Every day, it seems that new technology or a new device bursts on to the scene and is labeled as the must-have for business. And to a certain extent, some of the latest technologies are essential for small business owners. No longer can a small business succeed and thrive with a simple computer and a cell phone. To stay competitive in the modern marketplace, business owners need to understand and embrace new technology and capabilities that will help them stay connected and productive, as well as keep their data secure.
Wading through the seemingly endless array of options is enough to exhaust even the most tech-savvy business owner, though, so we’ve prepared a list of the three technologies that no business owner can afford to ignore.
If your business is using a service like Google to manage calendars, documents and email, than you’re already using the cloud – and might not even realize it. Cloud computing, in the simplest terms, is when multiple users share a network, pooling their resources for maximum efficiency at a minimum cost. In general, there are two types of clouds: public and private. Google, and services like it, are considered public clouds, as users join the service and log in through a central portal on the internet. Private clouds, on the other hand, are dedicated spaces built to the specifications of the client, and hosted either on or offsite. Cloud computing offers a level of flexibility and security that was previously unmatched by individual servers, and small businesses cannot overlook the cost benefits of using an established, monitored and maintained network to run their business.
Most business owners – in fact most people – these days have some type of cellular phone or mobile device. However, staying connected on the go has expanded far beyond the simple phone. Smartphones and tablets allow business owners to run their business even when they aren’t in the office. Tablets have advanced capabilities that allow busy business owners to create multimedia presentations, stay connected, manage their operations and more – all with a simple tap on the screen. Mobile devices also allow access to a wide array of applications that help business owners manage everything from their travel to their payroll, and most of them are available for free or at a low cost. Never before has it been so easy to stay organized, productive and connected.
Of course, not everything in today’s business environment happens in the cloud. Business people still need to use their computers for many functions, and never before has there been such a wide array of software options to help them get the job done efficiently – and securely. For example, the fact that different businesses work on different operating systems can create issues with file compatibility, but if you have the ParetoLogic EasyFileViewer software or something similar, all of your files are readable at the touch of a button. Other user-friendly software that helps small businesses includes: accounting and desktop publishing software, CRM software, project management and collaboration programs and of course blogging, web and social media tools. Not to mention, businesses need to look at software that will automatically backup and recover data, keep their computers running at top speed and of course, protect them from malicious software and security breaches. Taken together, today’s software options create a complete toolbox for small business owners to successfully manage and grow their businesses with minimal hassle.
It used to be that to open a business, you needed some office space, and maybe some equipment like a phone, fax, copier and a computer. Today’s multifunction technology and virtual services have all but eliminated the need for a traditional office. This saves small business owners money, but more importantly allows them to work from anywhere. Even those small businesses owners that are tied to a location – such as shop owners – can benefit from embracing these technologies, though, and are likely to see an increase in productivity and profitability.
About the Author: Wayne Murphy is a small business technology consultant. A former business systems sales representative, Wayne has built his career around helping businesses of all sizes access and use the technology they need for success.