11 Ways for Small Businesses to Leverage Powerful Technology

The rate of technological change right now is incredible and those companies that are able to harness it are poised to capture the market. Many small businesses assume they are simply not able to participate and that the costs of joining the digital revolution are prohibitively expensive. Whether you’re an IT provider looking for comprehensive remote management capabilities or a small manufacturer trying to improve inventory efficiency, that is not always the case, however. Below are 11 ways for small businesses to leverage powerful technology.

AI

As companies seek to increase productivity, many are turning to AI. However, the cost of implementing AI can be high, but small businesses can now leverage powerful AI capabilities via simple software applications that are fairly inexpensive.

Virtual & Augmented Reality

According to Goldman Sachs’ research, VR and AR technologies are forecasted to grow into a $110 billion market by 2025. These can be used by small businesses to generate excitement around new products, reveal hidden insights about customer interactions, or offer immersive tours of their facility.

The Cloud

Cloud computing allows access to shared online software and databases that can be accessed by employees regardless of location. This technology enables small businesses to reduce costs by not having to run servers themselves, due to the accessibility of internet-based cloud services.

Mobile Applications

Smartphone app usage and download stats are show continued increases, leaving a substantial market for companies that have the resources to build compelling applications. Websites or mobile apps can help a company create a brand presence and allow customers a convenient way for interacting with a business in fundamental ways such as making purchases online.

Communications Technology (VOIP)

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) allows businesses to make and receive phone calls using a broadband internet connection instead of a regular phone line. One can either set up their own VoIP system or subscribe to services from a company offering the service, which could offer the best of both worlds – a free trial period with premium features.

Bots

Intelligent chatbots are great for small businesses, as they can help manage various functions, including order processing and customer service interactions. These “bots” monitor social media channels to interact with customers – 24/7 if necessary, but these bots typically work best with general FAQs.

More and more businesses are now leveraging chatbots to increase productivity and reduce costs as they offer a lower-cost service than humans, but the quality of their interactions depend greatly on how well they’re programmed – or whether one’s willing to spend the time developing them. Additionally, chatbots can be used to process orders and answer customer service questions, as well as track inventory/sales.

Inventory Management

Using new technology such as NFC tags, RFID scanner integration with smartphones, radio-frequency identification (RFID) scanning software and barcode scanners make it easier for small businesses to accurately manage inventory levels.

Digital Signage

According to a report from BI Intelligence, digital signs — which can vary in size and functionality — enable businesses to communicate with consumers via video and other multimedia content and reach them on the go. And if one is interested in using smart signage (e.g., touchscreen), they’ll want to ensure their device has the latest version of Android installed. 

Voice Assistant Integration

As small businesses are increasingly investing in digital assistants for the home, they’re looking to integrate them into new devices for work-related tasks. These devices include smart speakers, “smart” mirrors and kiosks with a built-in touch screen.

Internet of Things (IoT)

In the coming years, small businesses will see an increase in demand from customers for better technology to assist them with their everyday lives as more devices become connected via the Internet of Things (IoT). Companies can take advantage by designing products compatible with IoT technology or simply focusing on making existing products more user friendly through IoT integration and better use of things like QR codes

Virtual Reality Conferences & Meetups

There are numerous virtual meetings/conferences, meetups and groups related to VR, AR and AI-powered by Google+ Hangouts on Air – which are free to attend. Programs are typically free of charge and don’t require a commitment of more than a few hours per week.

 

Conclusion

There’s no shortage of resources available to small businesses as the shift towards digital business models accelerates. Moreover, as technology becomes more affordable and user-friendly for smaller companies, those that don’t keep up with these changing dynamics will find themselves left behind. Those that do can improve their bottom line by getting closer to customers and fine-tuning their operations.

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