A flourishing series of tiny businesses rest on record to boost efficiency, control expenses, grow profitability and urge performance.
According to SMB Group’s 2015 SMB Routes to Market Study (PDF), 29 percent of all tiny businesses perspective record as assisting them to urge outcomes significantly.
Keeping adult with a quick gait of technological change can be formidable for a business owners already impeded with a many tasks compulsory to keep his or her association afloat day in and day out.
To help, Small Business Trends gathered this list of 9 record categories that tiny businesses need to incorporate as element applications in 2017.
They cranky a extended operation of functions, including mobile, selling automation, business comprehension and amicable media. Some paint newer technologies while others are some-more established. Together, they ring scarcely all a tiny business would need to benefit a rival dilemma in 2017 and beyond.
1. Massive Growth Makes Mobile a ‘Must-have’ Technology
Perhaps no record has gained larger adoption or grown some-more fast than mobile.
In 2016, some-more than 6 billion people worldwide used during slightest one mobile device, a series that is approaching to boost to scarcely 7 billion by 2020.
Also significant, SimilarWeb’s State of Mobile Web US 2015 news found that approximately 56 percent of consumer trade to a heading U.S. websites came from mobile devices.
That creates mobile a “must have” record in 2017, and businesses should incorporate a use in during slightest 4 ways: Website design, apps, remuneration and use of all-in-one devices.
With some-more and some-more people accessing a web around mobile, tiny businesses can no longer equivocate creation a mobile-friendly chronicle of their website permitted to consumers, for dual reasons:
(Note: Bing even offers a testing tool to assistance business owners establish either or not their website is mobile-friendly.)
In his Small Business Trends essay “Mobile App Strategies Boost Revenues for Small Business Owners,” Scott Shane, highbrow of entrepreneurial studies during Case Western Reserve University, wrote, “In an increasingly mobile world, carrying a precocious and well-tested mobile app turns out to be a rarely effective selling plan that gets results.”
In a past, mobile app expansion compulsory someone with specialized skills. Nowadays, platforms such as Microsoft PowerApps concede non-technical users to emanate apps easily, so there is no forgive to do though this vicious technology.
The use of mobile payments is on a rise, interjection to apps such as Microsoft Wallet, so it creates clarity to incorporate their use as an option. Also, companies like Microsoft partner Merchant Account Solutions have done mobile credit label readers straightforwardly permitted to tiny business users.
Another aspect of mobile record relocating brazen has to do with what constitutes a mobile device contra a desktop counterpart. That line is blurring interjection to inclination like a Microsoft Surface Pro 4, a 3-in-1 desktop, laptop and mobile tablet. It also comes with coop and hold shade capability, a new innovation.
2. Marketing Automation Increases Efficiency
Marketing automation program has done it easier for tiny businesses to control selling activities with larger efficiency, stealing a need to sinecure dedicated selling professionals.
Among a advantages are a ability to measure leads, shred messages and set adult processes that trigger specific responses formed on actions taken by a customer.
Also, automation program links seamlessly with CRM platforms, bringing selling and sales together, providing any with a 360-degree perspective of a patron or prospect.
CRM platforms such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 do many of a complicated lifting that formerly would have been rubbed regulating primer processes.
3. Businesses are Heading to a Cloud (and Not Coming Back)
The use of on-premise program and hardware is going a proceed of a albatross with a accessibility of cloud-based solutions such as Microsoft Office 365, and for good reason. Cloud-based solutions offer larger scalability, security, potency and coherence per entrance than their on-premise counterparts.
(Read a Small Business Trends essay “Thinking About Migrating Your Business to a Cloud? Consider This Checklist First” to learn some-more about because relocating to a cloud is a contingency for 2017.)
4. Collaboration Tools Bring Remote Workforce Together
The arise of a practical workforce means that collection that promote partnership will grow in popularity.
A 2015 consult conducted by Virgin Media Business likely that 60 percent of office-based workers would frequently work from home by 2022.
Platforms such as Microsoft Teams make partnership between manifold work groups some-more permitted and efficient. Teams establishes a virtual, chat-based workspace that allows group members to chat, call, save papers and combine in real-time, though restraint.
5. Chatbots Facilitate Customer Service, Other Uses
A poignant change is holding place in Internet communications due to a appearance of chatbots, resource programs that use synthetic comprehension to promote review with humans.
Companies vast and tiny are commencement to fasten on to a energy of chatbots for patron use and other uses, such as anticipating products, providing shipping notifications, pinpointing business locations and more.
Internet communications colonize Jeff Pulver announced in a blog post that 2017 will be a year of a chatbot and pronounced they would be a “new interface for business to business, business to consumer, and consumer to business communications.”
Technologies like Microsoft’s Bot Framework let companies build and bond bots to correlate with users not usually on Facebook Messenger though also on websites, text/SMS, Skype, Office 365 mail, Teams and other services.
6. Business Intelligence Brings Better Decision-making
Business comprehension (BI) used to be a solitary strech of craving corporations. However, a software-as-a-service series means that tiny businesses can now means to daub into a value trove of information permitted with a click of a rodent too.
The capabilities BI provides to track, store, routine and investigate information can lead to smarter decision-making per slicing expenses, anticipating new business expansion opportunities and improving altogether performance.
Platforms like Microsoft Sharepoint make garnering insights some-more affordable and make it easier to strap a energy of large information and predictive analytics.
7. Email Remains Tried-and-True Marketing Technology
Email is a tried-and-true internet selling record in use given a 1990s. Despite predictions to a contrary, it continues to find preference as a cost-effective promotional middle for tiny businesses. In fact, email selling was ranked as a best channel per lapse on investment — a trend that should not change in 2017.
What will change, however, is a approach. Marketers will do divided with “batch and blast” for some-more targeted messaging that takes into comment a singular needs of any customer.
Also, “mobile-first” will be a mantra in 2017 when it comes to conceptualizing email campaigns. With some-more people accessing email around mobile devices, messages have to pertain to a stipulations imposed by mobile inclination with their tiny screens. Marketing solutions from Microsoft Dynamics 365 can also assistance rise email selling campaigns to aim specific customers.
8. Live Chat Provides Real-time Customer Service
In 2017, successful companies will change their concentration divided from patron use to patron success — assisting business strech their goals as fast as possible. They will do so online, regulating a accumulation of digital technologies that embody text/SMS, amicable media, discuss bots and live help. Platforms like Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Service promote such omnichannel support.
One component, live help, has been in use for several years. The record stays a informed one. A widget resides in a lower-right-hand dilemma of a website with an representative on standby who can rivet with business in real-time during a impulse of need, to answer questions, yield superintendence and suggest products or resources tailored to a particular customer.
The formation of synthetic comprehension (AI), a prevalent trend, will make live assistance smarter, transforming patron support into a self-service mechanism. AI will work seamlessly with business and learn from them as a communication progresses. It can also support tellurian agents by giving them time to residence some-more formidable issues that AI alone can't solve.
9. Cyber Security Ranked Number One Challenge
As tiny business faith on record grows, a need to secure and strengthen supportive information becomes even some-more critical. The SMB Group investigate referenced above found that tiny businesses arrange cyber confidence as their series one challenge.
Meeting that plea requires a use of holistic, end-to-end, rules-based solutions. Microsoft builds such comprehensive security into all a cloud-based products, to strengthen a company’s endpoints better, detect threats faster and respond to confidence breaches quicker. It prevents temperament compromise, secures apps and information and safeguards infrastructure.
Print out this essential tiny business record checklist to keep a many vicious considerations top-of-mind:
Download it Now!
Business Technology Photo around Shutterstock
More in: Sponsored