Many smart and forward-thinking companies, particularly small and medium-size businesses (SMBs), are conducting a technology checkup at the beginning of the New Year as a means to increase their productivity and competitiveness in 2015.
They compare the technologies they currently use with those that are proving more successful in their industries. Then, they determine what technologies they need to fill the gap between what they have and what can boost their success.
We recommend this technology checkup for companies in every industry. Making this recommendation is one way we help our customers become more competitive.
Here are five tips to help you execute a small business technology checkup for the New Year.
Consider Upgrading Your Telephone System
Depending on the last time you upgraded your telephone system, it might be time to research the new features and capabilities that could benefit your business.
Unfortunately, many SMBs take their phone systems for granted and don’t think about changing them. But they often don’t know how many calls they miss each day or how much more business they could do if customers could manage more of their transactions via an IVR.
If your phone system is showing its age or your company is growing quickly, check with your service provider about the options now available to better meet your company’s needs. With some providers, phone systems can be upgraded with no capital cost for your company.
Develop a Website
Having a Web presence in today’s economy should be a given for every company, including SMBs. Yet, only about half of all SMBs have websites today. Many others have sites so poorly designed and maintained that they hinder the customers’ experience and inhibit the companies’ success.
So our second tip is to get a good website up and running now.
If doing so seems complicated and confusing, talk to your Internet service provider to learn how easily and inexpensively they can help you develop a website.
Although many SMBs have yet to install Wi-Fi, we believe this technology is essential for every company—from hair salons to car dealers—whose customers must spend time waiting.
Wi-Fi improves the customers’ experience. It makes them happier, more comfortable, and less likely to take their business elsewhere. So installing Wi-Fi can help differentiate you from competitors that think it’s too expensive or believe they can’t safely secure the business side of the system from the customer side.
Your Internet service provider can set up Wi-Fi in minutes, sometimes for free, and with no or a very small monthly charge.
Move to the Cloud
The cloud offers SMBs less-expensive usage of the applications traditionally run on computers and mobile devices. It also gives you access to other applications that, until now, were affordable only by large enterprises with seemingly unlimited operating funds and data storage facilities. Now, SMBs can run all these business-critical applications without the huge cost of buying them outright and without the expense of maintaining them or of building the capability to store all the data.
Every SMB should consider taking advantage of cloud-based services. Doing so can improve profits and productivity and can change your company’s ability to compete in the marketplace.
Increase Bandwidth Speed
The final tip we give all our business customers is to ensure their network speeds are fast enough.
As SMBs conduct more customer transactions online and move more of their traditional applications to the cloud, their need for greater bandwidth significantly increases. This need further intensifies as they implement the most advanced applications.
SMBs today can add the bandwidth they need much less expensively than at any time in the past. As speed has gone up, price has gone down—way down. Today, a company can buy bandwidth of 100 Megabits per second for about half the cost of 1 Megabit just five years ago.
There is no better time than now, as we move into the New Year, to give your business a technology checkup—starting with these five tips—to make sure you fill any technology gap that exists.