Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Get a Grasp on Technology

For many small business owners, getting a handle on the right technology for their specific business seems a complicated task that requires time, research and careful analysis. While true, there are two no-brainer technologies all small business owners should embrace—smartphones loaded with relevant apps, and security and storage software, noted Brian Moran, founder and CEO of Brian Moran and Associates.
 
Let’s start with apps. The sheer volume available for small businesses is enough to make your head spin; apps for marketing needs, scheduling, bookkeeping, communication, and every other business-related necessity. “We have mobile banking, mobile payments, mobile video conferencing, and mobile you-name-it. Yet, according to a number of telecom industry experts, most small businesses utilize less than 30 percent of their smartphones’ capabilities.”

The key is to streamline what’s most helpful for you and your business. And the first step is to get to know your phone—you might be surprised by the functionality and what you already have available at your fingertips. After phone mastery, take a cautious approach to apps.

  • Think about your needs and the needs of your business. What could you work on when you’re out of the office or on the sales floor and can’t fire up your laptop? How might employees work more efficiently if given the power of mobile accessibility?
  • Based on these needs, determine what apps would enable a more efficient process or organized system. Not sure? Ask other business owners in and out of your industry, locally and online (ask an industry group on LinkedIn or people you connect with on other social media).
  • Remember, the objective is to use the most appropriate apps for your business and employees, not collecting the most apps.

According to Moran, who is also co-author of Lessons from the Great Recession, in addition to gaining efficiency with the right apps, it’s essential to protect customer and business data from hackers. “You must have a minimum level of security on your computers; although a smarter approach would be to keep that data in the cloud. That way, if there’s a natural or manmade disaster that affects your business, you won’t lose all the data on your computers. Additionally, the cloud company you choose will most likely provide data security.”

As for storage and security, if you decide to go the software route, you should take considerable time to research the product and the company providing it. But for all the reasons previously mentioned, Moran recommends opting for cloud-based solutions. “The biggest piece of advice I can give to business owners about their technology is to maintain it like they would their cars or homes. Check your computers, smartphones and other devices regularly to ensure they’re running as efficiently as possible. And make sure your employees are trained in the software that runs your business. Don’t let an untrained employee accidentally wreak havoc because they didn’t know what they were doing.”


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