“As technology has evolved,” says Ad Age, “every aspect of the way businesses operate has transformed to keep up.” But even with an increasing use of software resources, small businesses still aren’t reaping all the benefits technology has to offer. According to a SAP-sponsored survey of global small businesses, most say that they are only at the “early stages” of digitally transforming their companies.
That’s unfortunate because, as SCORE indicates, small and midsized companies that led in adoption of technology increased annual sales 15% faster than companies that didn’t adopt new technology.
Interestingly, the same Microsoft study responsible for the statistic above also breaks small to midsized businesses into three categories when it comes to a willingness to embrace technology:
The Leaders – These companies use a variety of technologies such as cloud-based software, services and apps; online, social and mobile capabilities, VoIP and messenger apps; plus productivity hardware and software. These organizations look for the latest technological innovations, such as managing customer relationships or analyzing data, as possible solutions to increase their productivity and profits.
The Followers – While this group doesn’t necessarily shun technology, they’re not quick to adopt it either. They typically wait to incorporate technology tools once they’re well established. By way of example, about 30% of small companies have VoIP and 60% have a website, but they’re still not using cloud-based solutions. Furthermore, they’re only minimally making use of mobile apps. This group’s revenue and job growth, therefore, is significantly lower than what leaders experience.
The Laggards – While it’s hard to believe, there are still businesses that fall into this group. These small organizations have no online presence; only 60% of them even use computers, go online, or use productivity solutions. Needless to say, their businesses perform far below either the leaders or followers.
What group does your small business fall under? And if you’re not currently in “The Leaders” group, why not?
Isn’t it Time Your Small Business Started Reaping the Benefits of Embracing Technology?
In our rapidly changing digital economy, it’s time for your small businesses to take a page from the Leaders playbook. Technology is only going to continue to evolve and advance, so if your small company is willing and able to access, learn, and adapt digital innovation, you’ll enjoy greater success.
SCORE suggests the following 5 ways your small business can reap big dividends from embracing technology:
1. Use technology to connect with new markets, collaborators and customers – Cloud-based communication tools such as VoIP, online portals, and social networks, help companies build stronger relationships and more satisfied customers.
2. Capitalize on technology’s scalability and flexibility – If your business happens to get mentioned on TV and experiences a surge of orders, for example, you can use pay-as-you-go cloud services to quickly scale up so you can handle the traffic and your website doesn’t crash.
With cloud computing, you can also easily downscale your IT requirements as needed. This will allow you to support your business growth and other organizational changes without expensive adjustments to your existing IT systems.
3. Use technology to streamline operations – Cloud technology helps you manage your vendors, customers, and inventory more efficiently. You can also take advantage of integrated, cloud-based eCommerce & POS systems that use a single database to manage inventory between your website and point of sale in one seamless process.
In addition to streamlining the inventory process, these cloud-based platforms offer real time data, so you’ll always have an accurate view of inventory numbers and other important data as long as you have access to the internet.
Business.com cites a Frost & Sullivan survey showing that companies investing in collaboration technologies increased productivity by as much as 400%. With cloud computing, employees can collaborate the same real time information necessary to accomplish their goals, whether that involves receiving inventory, processing transactions, or adding products to their POS.
4. Use technology to innovate and experiment – Try out new technologies to see what they can do for your organization. Thanks to pay-as-you-go models, you can test out a variety of software platforms and see what works without a staggering financial commitment.
5. Adopt technology with costs in mind – Don’t just shell out money for new whistles and bells. Spending more on technology doesn’t equal growth. Instead, look for tech tools that offer flexible payment models. You’ll also want to look for tools that offer real value and carefully assess the long-term benefit of the technology to be sure it can serve you for years to come.
According to Fast Company, 64%, of Bank of America (BofA) Small Business Owner Survey respondents said they wish they took better advantage of technology innovations to help manage their business.
The great thing is…they can. And so can you! If your small business can identify a genuine need, the technology to fulfill that need most likely exists.
As Fast Company points out, “There are few barriers to entry in an age where anyone with wireless can cheaply and quickly access the enabling technologies needed to execute their business model.” You just need to create the appropriate operating blueprint that “connects the dots between your business model and the application of accessible technologies.”
In so doing, you’ll become one of the small business Leaders that is able to increase sales 15% faster than companies that don’t adopt new technology.