Small business tech is evolving at a rapid pace. Whether it’s a local coffee shop offering cryptocurrency as a payment option or a boutique ad agency that utilizes in-depth analytics to achieve superior results for clients, new solutions are helping tens of thousands of small companies boost efficiency and drive revenue.
If you run a business, it’s essential to take advantage of the raft of new marketing, sales, and management tools available to you. For the most part, they’re inexpensive, intuitive, and easy to implement. In this post, you’ll learn about six technologies that can transform your business.
Sound good? Let’s dive in.
1. Chatbots and AI
Artificial intelligence refers to computer capabilities that mirror human intelligence. The AI industry is growing at a breathtaking rate. One study conducted by Tractica predicts that revenue from AI-as-a-service (marketed significantly to small businesses) will grow from “$10.1 billion in 2018 to $126.0 billion by 2025”. AI is poised to take the business world by storm.
One area where small businesses are already seeing results is in relation to chatbots. Customers seeking help or information can interact with a chatbot and ask questions. The experience is often identical to talking to a real human being.
AI has the potential to help small businesses streamline a range of tasks, from customer service to everyday management. Savvy business owners should keep their ears to the ground and learn about new solutions as they come out.
2. Advanced Analytics
Understanding data has always been problematic for small businesses. Companies with an online presence, for example, usually have large amounts of data about customer behavior. But drawing meaningful, actionable insights from this data often proves difficult, especially without the input of a dedicated data scientist.
What’s more, SMBs are also eager to take advantage of data collected and sold by third-party companies but lack the necessary tools and expertise to do so.
That’s where advanced analytics platforms come in. By providing a suite of accessible tools, they empower small businesses to use data – whether it relates to customer activity or internal processes. Furthermore, these platforms often automate many aspects of the data-interpretation process, allowing users to leverage insights without the need for high levels of expertise.
3. Marketing Automation Solutions
Automation is a widespread and general trend that’s worth taking note of in all its forms. But marketing automation is one area that stands out as being particularly transformative for small businesses.
“Automation” is a big word. Many small business owners falsely assume that automating marketing processes requires a high level of development knowledge. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
B2B marketing automation platforms like Marketo, Salesforce, and Hubspot enable business owners and managers to quickly and easily streamline a whole host of tasks. These include email marketing, lead scoring, ad strategy, account-based marketing, appointment booking, and more.
4. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
The term CRM is ubiquitous. Most SMBs will probably have been told they need one.
A customer relationship management platform is a unified solution for running all customer-related tasks. These tasks include storing records, tracking payments, automating appointments and outreach, segmentation, and more.
A company’s CRM usually sits at the center of its tech stack, acting as a general management dashboard. Most popular CRMs also offer marketing, analytics, and project management tools, along with a host of integrations for third-party apps.
CRMs have traditionally skewed towards enterprise-level solutions. Increasingly, however, developers are releasing tools that cater specifically to the needs of small and medium-sized businesses. Read the full definition of what CRM stands for here.
5. Freelance Marketplaces
Freelance marketplaces might seem like an unusual entry on a list of new technologies. But they’re shaping the small and medium-sized business landscape in a number of important ways.
The way people work is changing. Crucially, more and more skilled individuals are opting for freelance careers that aren’t tied to a specific employer.
This trend presents both a problem and an opportunity for small businesses. On the one hand, it makes it more difficult to find and hold onto talent. On the other, it provides a chance to access a highly-specialized, large workforce without the drawbacks of looking after long-term employees.
Sites like Upwork, Freelance.com, Guru, and others, act as middlemen. These platforms provide a range of tools to small businesses, enabling them to leverage talent quickly and safely. Companies that remain flexible and implement processes to take advantage of these opportunities gain a strong competitive advantage.
6. Collaboration and Project Management Tools
Project management software is an essential part of every small business’s tech stack. It’s more the norm than the exception for SMBs to utilize platforms like Basecamp, Asana, or Trello, which are among the best-known SaaS brands on the web.
While project management platforms have been around for many years, it’s the way they’re evolving that is notable from a tech standpoint. These apps are about more than just collaboration, goal-setting, and scheduling. Features now often include automation, employee analytics, and an array of app integrations for extended functionality. These features provide tangible and important benefits to small businesses.
New technology can often seem out of reach for small business owners and managers. It’s easy to assume that transitioning to a new tech stack, or implementing an untried solution, will require large amounts of expertise, time, and money.
But this is very rarely the case. Most SaaS solutions are designed to be intuitive and cost-effective. What’s more, taking advantage of this new technology now will pay dividends far into the future.