More than 80 percent of small businesses responding to a recent j2 Global survey said they are ready to retire their old systems in favor of new technology. Look at your company’s equipment and processes for those areas taking up too much of your time and money. Consider the following technology as a way to put new life, and efficiency, back into your business:
Small Business in the Cloud
Entrepreneur magazine sees the migration of small business practices to the cloud as a natural growth step. Once used primarily as a place to store information, the cloud now offers a variety of services, such as:
- data backup and recovery
- testing and production platforms
- networking services
- disaster recovery
Some companies offer entire office environments in the cloud. Intermedia’s Office in the Cloud provides file storage, syncing and collaboration, office tools, voice and email services. All of these services are through secure connections and can be accessed by all desktop, laptop and mobile devices.
Back Office Processing Revamped
Many vendors have moved their standard business software offerings to the cloud, enabling customers to get rid of cumbersome and expensive desktop-based software, licenses and support fees. CRM, sales force management, marketing tools, accounting and payroll are all available in the cloud. For example, Intuit’s invoice application is now cloud-based, and like most products in the cloud, it includes mobile interfaces.
These cloud-based tools save you money and are accessible whenever you need them and wherever you can get a network connection. This makes your sales force on the road more productive or lets you look up current customer data quickly before an offsite meeting. It also opens up more outsourcing opportunities since it’s easy to give a remote worker access to these tools.
Updated Cash Registers
Point-of-sale (POS) solutions have altered the way payments are taken. Entire POS systems now run on tablet computers. Small card readers plug into tablets or smartphones and let you swipe credit cards. The smallest of retailers can now take a variety of forms of payments with these tools. Many of them interface with cloud-based accounting systems making reconciliation and reporting easier.
Phone, Netbook and Tablet in One
Fox Business predicts phablets will be adopted by small businesses in 2014. These phone/tablet devices have been on the market for a few years, but have not been well received in the UK and US. They are popular in countries where people want to save money by buying this all-in-one device versus a separate smartphone and tablet.
The larger screens are easier to work on and browse the Internet. With smartphones becoming even larger, phablets may have already filled the niche of people who want to do real work on their mobile phones.
A Cloud on Your Desk
Businesses are concerned about storing data in the cloud until a high-level of safety and security is proven. But they still want the ease of getting to it as if it were in the cloud. Western Digital’s My Cloud is a network drive that sits in your office but can be accessed by you and your staff over the network. Up to 4GB can be stored on the drive fully encrypted. Software lets you control who has access to certain areas. You can use any laptop or mobile device to get to the secured data. With devices such as this and cloud data storage, you’ll have access to all of your business information when working away from the office.