The Australian technology space of SMEs is almost unrecognisable when I started working with Managed Service Providers focused on helping SMEs thrive and compete against other global counterparts.
Back when you heard the crackling of an internet dial-up when barely anyone had a proper website – and expensive, clunky, rigid file servers were slowing businesses down and don’t even mention trying to remote access, it was a nightmare.
The trouble back then and why I was mostly focused on SMEs Infrastructures was that technological innovations hadn’t quite reached a point where SMBs could benefit from it yet. Prices were really high and quality with returns was very low.
Now, fast forward to 2018. The landscape and outlook are incredibly different, technologies have gone through a complex stage and now it’s coming back down to simplicity but with an added value of quality, speed and investment returns. Technological innovation and the democratisation of key business tools means that now even the smallest of businesses have access to first-grade technology and if they don’t, companies like TECH PATROL offer incredibly cheap packages that allow Small Businesses to leverage knowledge, test solutions, get technical consulting for a fraction of the usual costs of doing themselves.
For example, small businesses have the ability to build professional-looking websites, Apply Google Adwords Displays for a targeted reach of people searching for what they’re selling, Social Media allows interaction and storytelling so that you can build true relationships that correlate to brand loyalty and not only does that translate to constant bottom line growth but allows for competition against bigger organisations that can afford TV ads, Billboards, Radio Ads, Campaign Rollouts…etc. where now you can compete for a fraction of the cost with a light footprint exploiting cloud technology.
SaaS, SaaS, SaaS, what a term. In my eyes, the evolution of cloud technology and SaaS (Software as a Service) has been the biggest game-changer for SMEs. Tools like Dropbox Business, with its file sync and share capabilities and real-time document collaboration software, enable small businesses to work fluidly and flexible, and collaborate with internal and external stakeholders from anywhere, any time, on any device and in REAL-TIME… crazy, right?. And there are still developments on applications such as SLACK that look to develop those abilities and collaborative natures even further! You now have the ability to collaborate with a supplier from Europe, a manufacturer in Asia, or a colleague who’s on a business trip to North America I real-time.
This means that SMBs can be more global too, such the ease at which they can collaborate with international stakeholders. The developments of technology across the business sector has not only allowed for small to medium enterprises to be global but has also coined the term “Born Global” and a survey commisioned by the Export Council of Australia said that nearly 88 per cent of Australian exporters are small-medium enterprises. Cloud technology has definitely played its part in this movement.
Now it’s not just the tools that have changed the landscape, it’s also the ability for all these tools to integrate with one another that has also increased productivity for SMEs by enabling their teams to work more flexibly and efficiently. To this point, born-on-the-cloud tech vendors have been very smart about meeting the buying preferences of SMEs – such as the ability to mix and match best-of-breed tools rather than being locked into one product suite that may not give you all that is needed to overcome business challenges. Many of these tools, such as SLACK, Dropbox Business, Office 365, Xero, Hubspot, Salesforce, Trello, Mailchimp all integrate with each other so that users can work freely and seamlessly. For example, our customers love to integrate office 365 with HubSpot for customer management, this allows for everything to be done from one platform and clients, pipeline, prospects and collaborations can be done.
It is incredibly important that you as a business owner/leader continue to invest in technology. When I started in this space a very long time ago, what was impossible then is now the possible to be achieved, so SMEs really need to make the most of what’s at their disposal and if your finding that you’re not seeing the return, it could be that you’re either not using the right tools for your business or you have not implemented the current tool correctly.
Adopting cloud tech is a good start. Operating on a light footprint, being more collaborative and global in your approach, and enabling your team to work fluidly without interruption will have huge benefits for your business both in the short and long term. This is something I tell my clients on a daily basis and I really don’t see that changing. If you’re having issues with your cloud tech or you would like to implement and migrate your business to the cloud, contact me.