Technology is a great leveller for small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) wanting to compete on an even playing field.
With the growth of software-as-a-service products, SMBs are increasingly able to afford powerful tools that were traditionally barred to them because of the cost.
Here are some of the key technologies SMBs should be adopting to capitalise on their key advantage over their larger competitors – agility.
In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer's hard drive.
Examples include Microsoft’s Office Online, an internet-only version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, and Google Drive, accessed via your web browser without installing anything.
It’s an incredibly powerful tool for SMBs as it gives them access to enterprise-level tools on a subscription basis, meaning there’s no significant initial investment SMBs can ill afford and greater cost certainty.
Having a company’s data and applications in the cloud also gives SMBs flexibility of location, allowing them to work from anywhere with an Internet connection.
If cloud provides the software for flexibility, the hardware comes with mobile devices in the shape of tablets, smartphones and laptops.
Mobile devices are getting increasingly powerful at attractive price points, allowing them to service needs that previously required the computing power of a desktop system.
Leveraging the development of mobile devices allows SMBs to make only the hardware investment that is right for their business needs, not based on what's available in the market.
Consider how sophisticated mobile apps have become, putting access to extensive services at an SMB’s fingertips.
A great example of this is Bartercard’s online trading platform, which lets users shop 24/7 to source business essentials and barter with one another without an exchange of cash.
The Bartercard Mobile App integrates location finding, invoicing, and account management capabilities in the palm of a user's hand.
SMBs are using video conferencing or voice over IP (VoIP) technology to keep in touch with customers, suppliers or employees in different locations.
Video conferencing means that you’ll stay connected while minimising the travel time and expenses associated with visiting contacts and attending meetings, setting up and maintaining expensive phone cables, and having to stay by one phone in one location.
Unified communications systems are also more robust compared to traditional phone systems, with backup protocols built-in to ensure they don’t fail.
This can help SMBs ensure they never miss a potential sales lead and maintain responsiveness to their customers’ needs.