Guest Blog Post By: Michael Deane

The future of small business is inextricably tied to modern digital technology. Thanks to modern tech, sole proprietors, startups and other small firms can go toe-to-toe with companies many times their size, and sometimes they can even come out ahead.

What technology offers to these companies is the ability to save on time, manpower, and resources, while maintaining high levels of productivity. The fact that most of these technologies can be used free of charge or for a small fee makes them even more attractive. After all, nothing beats free in terms of ROI.

With all that being said, the adoption rate of new technologies among small businesses is not as high as it could be. Many companies are still reluctant to start using these technologies for one reason or another. The famous adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is still the dominant attitude among small business owners.

But as old business models become obsolete, the transition towards modern technology is quickly becoming a necessity.

So if you want to future-proof your small business to give it a fighting chance, you need to start learning about modern technology. And we’re here to help you do just that. Below you will find an overview of some of the major ways technology has been shaping the world of small business.

virtual assistant business

1 Software Automation

As we’ve mentioned, small businesses have embraced technology because it allows them to work more efficiently without investing in additional resources. And software-based automation represents the next step in this direction. With the help of software automation tools small business can eliminate a lot of tedious busywork from their workflows. One example would be email marketing automation. By using tools such as ActiveCampaign or Zapier, small businesses can create email marketing campaigns that practically run themselves. Technology enables you to automate business processes which leads to increased productivity.

Lead scoring is another area where automation is showing positive results. App such as Leadformly can help you segment leads and send follow-up content without the need to look into each subscriber profile individually.

2 Cloud Based Sofware

Cloud-based software (also known under the acronym SaaS, for software-as-a-service) is the latest trend in software deployment, and one that is scheduled to grow further in the coming years. Cloud-based applications are not installed directly on your computer, but are instead hosted on powerful dedicated servers (the so-called cloud). Running resource-intensive business applications on the cloud is a more affordable solution for small businesses than buying expensive equipment and running on-site applications. There is also the matter of security. It might seem counter-intuitive, but storing your business data on the cloud is actually a safer alternative than storing it locally, the reason being that cloud servers have better security than your local computer network.

3. Customer Service Chatbots

Quality customer service is one of the costs of doing business in 2019. Without adequate care, customers won’t be inclined to do business with you. Providing customer service requires you to expand your staff with customer service agents, which is not something every firm can afford. Thankfully, there now exists a technological solution for the issue, namely chatbots.

Chatbots are automated conversation systems that can perform a variety of customer service tasks. They can answer frequently asked questions, direct callers to customer service representatives, provide product suggestions, place orders and reservations, and more. However, their two greatest advantages are their ability to scale (they can interact with multiple customers at once), and their cost (they can be built for free, or acquired for a small fee).

4 AI and Big Data

One of the most transformative inventions in the past few decades was that of artificial intelligence. By utilizing the concept of a neural network, an AI system can parse large data-sets (so-called ‘Big Data’) to produce conclusions and make predictions, without being explicitly programmed what to do each step of the way. This ability can be employed to solve a variety of tasks that would be too difficult, or too tedious to perform manually.

Predictably, AI has found a lot of uses in the world of small business. From email marketing optimization to screening candidates or generating reports in natural language, AI has enabled small businesses to compete with much bigger rivals without needing to expand their IT infrastructure.

5 Cybersecurity

Technology has empowered business in a variety of ways, but they weren’t the only ones to benefit from it. Malicious third parties now have access to the same kind of technology, which allows them to execute sophisticated cyber-attacks. Unfortunately, small businesses are frequently ill-equipped to handle such attacks. For this reason, cyber-security is quickly becoming one of the top priorities in the world of small business.

To combat this growing threat, employers are enrolling staff in cyber-security seminars, developing cyber-security protocols, and implementing technological countermeasures, including AI-based defense. And with the passing of the GDPR, these practices are starting to become codified into strict laws.

6 The Future of Business

Small businesses face many challenges in the digital age, from the way they approach customers, to how they handle standard business operations, to the precautions they take to protect themselves from tech-based crime. And only by grasping the extent that technology has changed the world can they rise to these challenges. It is therefore imperative to educate yourself on the impact of technology on business, so you can make good strategic decisions on how to prepare your company for the future.

More About The Author:

Michael is a small business consultant who also runs a small business blog; Qeedle.

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