Over the past decade, technology has become a major part of the business world. Although advanced technology previously only belonged to large-scale businesses, that’s no longer the case. No matter what size the company, technology is an integral part of the day-to-day processes at any scale. In fact, a large percentage of small enterprises reported the use of at least one digital platform for sharing information with customers, advertising, communications and sales.
The use of big technology may seem daunting to smaller businesses; however, the implementation of tech like mobile applications, cloud computing, automation and AI-based chatbots can be a game changer. The use of these types of programs helps businesses to make better use of their precious time and operate in a more cost-effective, efficient manner.
One of the most important innovations to hit the small business scene is the transition of data storage, processing, and analysis to the cloud. Cloud computing decentralizes data and eliminates the need for an on-site data hub.
According to industry front-runner, Mark Hurd, “The cloud has changed the dynamic significantly … You don’t need an IT department anymore — that’s changed. With the cloud, the work is done for you.” This means that companies can instead focus those resources on tasks which will more directly benefit the organization, which is an important perk, especially for small businesses.
Using the cloud is a much safer alternative to an on-site storage system. Because artificial intelligence technologies are included in many cloud-based computing applications, the level of security is much higher, allowing for more secure data and higher customer satisfaction.
The amount of time, energy and resources it takes to complete tedious, everyday tasks can get a bit frustrating. However, through the use of business process automation (BPA), those tasks can be handled without the need for actual human labor. Automation instead employs AI and machine learning to complete the more mundane, data-driven responsibilities of a corporation.
Basic processes like forwarding and transferring data, sending notifications and reminders, extracting info, organizing data and processing multitudes of information can all be put into the hands of BPA. Doing this reduces the number of errors and allows the tasks to be completed at a much quicker pace than they could ever be done by humans. Not only does it help the business operate more smoothly and efficiently, but it also frees up those employees for more valuable work.
The need for a human at the other end of a chat tunnel has become obsolete. Businesses are now turning to computer programs that mimic real human interaction and do so to converse with customers. This means that businesses large and small can cut down on customer service representatives and instead employ this technology to do the work of multiple people.
Chatbots offer large-scale, 24/7 availability to customers and reach a much larger audience without increasing costs. They can be customized to the business, learn as they go and provide round-the-clock customer assistance, offering quick solutions and real-time support for nearly any question a customer may have.
Not only does this create a much more customer-friendly funnel for service, but chatbots can also become interactive platforms for marketing. Customers can chat via Facebook messenger and receive information about a company or even discounts and coupon codes at the click of a button.
In this day and age, nearly everyone owns a cell phone and uses mobile apps multiple times a day. No matter the size of the business, creating an app for customers to use can be a vital ingredient for success. For businesses like salons, exercise studios and restaurants, apps can be used to handle day-to-day tasks like scheduling and setting reminders.
Moreover, a mobile app creates more engagement at a faster rate by reducing the number of touchpoints and human interaction while creating a more personalized experience. These apps can remember favorite orders, settings and other user preferences. In this way, the apps can send and share information regarding sales and other offers to the audiences most likely to enjoy and use them.
By having a mobile app, organizations can create a high level of brand awareness. A consistent, recognizable design that lives on a customer’s cell phone allows companies to have constant exposure and subtle advertisement. Even when a consumer is not actively engaging with the app, the logo is still present and making an impression, however small.
Guest Post: About the Author
Maddie Davis is co-founder of Enlightened Digital and a tech-obsessed female from the Big Apple. She lives by building and redesigning websites, running marathons, and reading anything and everything on the NYT Best Sellers list.