Technology is trending, there’s no doubt about that, but if you are a decision maker at a small business, technology solutions aren’t typically developed for your business in mind. As a result, it can often be difficult for the SMB to get tools that are scalable enough to make sense for them, while also getting powerful options that will actually work to improve some part of the business. This month, we’ll take a look at three trending technologies that small businesses are starting to use regularly.
Automation Concepts & Technologies, Inc. Blog
Consider something for a moment: aside from their size and the resources at their disposal, what makes a small to medium-sized business so different from a large, enterprise-sized one? If you really consider it, there isn’t all that much. This is why many SMBs have turned to managed services… to receive IT support comparable to what the large businesses get.
As small businesses have to do more with less, they’ve been increasingly looking to technology to fill the gaps. The problem is that many small businesses feel like the big tech companies don’t understand their needs. If you feel like the technology options you have at your disposal don’t necessarily fit your business’ needs, consider that these robust solutions have all the functionality that you need to manage your own business processes. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the enterprise technology SMBs are using to move their businesses forward and some of the considerations you may need to make to leverage a software solution that doesn’t seem like it fits.
In today’s competitive business environment, you need all the help you can get. One of the biggest advantages you can achieve for your business is to take advantage of a trusted and reliable managed IT provider that can give your organization advice on how to navigate the murky waters of the technology world.
For any business to be successful, its inner workings need to be able to work together seamlessly, each with a defined role and purpose. While we usually stick to talking about how to make your IT more collaborative, we’re devoting this week’s tip to ensuring that your employees are also capable of effective collaboration while using these solutions.
No matter how big a business is, it has to leverage at least some IT in order to be efficient. Unfortunately, some organizations are reluctant to implement new technology if they don’t seem to need it immediately. What these businesses don’t know is that the reason they typically don’t implement new solutions--saving money--is in direct conflict with what the solutions are designed to do in the first place.
How much value does your company get from its technological assets? This might seem like a simple question, but it doesn’t have a simple answer. You can implement the latest and greatest solutions, but you don’t necessarily gain value from them, or as much as similar organizations in your field. With businesses aiming to cut costs and secure a profitable future, how can you make sure that IT is providing value to your organization?
The reason why you want to make sure IT is being profitable for your business is because you run the risk of it being overlooked otherwise. After all, if it’s not being valuable or making any money for your business, why bother investing in it? To answer these questions, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have any services that aren’t being utilized properly? How much waste is accruing due to software solutions that aren’t being used?
- How often do you replace hardware? If it’s not being replaced periodically, you run the risk of hardware failure or other issues.
- How much do you pay for technology that isn’t offering a return on investment? For example, it’s one thing to pay for services that save time, but another thing entirely to pay for a convenience that isn’t necessary or producing enough value.
Basically, it all starts with asking yourself how your technology is affecting your bottom line. What is that new software solution really doing for your business? Is it allowing you to free up funds that would be better spent elsewhere? A great example of this is automation; more businesses than ever before are trying to take advantage of automation, which lets them free up key staff and personal from more menial and time-consuming tasks.
Too many businesses still take advantage of break-fix solutions; wasting money on IT maintenance. The break-fix model of IT support might appear to offer a semblance of value in the moment, as you’re receiving service that’s needed as soon as possible. Yet, the issue here lies in the fact that you’re waiting until technology has already broken down before you do anything about it. This leads to wasted capital and resources, including downtime, hardware replacements, and so much more--all because issues weren’t solved properly before they grew out of hand.
One of the best ways to gain value from your business’ technological investments is to implement managed IT services from Automation Concepts & Technologies, Inc.. What this does is essentially eliminate the costs of running an IT department, additional salaries of technicians, and the general upkeep costs of your organization’s infrastructure. It replaces these costs with a single monthly payment. You then receive services as per your service level agreement. We can perform a variety of services for your business, including:
- Remote monitoring and management
- Backup and disaster recovery
- Network security
- Email management
- And more!
To learn more about IT management, call us today at (508) 622-5100
Miscommunication is something that plagues even the best, most organized organizations. Small businesses might be more tight-knit than your traditional enterprise, but humans are prone to miscommunication, and can be a major problem. We can help your business improve the way that it communicates and collaborates, and it all starts by considering how you can eliminate miscommunication in your office.
Here are some of the best ways that you can foster communication in your organization, in no order.
Consider an Intranet
Those who might not know much about technology will be somewhat hesitant to adopt it. This can make implementing a unified infrastructure tricky, as you might encounter users who have no clue what they are doing. After all, they’re going to need to access important files on a company network or accessing your cloud solution for sharing information or software. You can use an intranet to connect these employees to important resources that they might need on a daily basis. This acts like a central hub where all of your business' assets can be found in a moment’s notice. This allows you to minimize the risk of confusion or miscommunication.
Use Common Communication Solutions
If you don’t have a unified communications solution already put in place, it’s extraordinarily proficient at keeping threats out of your network and infrastructure. Unified communications consists of a unified email server, a phone system where each employee has their own individual extension, and instant messaging for quick and easy communication in a moment’s notice. These solutions can be hosted either on-premise or in the cloud--in fact, Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is the preferred method of telephone communication. By providing your employees with several mediums to reach out to each other, you are giving your team the means to be as productive as possible with their time.
Make Important Information Easy to Find
If you’re hoping that you can find information about a solution your business uses online, perhaps there is an easier way to accomplish this same goal. Your company can benefit from implementing some sort of documentation system where frequently asked question are stored and compiled. This can help your business accumulate knowledge and cut down on time spent asking repetitive questions, as well as eliminate a portion of training for more self-driven lessons. It essentially provides your employees with the autonomy they might crave.
What are your business' specific communication needs? Automation Concepts & Technologies, Inc. can help you meet them. To learn more, reach out to us at (508) 622-5100.
December 14th is the last day that our government representatives can vote whether or not to continue the Internet’s protection under the net neutrality rules established in 2015. Without these rules in place, your data can be analyzed by your Internet service provider, and they are free to act on that knowledge and manipulate your Internet in support of their own interests.
In order for small businesses to remain competitive in this economy, there has to be the opportunity for them to participate as a viable competitor. This is the goal of a United States bill that has passed through the House of Representatives and is moving forward to be voted on by the Senate.
Vince Lombardi, one of the most successful head coaches in NFL history, once said “If you are five minutes early, you are already ten minutes late.” Although it wasn’t its intended use, this quotation can easily apply to technology. The tech industry is constantly changing, improving, and innovating. Adapting to changes is something all businesses must do to thrive, small and medium businesses included.
The small business is under siege. Many small business owners do what they can to compete, but it seems like there is no solution for their revenue woes, as larger organizations are able to attract a larger part of the market share. This has been the case for some time, but there are market forces at work today that make it even more difficult for businesses to contend with competitors that have more resources.
Many smaller businesses look to a niche market for sustainability; and, while this seems like a decent strategy on the surface, if demand falls in that niche, you could quickly be faced with some very disheartening questions. Other businesses decide to forgo this strategy and continue as intended, relying on their people’s expertise or experience to guide them through rough patches in business. This is a great strategy until your larger competitors pilfer your organization’s talent with offers of more pay and better benefits.
The truth is that there are no easy answers on how to sustain a small business through turbulent times. For this reason, one avenue almost any small business can venture down is to make improvements in technological resources to try and mitigate the gaps in financial and productivity deficits. Technology, if leveraged properly, can build additional efficiency to your offering, making business move faster. The problem for the modern small business owner or manager is ascertaining what technology investments make the most sense for you.
Where Do Mobile Devices Fit?
Mobile has been a popular discussion point in every technology-of-the-future discussion for the past ten or twelve years. This means that the future is now for mobile and while there are a lot of things to love about mobile devices, for small businesses they may do more harm than good. For the small business that has already covered their bases with a thorough mobile device management platform and a BYOD strategy, leveraging the positive attributes out of mobile will be simpler than those who are starting from scratch. Of course, it’s easier to build a bridge if you’ve already procured the materials you need, but without some idea of what you’ll use it for, what’s the point?
For a small business, mobile devices can have some positive effects on employee engagement, awareness, and for cultivating the relationships you depend on. On the other hand, mobile devices can be a hopeless waste of time, which just happens to be one of the most critical resources to manage for the small business owner. With well over 90% of a smartphone’s utility wrapped up in distractions, it seems like that is an endless amount of monitoring and management for a very little return. As long as your organization has clear rules in place to manage data dissemination, access, and communication, mobile will continue to work for your business. But, if you are just getting on the mobile bandwagon, be sure to create your mobile policies before relying on mobile as a way to build more revenue.
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is what mobile devices were a few years ago: a wild new frontier filled to the brim with entrepreneurial ideas. Where there are a pool of entrepreneurs there is capital, so expect the Internet of Things to continue to come on fast and produce experiences like nothing you have ever seen before. For the small business owner, it will be difficult to pinpoint which solutions will be of benefit to your company. Since many of these devices are going to be marketed to “build efficiency” in some kind of task, it will be on you to determine which products will work for your organization.
There has been some technologies that have already been developed that are sure to work for many organizations. Innovations that allow people to remotely control locks, thermostats, and security infrastructure can go a long way towards protecting a small business. Another technology that has gained traction already is the mobile point-of-sale. With credit card readers that you can take anywhere, it's easy for anyone to get paid. Technologies like this already work for small businesses and it will be interesting to see how many of the 20 billion devices that will be attached to the Internet by 2020 can be useful for your business.
Luckily, nobody who has successfully run a small business thinks it’s going to be easy. So while no one knows what the next big thing will be, by using the technology that is available proficiently, your business may be able to navigate through the perils of entrepreneurship and find success. For more information about small business technologies and how to use them to make your business more efficient, contact the professional IT technicians at Automation Concepts & Technologies, Inc. at (508) 622-5100 today.
There are benefits to being a small business. Being small provides all sorts of flexibility, including the ability to make decisions quickly and without having to go through so many hoops. Plus, you have a smaller workforce, which makes for a more personal experience. However, this also leads to a rather unfortunate side-effect of believing that you’re immune to being hacked.
Technology is an imperative part of your business’s operations, but sometimes things don’t go quite as planned. It can fail when you least expect it to, and you’d really hate to pay your IT provider for an on-site visit. What can you do when you’re in a technology bind and need to keep operations moving forward?
In order for your business to be competitive, you need every aspect of your company operating at maximum efficiency. If just one component of your business isn’t functioning properly, then you’ve lost the competitive edge. This principle applies especially to the network of a small-to-medium-sized business.
The CEO baton at Microsoft has been passed from Steve Ballmer to Satya Nadella, making Nadella the third CEO in Microsoft's well-publicized history. You may not think that this will have an impact on your business, but considering how intertwined Microsoft is with the the global economy, you may be surprised to learn that this move will affect your company.
Expenses from running a business can add up quickly. We want to help by sharing six easy things you can do that will save you money and improve your workplace. Even though these two goals may seem diametrically opposed, we have found that they can work together in a synchronized harmony!
You may have realized that marketing and advertising tactics are shifting toward reaching mobile leads. Even superstar companies like Google and Facebook are delegating more marketing dollars to their mobile marketing budgets after a discovery that nearly one-fifth of Google's revenue comes from mobile searching. Here are three ways your company can start up your mobile marketing initiative.
For most small business owners, your average week includes several moments where you look at your expense sheet and search for ways to cut costs and improve the profitability, and thus, the sustainability of your company. Around the holidays, when business picks up for everyone, some small businesses run into problems that stunt their net profitability. The inability to spend the money that larger companies can, will often result in handcuffing a business' ability to compete.
When you mention the term 'disaster recovery,' most people think about the big ground-shattering events like earthquakes, fires, floods, tropical storms, etc. While these natural events are certainly disasters and devastating in their own right, smaller things can constitute as a disaster for your business, and they aren't seasonal.