Updated: Mar 30, 2020
Is technology your friend or your foe? It can be either, depending upon how much planning goes into keeping technology current for your business needs. Issues with technology in small business is very common. Small business owners are no strangers to challenges in keeping productivity and efficiency running smoothly daily. There is no doubt that technological challenges can play a major role in overall time management. Are you curious if the challenges you face are common for all small businesses, or specific to yours? Here are 7 technology hurdles that are common among all small businesses today.
1. Handling security risks
2. Protecting data
3. Disaster recovery challenges
4. Understanding strategic planning
5. Staying current with new technologies
6. Communicating with your customer, interact the way they want when they want
7. Regulatory issues
1) Handling Security Risks
Cyber-attacks can happen to virtually any company, large or small. Research has shown that 60% of small businesses go out of business within 6 months of a cyber-attack. Unfortunately, if you aren’t prepared beforehand it can be a disaster to your business and its reputation. Be sure you have solid protection in place. A great choice is using a cloud security option. It insures you are always current with anti-virus software and uses the latest technology to offer maximum protection. Your workforce is very mobile, your firewall and security software need to be effective for all employees, both in or out of your office.
2) Protecting Data
Your customers trust you with their information and rely on you to protect it. The same privacy laws might not apply to every small business, but it’s important to be aware of the regulations for data protection in your industry– should you ever experience a data breach. All laws aside, your customers put a lot of faith in you and you want to maintain their trust by keeping their personal information secure. ProTip: Ask a trusted technology advisor for their recommendation on the most up-to-date data protection laws and be sure you’re abiding by them to avoid legal repercussions in the case of a data breach.
3) Disaster Recovery Preparations
When there is an unfortunate event like a natural disaster that is out of your control, you’ll be glad you had a recovery plan in place. A great way to start preparing for unknown circumstances is by backing up all data to many different sources such as laptops, servers, tablets, and phones. By doing this, you’ll get a better idea of what your disaster recovery time will look like so you can inform your customers on what to expect. The cloud offers great data backup and recovery options for very affordable monthly fees. Clients will appreciate that you’ve planned in case of an emergency.
4) Understanding the Value of Strategic Planning
No one wants to face an unexpected operations issue without any clue as to how to overcome it. Strategic planning is crucial to the success of small businesses and technological challenges. Take the time with your team to put a plan in place that can be used in the long-term to help improve your overall processes. If a disaster does occur, you will be able to handle it calmly and purposefully, getting your business back online as soon as possible.
5) Offering Excellent Customer Service:
Clients will pay a premium for great customer service and run to a competitor if they get poor customer service (read our customer service blog). But today we have a challenge of generational routing. Different customers want to interact with you in different ways. Baby boomers still may prefer a phone call, Generation X likes email, Millennials are all about texting, and Generation Z uses social media. It is critical to be able to handle all these “channels” of communication. Cloud technology today makes it very affordable for a small business to turn their telephone system into an omni channel communications system. It allows for all your customers and prospects to reach out the way they want, when they want. Yet it makes it easy for you to handle this varied traffic as easy as a phone call, all communications is routed to who needs it automatically. Technology can do what no one person could accomplish. Big company capabilities with a minimal staff, and with no upfront cost, just monthly usage charges for the software.
6) Keeping current with regulatory issues
Government agencies issue thousands of rules every year. Congress enacts hundreds of laws annually. New regulations sometimes replace existing ones and sometimes they add more layers of compliance complexity. If your business is required to follow these regulations it can seem overwhelming keeping up with all the requirements. Penalties for not meeting industry compliance requirements can be steep. For example, thousands of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines are issued in workplaces across the country, in amounts of a few hundred dollars to more than $1 million, depending on the severity and nature of the violation. Given the extensive number of rules, your business needs to comply with Staying up to date on compliance regulations is crucial. Knowing the new requirements also can be challenging. Here are a few suggested methods for staying on top of the changing requirements and keeping your company compliant. Implement policy management software or governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) software that helps automate policy-related processes. Software can help centralize your company’s compliance information, making it easier to track. Software vendors also will update you on relevant regulatory changes.
7) Staying Current with New Technologies
In this fast-paced technological world it’s important to stay abreast of the latest advances in technology. Small businesses are changing the way they operate for quicker and more efficient delivery of services to their customers. The cloud makes powerful tools very affordable. Digital Transformation and IoT (Internet of Things) are no longer buzz words, they are useful business tools. The terms “IoT” and “digital transformation” often are used interchangeably. They shouldn’t be. Digital transformation is a business strategy aimed at digitizing manual or analog business tools and practices. IoT is a powerful means to that end. Digital transformation is not an IT project. It’s an organizational initiative, and it won’t occur by simply employing some IoT technologies on the edge. It requires business processes to adapt and evolve. Organizational structure may need to be shifted, and new people and skills will be needed. The culture of the company may need to adapt to the shift in how it serves both customers and employees in new ways. While IoT tools might be deployed in the span of months by the IT organization, digital transformation can take years and will require many company departments to collaborate and work together to solve problems in new ways.
The important thing is to have a shared vision within your company and a plan to bring it to life. But that alone doesn’t ensure success. Here are a couple of key principals to consider that can help keep your plans on track:
Think Big. Envision the desired outcomes and chart out a plan to get there even if you don’t have all of the answers yet.
Act Small. Tackle that plan piece by piece, focusing on incremental strategic investments that can generate a fast, measurable return to keep you on track. Turn your proof-of-concept experiments into proof-of-value projects with defined, measurable success criteria.
Move Fast. It’s better for your company to transform itself from within before external forces can disrupt it from the outside.
Technology can certainly be your friend. It lets a small amount of manpower accomplish many diverse tasks very efficiently. The challenge is for small businesses to keep current on what technology can do. We are seeing an age of digital transformation and the IoT (Internet of Things) become a reality. The wonderful thing is that cloud computing lets small business affordably take advantage of these capabilities at a very affordable price.
Request a quote or give us call at 713.910.1401 to speak with a Technology Advisor to explore available solutions and begin leveraging new technologies today that will improve your team communications and decrease your communication costs.