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Small Business Insights

5 tech trends every business owner should know about

When you run a business, you need to carefully manage your time, money and resources. Technology can play a big role in helping you and your organization become more efficient, but it can be tough to stay current with all the latest advances. Here are five of the latest trends in technology that can help improve how you do business.

1. Software gets simpler

The days of buying and installing off-the-shelf software are quickly becoming a distant memory. Software has always been a great way to make business routines more efficient and now Web-based (or “cloud”) software is taking that to a whole new level.

Monthly subscriptions are a welcome change from the up-front fees that businesses have to pay for off-the-shelf software, while the hassles of maintenance and upgrading are also eliminated. As well, being able to pick and choose software based on your budget or project allows you to react more quickly to changing business needs.

The result is that even organizations with limited resources now have affordable, easy access to sophisticated business tools, and that’s becoming a big competitive advantage.

2. Going beyond the website

Building and launching a website used to be all it took to establish an online presence. Although it’s true that you still need a high-quality website, there are now a variety of ways that people learn about your business online, including blogs, social media and customer review sites. By taking advantage of email, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, even businesses that focus on specific local markets can raise their profile, reach more customers, and drive more traffic to their website to learn about their products and services.

In conjunction with maintaining a well-designed, easy-to-navigate site—especially one that is properly optimized for search engines—social media tools and customer review sites are offering small businesses a more comprehensive but still low-cost approach to online marketing.

3. Anywhere, anytime communication

Business moves too fast now for you to be in the office all the time, and sometimes employees can’t even all be in the same place. The good news is that the latest technologies now make it possible for you and your employees to communicate with each other and with customers from anywhere.

For example, your phone number can now be programmed to automatically ring your office, mobile or even home depending on the time of day and your location, so you’ll never miss another important call. Some companies have also started integrating their phone and computer systems so that a complete customer profile appears onscreen when they call, giving employees access to all the information they need. And collaborative tools like video calling or group project software means that employees can work from home or the road, giving them more control over their work schedule while increasing productivity.

4. Everyone is now in the data business

No matter what size your company is, you can’t afford to lose the information that is critical for your business. But managing data can be complex and time-consuming, and that’s why small businesses are now taking advantage of online backup services. These services securely store your valuable data on a remote server and automatically manage your backups on a regular schedule. Online backup systems—sometimes called cloud backup services—can also provide an opportunity to access your company data from remote locations, making it easier to work outside the office.

5. Websites become mobile friendly

Smartphones and other mobile devices are quickly growing in popularity, and that means more customers have access to your website in their pocket or purse. If your site isn’t compatible with the smaller screens, however, you might be losing valuable business. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to modify your existing website so that it can be viewed on desktops and smartphone screens alike. It’s also possible to track the different ways customers access your website, which could give you insights into what kind of information is most important for them.

Find out more

The pace of change only seems to be accelerating. If you would like to make sense of the latest trends, Bell can help. Talk to a representative about how technology can make a difference in your business.

Small Business Insights - June 2011
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