Businesses these days depend a lot on technology, from office productivity to security systems, computer networks to phone systems, and so much more. Technology gives small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) a fighting chance to compete against big businesses. That’s why it’s important for SMBs to always be updated with the latest technologies to maintain their competitive edge.
To keep up with technology, you need to be systematic and efficient. There is a cost-efficient and easy-to-remember process to increase your awareness of technology for your business. When you get this five-step process down pat, you’ll be able to keep up with technology in no time and with minimal costs.
#1 Consider your business needs
Determine what’s relevant to your business. Knowing what you need is the first step to identifying and choosing the right technology.
For example, if your business is sales-driven, one of the most important tools that your team needs is an efficient communication system that will allow them to connect with clients and colleagues with ease. List down all the items they’ll need for communication, from hardware like office phone systems, cell phones, tablets, and laptops to software like communication apps.
Then, enumerate the tasks that require such technology. Do your employees need to make conference calls? Are video chats necessary for their daily tasks? Do they need access to the same files online so they can collaborate in real-time?
While different businesses have different needs, most SMBs should focus on the following technologies:
- Accounting software –There are numerous applications that can easily consolidate finances, generate reports, and help your accounting staff be more efficient.
- Business continuity – All businesses should have disaster recovery plans and data backup solutions.
- Collaboration platforms – This is a category of business software that allows employees to share information, solve problems, and collaborate on tasks to further boost productivity.
- Cybersecurity – There are many products and services that can protect your network and your data from security threats such as malware.
- Hardware – Workstations, servers, and even handheld devices should be chosen based on your company’s needs.
#2 Take inventory of what you already have
It’s smart to maximize the IT resources you already have as well as the existing skills and knowledge of your staff.
Are most of you already using Windows OS or Apple’s MacOS? Are your staff using Android or iOS mobile devices? When choosing a software product for your team, you’ll need one that most, if not all, of your employees can use with ease. Make sure you follow announcements on updates and changes from the companies whose software you’re using, or read the latest news about them from online resources such as TechRadar and CNET.
It’s also a good idea to offer technology training to members of your staff who may be unfamiliar with the technology you choose to use.
#3 Invest in research
You can attend tech conferences, seminars, and trade shows along with your tech-savvy employees to find out more about the latest tech innovations and how they may be relevant to your business.
You can also ask other business leaders about their IT infrastructure, so you can gain insight on and exposure to the different technologies and strategies that are gaining ground in your industry.
#4 Rank the resources
All that research should give you a better idea of what your business needs. This will help narrow down your choices. It’s now time to prioritize potential resources based on your business needs.
#5 Use your resources and new technology
Nothing beats an actual trial run. Block off time (preferably during a slow day for your business) to actually take your new technology for a spin. If you don’t have an in-house IT person or team, get early-adopters from every department to test the new device or application, and have them submit their recommendation after the trial run.
If you need to be constantly updated with technology that impacts your business, partner with Online Computers. We’ll help you stay on top of your technology needs. We offer intelligent IT solutions and managed IT services to businesses in and around Hanover, Morristown, and Madison, NJ. Interested? Contact us today.
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