As a small business owner, you know you must strategically allocate your budget, especially if you’re using a working capital loan or merchant cash advance. Whether it’s hiring new workers, purchasing additional inventory or launching a marketing campaign, owners at small- to mid-sized operations have many competing interests to choose from when developing a budget.
Among the many options, investing in technology has become one of the primary priorities for many small businesses. Even the most computer-illiterate owners realize the need to boost tech spending so they can streamline workflows and ensure the safety of their data and networks. Instead of cobbling together a hodgepodge of equipment, it is wise to outline a strategy that aligns with your business goals and addresses your company’s needs.
Embracing technology and “the cloud”
For many businesses, there is industry-specific mobile project management software that can help companies streamline operations and ultimately gain a leg up on their competitors. No matter what particular niche you operate in, whether construction, custom manufacturing or even restoration, you can most likely find an enterprise management solution tailored to help you streamline operations and maximize efficiency.
Further, while it might sound like a buzzword that’s likely to be forgotten soon, the reality is that “the cloud” is here to stay. This means business owners, no the size of their operations, should have at least a passing knowledge of what this new technology is and how it’s likely to impact their companies today and in the years to come.
From customer relationship management platforms to enterprise resource planning systems, cloud-based solutions provide small business owners the opportunity to track leads through the sales process and improve workflows by eliminating bottlenecks in the supply chain or production.
Among the many benefits offered by implementing cloud-based systems include enhanced efficiency, agility, flexibility and provisioning. Although the majority of small businesses intend to deploy cloud-based solutions in the next year, there’s still a sizable gap in those who do not plan to implement it and those who currently do According to a survey conducted by data center technology company HyTrust, 34 percent of small businesses have no plans to increase adoption of cloud technology. As other companies continue to embrace new technological initiatives, those who don’t invest in this crucial aspect of modern-day business may find themselves falling behind their industry peers and competitors.
Leveraging big data
Big data is defined as extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions. Not only is big data a handy tool for small business owners, but it’s increasingly becoming a necessary one as well. A recent study from consultancy firm Aberdeen Group noted that 93 percent of all organizations surveyed experienced significant growth in data over the past year.
With the advent and proliferation of cloud-based computing technologies and Software-as-a-Service platforms, small businesses can now tap into the wealth of information available with big data. Previously, trying to extract useful and applicable trends and forecasts with this customer information would require dedicated teams of statisticians and analysts poring over spreadsheets for days. However, even the most math-averse owners can now crunch these numbers and pluck out key insights with ease.
Protecting your networks
According to the HyTrust survey, 54 percent of C-suite executives believe data breaches will be an obstacle this year. While many small business owners might have technology investments as a top priority, not enough are placing an emphasis on cybersecurity. Despite the fact that cyberattacks targeted small businesses 60 percent of the time in 2014, 51 percent of these companies did not allocate any money for cybersecurity mitigation measures, according to a survey by CSID, a provider of fraud detection technologies for businesses. The respondents stated that they did not think they were storing any valuable information, although the data painted a different picture.
One of the reasons hackers target small businesses is precisely because of this glaring lack of cybersecurity. With more than half of owners not taking the necessary steps to protect their valuable digital information such as customer credit card data, they remain sitting ducks for a data breach.
Although one main benefits of cloud computing and mobile management platforms is an added layer of cybersecurity protection, not all small businesses are utilizing these safety measures. Some companies still rely on in-house legacy software to store data and perform regular business functions.
Consider alternative funding
Investing in the technology necessary to remain competitive in an increasingly interconnected, cloud-based world of commerce can be a major financial burden for small businesses. Yet, without the right IT infrastructure in place, it can leave a small business floundering in a highly technical market.
With a small business loan or merchant cash advance, you can get the capital to invest in the technological solutions you need to succeed. Whether it’s for cybersecurity, cloud-based project management solutions or harvesting big data, utilizing alternative lending can provide that quick injection of funding necessary for building and implementing a solid small business technology strategy.
The verdict is clear: It simply isn’t enough to invest sufficient funding for their IT infrastructures, but they also need to implement a smart technology strategy moving forward. Small business owners should consider investing in new software and equipment with a clear idea of how to leverage the latest technology for greater ROI and growth.