Within a short span of time, social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) have completely changed the way small businesses promote and sell their products or services. The widely used cloud models enable enterprises to avail on-demand computing resources over the internet without setting up expensive IT infrastructure. At the same time, the small businesses can implement bring your own device (BYOD) policy to make employees productive without providing expensive devices and equipment. Small businesses can meet working capital needs in a faster and more flexible way through a number of technology-driven loans. Assessing the impact of technology on small businesses is very important. Broadly it is positive, but differs across regions and sectors.
Assessing the Impact of Technology on Small Businesses
Reducing Infrastructure Development and Maintenance Cost
Often small business owners have to spend a most of their capital on setting up an IT infrastructure. But most entrepreneurs lack adequate resources to build and maintain a robust IT infrastructure. The cloud platforms and cloud-based services enable entrepreneurs to set up, run, and expand businesses seamlessly without investing in expensive hardware, software, equipment and devices. Many small businesses even leverage cloud technologies to enable employees to access business data and work remotely.
Making Employees Productive
A large percentage of modern professionals want to work in a comfortable and flexible environment. Many employees even explore ways to maintain work-life balance through flexible working hours. The latest digital technologies enable small enterprises to make employees work in a distributed and personalized environment. The entrepreneurs can implement BYOD policy to allow employees to bring and use their own devices for professional purposes. At the same time, they can allow employees to stay connected with their teammates despite working from home. The enterprise can further improve employee productivity by automating various business processes and operations.
Driving Sales through Websites and Mobile Apps
The brick-and-mortar stores require entrepreneurs to incur additional capital expenditure. Also, the small business owners have to deploy additional resources to sell their products through conventional retail store or outlets. But an enterprise can easily drive its sales through eCommerce and mobile commerce without setting up and managing brick-and-mortar stores. Entrepreneurs can opt for custom eCommerce application development to sell products to customers from various regions. The frameworks and tools even make it easier for small business owners to set up and manage web stores and mobile stores.
Providing Prompt Customer Service and Support
Many enterprises already leverage latest digital technology to provide fast and personalized customer service. The technologies even help small enterprises to improve customer service without deploying additional customer support executives. For instance, the small enterprises can improve customer experience by sending transactional emails. In addition to being personalized emails, the transactional emails are further triggered automatically based on specific customer action. Likewise, the entrepreneurs can use chatbots to conduct conversation with website visitors in both textual and auditory methods based on artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
Availing Technology-Driven Loan Products
The financial technologies (fintech) enable lending institutions to offer a wide range of technology-driven loan products. Unlike conventional banks, the fintech companies process small business loan requests based on real-time data like monthly turnover. The small businesses can even avail some of these technology-driven loan products despite not meeting the eligibility criteria for conventional loans. Also, they can repay the technology-driven loans in a flexible and convenient way without adversely affect on their cash flow position.
Gaining Customer Insight
Latest technologies enable small businesses to collect and analyze large volumes of real-time customer data from various sources without investing additional funds. The entrepreneurs can simply use a robust analytics service to collect real-time customer data consistently. They can even analyze the data to understand the buying habits and preferences of individual customers. The customer insight gained through the analytics services and tools even help entrepreneurs to provide better customer service, boost digital marketing campaigns, drive online sales, and improve operational efficiency, while monitoring and adopting emerging industry trends.
On the whole, the latest digital technologies impact small businesses across various industries. Many entrepreneurs take advantage of cloud technologies to set up and scale businesses without building and maintaining robust infrastructure. Also, they use the latest technologies to make operations more efficient, improve customer experience, accelerate customer support and meet working capital needs. The emerging technologies even make it easier for entrepreneurs to set up, expand, and manage small businesses.