third of projects, according to a study by Project Management Institute, so keeping all channels open is something businesses should always strive towards.
Finding the best talent
Most are familiar with the well-known saying, ‘a company is only as good as its best employees’, so business owners are usually aware of the importance of hiring the most skilled and capable staff. In the internet age, connecting with those with the particular skills required is easier and quicker. Software solutions for taking on human resources tasks are wide-ranging and prolific in the number of functions they can perform. As well as sourcing talent and handling onboarding and training, HR software such as BambooHR can take on a range of other responsibilities.
In the UK, people spend as much as one day online every week, according to a report from Ofcom. In a world where people are spending an increasing amount of their time on the internet, it follows that this is where marketing needs to be directed to. This means staying current with trends and technologies and finding the best in digital marketing talent. Current techniques in digital marketing include content marketing, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), social media marketing, video marketing and multichannel marketing. Everyone is looking for the next opportunity.
The 21st century has seen a move towards a paperless office and an increasingly more automated business processes. This has made businesses infinitely more efficient and productive. Information management includes the organisation, storage, structuring, processing and distribution of information. Data is more often viewed as a corporate asset, and the way that it is managed is of crucial importance to all businesses. For a business world that is becoming ever-more information focussed, it is essential for all employees to be instantly connected with all of the vital information they need to perform in any number of tasks.
The use of cloud technology may be a concept that we are all familiar with, but the question is not whether we are using the cloud, but how we are using it. This is a billion-dollar industry that continues to grow at an exponential rate, with cloud services proliferating at a similar rate. Much more than just storage and file transfer, businesses can make the most of Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS), among other similarly-named solutions. Just about any other service that can be potentially serviced remotely, such as backup and disaster recovery, can be cloud-based as well. With increased speed, convenience and communication, all SMEs need to consider is security.
As we move towards a cashless society and markets become more open to new payment systems, businesses in a variety of fields can take advantage of these new technologies to increase their sales. Mobile payments are on the rise, and they could be made through a company app or through a separate payment app, such as Venmo or Apple Pay. Contactless payments have been more common, and payments are also made via QR codes by companies such as Alipay and Swish. Enterprises that follow trends and provide a greater range in the modes of payment systems they offer will almost certainly find this reflected in their sales.
With such a fast growth in the development of technology in the modern world, the corporate landscape is changing from one day to the next, as CEOs struggle to keep up. Being informed and familiar with all new technologies as they arise is important for management and employees in all departments, to ensure the company is ready for the next change before it happens. Those experienced SME leaders know that falling behind can be costly and even fatal, so the only approach is to keep looking forward.