Small business owners should aim to be masters of efficiency, which is why it’s crucial to make smart investments in tech and software programs.
Whether it’s accounting software, bookkeeping programs, or more intricate project management tools, owners can grow their small businesses by leaps and bounds with the right investments.
Top Technology Investment Drivers for Small Businesses
It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise coming into 2021 that businesses are looking to technology as a way to get a better handle on their outgoings.
Financial and accounting software tops the bill as far as implementing tech solutions goes. SMBs still reeling from the pandemic need to find new ways to manage their cash flow and anticipate future disruptions in a way that will allow them to prepare for any uncertainty.
Organizations that already had these solutions in place were able to operate a lot more effectively when the pandemic hit, particularly when using cloud software and automation technology.
Companies that were able to use this tech to automate many of their manual accounts payable tasks, like invoicing processing, payment reconciliation, and purchase order matching, were able to gain a competitive edge over businesses still using legacy systems.
Naturally, when a business is having a bad year, as did virtually every organization last year, the onus is on generating as much revenue as possible to make up for shortfalls.
For most businesses, this meant improving their inside sales capabilities, and as a result a focus on technology solutions that could do this.
One example of this investment we’ve seen is an increased emphasis on utilizing cloud marketing and sales platforms with segmentation and automation capabilities.
This has allowed businesses to pivot and personalize their products and services for their customers.
In a Deloitte survey, they found that 58% of consumers were able to name a brand that was able to quickly pivot their offerings and accommodate them.
Improve operational efficiency
Trimming the fat has been top of the agenda for most of 2020 and this will continue into 2021. Companies are looking towards tech implementations that can help drive efficiencies in their business operations and cut down on unnecessary expenditures.
Most of these technologies are targeted towards alleviating manual processes that are time-consuming. Data entry is a common example of this—where technology exists today to automate almost any task that would traditionally require a human worker to input information.
Improving operations in this manner means businesses can refocus their workforce towards jobs that humans while utilizing software bots for menial tasks that would otherwise cost in terms labor and efficiency.
Improve IT capability to promote agility and innovation
If 2020 showed anything, it’s that businesses need to be agile in times of uncertainty.
With particular regard to the work-from-home situation, the IT departments of businesses were tested to limits as they sought to ensure that their organizations could continue to operate effectively outside the office.
This led to a significant boost in demand for collaboration suites and video conferencing software like Microsoft Teams and Zoom as businesses looked to keep their employees working seamlessly in their new environments.
88% of office workers say they need a dependable, unified data search platform that would help them do their jobs better.
This also led to an increase in investiture in IT capabilities in general. Consider provisioning, for example, which of course became a lot more difficult once the pandemic hit and companies were dealing with remote workers.
Solutions that allow IT to track and monitor employee devices to keep them secure and push necessary updates became essential tools for IT departments.
Determine your needs
While many of these solutions are ubiquitous across all industries, it’s likely that there are aspects of your business where you need more specific individual help.
For some, accounting and bookkeeping can feel like an overwhelming task, while others might struggle with securing data and need help with that.
We only have to look at some of our own clients to understand this. One of our clients, ZMac, needed a custom software application to support its logistics operations, which we built from the ground up and allowed the business to stand out from competitors in the market by offering a better solution for its customers through tech.
For those looking for help with finding the right software for your business functions, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions before investing in a program. It’s common for software platforms to come on their own with just that one solution, and many businesses still use legacy systems that support only one function today.
Newer ERP platforms, which combine and integrate a variety of different services for all business functions, offer improved flexibility. When considering investing in new solutions for your SMB, be sure that the system is future-proof and scalable in case you want to incorporate other functions, like HR, supply chain management, or business analytics.
An estimated 95% of businesses report improvements in their processes after ERP implementation. For example, automated tasks for processing data entry can free up employees to focus their energies on tasks that require a human touch
A look at the most-used software programs for small businesses shows that finance and accounting software is at the top of the list, with data and information security close behind. Business owners should seriously consider investing in data and security programs, as security breaches can be costly—and often deadly—for small businesses.
There are ways to protect your business’ information, such as regularly running data backups and ensuring your employees are informed about best security practices.
Newer next-gen security solutions, however, will be your best ally in preventing cyberattacks as cybercriminals continue to use more sophisticated methods each year to hack victims.
Project management software programs are also great investments for small businesses. These programs can be particularly useful for companies who have various teams handling multiple projects at once.
Project management software can create real-time online workspaces where team members can collaborate and fine-tune project pipelines, which is crucial for meeting deadlines and keeping everyone on the team communicating effectively, regardless of their department or physical location.
69% of CFOs said that keeping information siloed in departments is the biggest or most common financial mistake that companies make today.
For companies who work with customers on a regular basis, customer relationship management (CRM) software might be a worthwhile investment.
CRM software helps businesses create relationships with customers, recording and saving all relevant details such as customers’ contact information, account details, and potential sales opportunities. This can be great for customer retention, finding new leads, and ultimately increasing sales revenue.
Along those same lines, another cost- and time-cutting customer service option is to simply automate your social media ad campaigns. As FavouriteBlog explains, there are several tools that can effectively streamline your interactions with post responses, earn conversions, track interactions, and so forth.
Assess Your Budget
Some tech and software programs can lure business owners into additional features that may be completely unnecessary, so it’s a good idea to see where you might save money by finding specific software that meets your individual needs.
Call In the Experts
If you don’t have the time or bandwidth to learn and make the most of new and emerging software programs, consider investing in a top-tier managed service provider like Impact. Let us tailor our expertise and insights to the implementation of your tech solutions and processes.
From the ground up, we will assess your business, design appropriate solutions and strategies to meet your needs, and ensure powerful results and clear KPIs that can be properly assessed on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Take a hard look at where your business may be lacking to see if there is a simple digital solution. While finance and accounting software is often the most pressing for business owners, there are many other ways that technology can help you further your business goals, streamline projects, and manage customers and prospects better.
And if you’re spread too thin to take on bigger tech projects on your own, look to Impact to help you solve your problems.
Advanced technology solutions help companies achieve and maintain a competitive advantage. Through leveraging the tools available, you can increase productivity and decrease unnecessary costs. For more information about cloud technology solutions and how they can help your SMB, download our free eBook, “Which Cloud Option Is Right For Your Business?”