Using the right technology in the right way can bring many benefits for small businesses looking to increase efficiency and flexibility, put themselves on a level footing with bigger rivals, and ultimately grow. Here’s a brief guide to how upgrading to different types of technology could help your organisation.
From PCs to laptops/tablets
PCs may be cheaper than their more portable counterparts, but the convenience of a laptop or tablet is tough to beat – especially if you need to do a lot of travelling as part of your job, or if you often have to take work home.
Laptops and tablets can also enhance the office environment if you have a few employees. They make meetings easier to run and more productive, as everyone will be able to access their own and shared files, and promote flexibility in general. A growing number of smartphones are almost as powerful as laptops, too, offering another avenue for businesses wanting to be more mobile.
One of the main downsides is the increased security risk that this type of technology carries. You’ll have no doubt read some of the numerous reports of laptops containing sensitive data being left on public transport – this is why it’s crucial to ensure staff are properly trained when it comes to using portable computers.
From meeting rooms to teleconferencing
Space is usually at a premium in any small business office, so consider doing away with the need to hold meetings at your premises – or someone else’s – by using a free teleconferencing service instead (click here for an example). This will save on travel costs and also make it much easier to liaise with contacts in faraway locations, as well as eliminating the cost of hiring external meeting rooms.
As the internet continues to become more and more important in working life, resulting in businesses having to deal with a growing number of international colleagues, suppliers and partners, teleconferencing can be something of a lifeline for small firms with a tight budget to stick to.
It’s also useful for businesses where a lot of employees operate remotely – research suggests nearly half of UK SMEs have staff who work from home.
From servers to the cloud
Cloud computing isn’t just a buzzword; it can save significant amounts of money for businesses currently reliant on huge, energy-hungry servers and/or large filing cabinets to store their files. The concept basically involves keeping documents in electronic form on a web-based storage service, as opposed to on a hard drive or in paper format.
There are several advantages to this as well as the cost aspect. It’s easier to retrieve files from the cloud than a filing cabinet, and if there’s a problem with your business’s network (e.g. if there’s a hardware failure), you’ll still have all your important information safely backed up in the cloud.
Research by Rackspace indicates that a fifth of SMEs favour cloud computing as they would not otherwise be able to afford the IT requirements needed to establish their organisations, while almost half said only needing to pay for the resources they actually must have has been a major benefit.
As you can see, the advantages of harnessing technology to grow your business are numerous; it’s well worth making at least one of these upgrades in the near future if you haven’t already.