Most of us are probably aware that the sheer amount of technology available to us today has transformed not only the way we think but also how we live our lives. Just look around and see how wired our lives have become. And it is not just our personal world that has undergone tremendous change; technology has revolutionized the way we conduct business as well.
Innovations in the fields of communication and information technology have made seemingly shrunk the world and the term ‘global village’ seems so apt in today’s world. From designing a product to getting that product delivered to your doorstep, we live in a world where technology makes us feel like anything is possible. So much so that we cannot imagine a future without it.
If businesses want to succeed, they need to embrace the current technological trends that are available out there and stay abreast with advancements in the field in order to stay relevant. If you are a small business owner, here are five pivotal technology trends you should get on board with.
Website Implementation and Management Tools: Gone are the days when your business could get away with just printing a handful of business cards and pamphlets and relying on word-of-mouth marketing. The age of websites and online marketing is upon us. Your customers are going to find it odd when they realize that your business doesn’t have a website; they might even question your credibility. Moreover, you will be missing out on thousands of potential customers who scour the internet to find out what your business offers. As a result, your competitors who have websites stand to gain from your lack of technological enthusiasm.
Cloud Computing: Today, data has become a key strategic and competitive asset for businesses irrespective of their size or the field they are in. For small businesses, it may not be financially feasible to set up their own servers or data centers, or have an internal IT department to oversee the storage and management of all their data. That’s where cloud computing comes in. Don’t be alarmed, it isn’t as complicated as you may believe. Cloud computing is just a blanket term for the numerous remote computing models available for individuals and businesses to store data and applications on remote servers. Cloud service providers have a variety of packages to cater to the specific needs of just about any business. All you have to do is pick one and leave the rest to your service provider.
Online Payment Gateways: There may come a time in the near future when digital forms of payment such as bitcoin and other altcoins will replace traditional banknotes. India saw a sudden spike in the number of people resorting to digital payments and transactions either through net banking or payment gateways and online wallets such as PayTM and MobiKwik, during the currency crunch of 2016 following the demonetization of ₹500 and ₹1000 banknotes. When customers don’t carry cash with them anymore and expect to make digital payments, businesses need to accommodate their needs. You could look at options such as PayPal, PayTM, Google Pay, Razor Pay, CCAvenue or Instamojo and see what works best for your business.
CRM: Does your business still use spreadsheets to keep track of customers, their contact details, call logs, appointments and meetings? This system might work if you have a 50-100 customers. But what happens when your business grows and your team has a thousand customers to keep track of? Not only would it be extremely time-consuming and chaotic in the long run but also unsustainable!
Won’t our lives become so much easier if there was a software that could store existing and potential customer details, make calls and send emails, schedule appointments and meetings and even generate reports? That is exactly what a CRM does. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and it offers a single platform from where you can manage your business’s sales-related activities.
Chatbots and Emails: If you browse popular websites of product or service companies, you may have noticed how most of them have a feature where you can chat instantly with someone from their support team. Half the time, it may not be a real person sitting on the other side! This simulation of a real interaction with your website users through a chat interface is what a chatbot does. The rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made chatbots smarter, with people often not even realizing that they are interacting with a bot and not with an actual human being. Investing in a chatbot service can save you time, money and manpower that can otherwise be used to grow your business. Checkout services such as Botsify or gupshup to add a chatbot if you already have a website for your business.
Coming to emails, if you still manually send out promotional emails to everybody, you may very well still be using a Rolodex to manage your clients and partners. Here’s a gentle reminder that the age of automation is here to stay. Email marketing giant, Mailchimp offers the best service out there. If you are a business that is just starting out, Mailchimp’s Forever Free Plan would be ideal for you until you grow your subscriber base to beyond 2000. You can send up to 12,000 emails per month under this plan and upgrade to a paid plan as your business grows.
Integrating technology into your business isn’t always as expensive as most business owners think it is. There are so many options these days that you are bound to find a service provider who will satisfy your exact requirements. All you have to do is a little bit of research to find what you want. Keeping yourself informed about the up and coming technological trends in business is one way to ensure that you don’t fall behind or that the technology your business currently uses doesn’t become obsolete. You need to be not only business savvy these days, you need to be tech savvy too!