Guest Author: Beth Kotz
Small business owners are pros at doing “more” with “less.” When you’re at the helm of your own enterprise, efficiency is key, and every dollar spent must yield new opportunities.
Innovations in technology can help create gains in productivity that close the gap between new, upstart organizations and established corporations. There are hundreds of efficiency-boosting tools for you to choose from in your ongoing quest to grow profits. Read this list with a critical eye and consider what might be a fit for your company:
The Automation Advantage
Certain tasks can be handed off to automated systems so that you don't have to pay dedicated personnel to do them. Running your sales department through a system like Salesforce will free your staff members from many reporting and paperwork requirements, enabling them to devote their efforts to following up on sales opportunities. Salesforce comes with powerful CRM tools, which make managing customer relationships a breeze whether you have a dozen clients or thousands of them.
SERPWoo delivers detailed search result info without you having to type in each query yourself, which is a real boon when trying to beat your competitors in the search rankings and improve your website.
Implementing successful marketing campaigns can take up a lot of your time and energy. Email automation software, like that from Infusionsoft, lets you rapidly segment your users into different groups, allowing you to easily send personalized messages to enhance user engagement. Social media marketing is one of the best ways to connect with your audience, but everyone knows that it can be difficult to manage presences on multiple sites. Enter $99 Social, which will post unique content to your social media accounts on a consistent, regular basis.
Enter the “Internet of Things (IoT)”
The miniaturization of Internet-enabled platforms means that they can now interact with their environments in ways that would have been impossible before. Chip-maker Intel forecasts that there will be 200 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020. Smart thermostats and lighting products offer the possibility of cutting your office electric bill without compromising on comfort or safety.
Meanwhile, RFID tags allow for streamlined and efficient inventory and warehouse management. If you manage a brick-and-mortar retail space, you can harness the power of your customers' smartphones to gather valuable data about their shopping behaviors before and after they make a purchase. Remember to keep all your IoT infrastructure secure by regularly updating to the latest firmware and patches.
Engage Remote Workers
Working within teams, even when all members aren't physically in the same location, is possible with high-tech productivity software. Remote login solutions permit everyone to communicate and share documents no matter where in the world they happen to be.
Cloud accounting software, like Xero, eliminates the need to keep digital records tied to specific pieces of hardware. Google Drive does the same for your documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Project management tools like Asana simplify the process and working together rather than at cross purposes.
Virtual office spaces are another way to enhance your remote team’s productivity. AdvantEdge Workspaces provide state-of-the-art business communication tools and videoconferencing support, in addition to on-site assistance. Whether you’re the CEO of a new start up or you’re seeking an innovative –and inexpensive – way to expand, this flexible office space model is an opportunity to consider.
Use AI Innovations
The field of artificial intelligence has been put to exciting new purposes in the past few years. Digital assistants, like Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon's Alexa, possess the ability to process natural language commands. They're ready to assist you with all your task scheduling, information gathering, and communication functions.
Sophisticated chatbots that can hold simple conversations with customers exist by the dozen, and they're pretty inexpensive. If you'd rather build a custom bot, IBM's Watson Virtual Agent allows you to do so for a reasonable monthly subscription fee.
By deploying an assortment of carefully chosen efficiency tools, you can make a big difference in the way your organization operates without putting too large a dent in your bank account. More than ever before, growing companies need to be flexible about both how and where they’re able to operate.
By considering a connected, modern workspace alongside automated technology, there are some exciting avenues for growth. Innovations that didn't exist a decade ago or were available only to the largest firms are now waiting for you to take advantage of them!
Beth Kotz is a freelance writer and contributor for numerous home, technology, and personal finance blogs. She graduated with BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, IL, where she continues to live and work. Connect with Beth on Twitter!