Technology plays an increasingly powerful role in accelerating the growth and development of today’s small businesses. As applications have migrated to the cloud, smaller companies have become empowered to access the benefits of highly sophisticated applications without the expense of installing and maintaining them on-premise.
With that shift has also come a new realm of concerns around security, data protection and more. Therefore, it’s essential to consider new technologies with these priorities in mind. With this in mind, here are seven technologies small businesses should possibly be considering, selecting and implementing in 2020:
Human Resources – One of the fastest growing areas of small business technology is human resource management software. Thanks to a variety of Silicon Valley-funded competitors, the HR software space is white-hot with competition and many providers are offering free cloud-based HR software for payroll, benefits administration, employee self-service and more. This revolution allows small businesses to access highly sophisticated solutions at little to no cost, whether accessed through their payroll provider, their insurance and benefits company, or directly from a cloud solution provider.
Employee Development – Alongside HR as an administrative and compliance function, the other emerging area of opportunity for small business is the field of employee training and development. Cloud systems enable emerging companies to bring state-of-the-art online learning modules, skill evaluations and certifications and more directly to each employee regardless of business size. In addition, such applications can empower small businesses to strengthen their competitive edge when pursuing talent.
Security & Data Protection – Effective security involves a number of essential applications and tools. Certainly, the traditional antivirus and firewall systems are a primary starting point. But in addition, mobile workers can and should utilize Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology to protect their data while on the road, and all enterprises that rely on employee logins to perform work should implement a password management and provisioning system so that logins are randomized, varied and protected at all times.
Customer Relationship Management – A core application for businesses of any size is customer relationship management (CRM) software, which focuses on maintaining and tracking the business relationships that drive your business. This technology can integrate with a myriad of core office tools to enable easy logging of phone calls, emails, documents, messages, meetings and more.
Sales & Marketing – We traditionally think of marketing as a function that is heavily technology-driven since digital marketing is a huge and fast-growing field. From website and blog management to email marketing, social media and more, it seems logical that marketing software applications would abound. Perhaps less well understood is that sales acceleration applications are almost just as common today. Sales acceleration focuses on providing tools, resources and processes that can reduce friction and increase the speed and efficiency of sales processes. In addition, and increasing number of these tools (both in sales acceleration and marketing automation) are priced to deliver an accessible solution for small business owners and teams.
Banking & Finance – Today’s banks are offering incredibly powerful technology on an increasingly distributed, mobile basis. Chances are, your bank’s mobile application for small business provides increasingly capable features that can streamline your banking experience dramatically. From digital PINs that make account access easier to mobile check deposits, these capabilities can truly empower small business owners in ways that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
Accounting & Operations – Of course, accounting software remains an essential area of focus for new applications and solutions. Increasingly, even companies like QuickBooks are migrating toward the cloud and mobile configurations that don’t improve the user experience, but actually change it quite dramatically. The huge advantage of this shift is nearly-instant integration with a full range of tools from payroll applications to bank account links, and even enabling in-app financing offers that can be presented directly, based upon data already in the application.
Clearly, these seven technologies provide a powerful and dynamic set of capabilities that are far beyond what small businesses could have ever accessed even just a matter of a few years ago. This is due in part to the amount of investment going into the space, but is equally attributable to the radical drop in the cost of computing power ushered in by the cloud revolution. This, in turn, empowers software firms to rapidly develop, deploy and deliver highly feature-rich and easily integrated applications that can be subscribed to with ease, even in the small business setting.
Make 2020 the year that you dedicate time to researching and selecting solutions across one or more of these areas so that you can achieve the efficiency and power that result from strengthening the technology backbone of your small business.