Cutting-edge technology was once only the purview of big companies with vast resources. But whilst small business budgeting tips may still be required, the current wave of digital transformation is opening up opportunities that can transform small business management.
New and accessible technologies are helping companies of all sizes to streamline their operations, reduce manual work, improve security, and make data-driven decisions.
Read on for a look at the emerging technologies that are revolutionising the landscape for small businesses.
It’s the word we’re hearing everywhere right now as organisations look to reduce their reliance on manual labour, minimise paperwork, decrease the risk of human error, and reallocate resources more effectively.
Across industries and departments, businesses are identifying opportunities for automation, focusing primarily on high-frequency, repetitive, rule-based tasks. Taking these away from employees frees up their time significantly, allowing them to spend their working hours on their core function and higher value objectives.
Software solutions are enabling the automation of everything from invoice processing to CICD DevOps for faster app deployment. Even customer service can be enhanced with the use of chatbots. Human involvement still remains essential, but these technologies can be hugely beneficial when the right balance is found between humans and machines.
The threat of cyberattacks is not limited to large organisations. Companies of all sizes must take measures to defend themselves.
What’s more, stringent and regularly updated laws apply to all organisations and they have a legal duty to protect their customers’ data. The consequences of failing to do so are significant, including heavy fines and a damaged reputation.
To compound the issue, cyberattacks are becoming ever more sophisticated and security software that once was sufficient is quickly becoming obsolete. Among the many developments that the advent of AI has produced are cybersecurity systems with greatly strengthened response capabilities. Able to analyse huge amounts of data at lightning speed, AI-powered cybersecurity solutions can quickly identify malicious activities.
As we face the reality that AI will be used for nefarious purposes as well as good, cybersecurity will become an essential tool to protect your small business. If you’re unsure about where to get started with AI, there are many resources out there, such as this Make AI skills guide.
There is much benefit for small businesses in committing to regular data analysis. Data is, and will remain, the most valuable asset an organisation can obtain going forward.
Sources of digital information are now abundant—website behaviour, social media, transactions, and more can all help you build a picture of customers’ needs and pain points.
Small businesses can analyse this to discover how customers feel about their products and services, whether their marketing campaigns are working or not, and how engaging their content is. AI can further assist with this process through functions like chatbots and automated data analysis.
All of this information affords organisations invaluable insights and empowers them to make data-driven decisions.
Marketing efforts become more targeted and successful, operations become streamlined, and better products and services are provided to customers. Data analytics helps businesses to grow and succeed.
Cloud computing is great for small businesses as it gives them a fairer chance of competing with bigger rivals. One of the biggest benefits cloud computing yields for small businesses is scalability. When it’s possible to adjust computing resources on demand, big upfront costs for IT infrastructure are eliminated.
From looking for a website alternative for small businesses to using freelance workers, cost-effective measures are important for companies of a lesser size. Cloud computing is also a financially efficient choice. You can save money on the upkeep of on-site hardware and employees are able to access everything they need to do from wherever they work.
Cloud computing also offers another advantage, as the opportunities it affords for remote working means small businesses can recruit from a wider talent pool.
Finding the right candidates for the job can be tricky, especially when bigger companies can promise a higher financial incentive. But when you’re not restricted by geography, you have a far better chance of filling vacancies.
First and foremost, blockchain is associated with cryptocurrency, but its capabilities reach far beyond that. Because of its decentralised nature—meaning it is not controlled by a single person or entity—blockchain offers various opportunities for small businesses.
If a small business wanted to simplify the complexity of app delivery, it might harness a system like Platform.sh for operational maturity. But if they wanted to improve their supply chain management, blockchain is a good place to start. A blockchain network offers a decentralised ledger, providing end-to-end visibility over every transaction, origin, authenticity, and movement of goods.
This transparency allows for greater trust between partners, suppliers, and customers. It also encourages the ethical sourcing of goods and protects against counterfeit products.
What’s more, by virtue of its decentralised nature, blockchain is exceedingly resistant to any attempts to tamper with data, meaning it’s an exceptionally secure choice for small businesses.
Growing and maintaining a small business is in part about making the most of every opportunity. This may be as simple as using celebration days to market your small business or as complex as harnessing new technologies to create innovative customer experiences.
In the next few years, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are going to completely overhaul the customer experience. This will change how small businesses interact with their customers and enhance the experience of shopping for new products.
Imagine, for example, you were buying a new sofa. You will be able to use your phone (or other device) to view how the sofa will look in your home, from different positions and angles. Small businesses that utilise this technology will gain an edge, as customers look to have the guesswork and risk taken out of buying a new product.
Digital technologies are transforming the way we work at an ever-increasing speed. Embracing these changes and new opportunities is vital in order to keep up with your competitors. The examples we listed above are the key transformation opportunities that can help your small business going forward.
However, the world is constantly evolving. Stay informed, be flexible, and remain open to new ideas. Digital transformation isn’t just for big companies, you can make it work for your small business too.