Growing companies face constant pressure to do more with less and to improve IT capabilities to keep pace with competitors. With every dollar crucial, IT and business decision makers can't afford any of these missteps.
Since many SMB decision makers are engaged in running their business, they are often unaware of IT products and solutions that can help them better accomplish their goals.
To prepare for the anticipated economic turnaround, many SMBs are looking at strategic projects such as upgrading their technology. In fact, The NPD Group's recent SMB Technology report found that 77 percent of SMBs plan to spend more, or about the same, on new PCs in 2010 compared to what they spent in 2009. A majority of those businesses - 70 percent - cited the need to maintain and upgrade technology as the main reason for purchasing. While replacing PCs and other technology can appear cost-prohibitive, the opposite is in fact true: SMBs can enjoy tremendous cost and technology benefits by upgrading to new desktops or laptops.
Other research shows that focused technology implementation creates tangible improvements in customer satisfaction, revenue and profits, and staff morale, which leads to lower employee turnover rates and higher productivity. IT is not just an administrative tool, it is actually a strategic weapon that can help companies survive, excel and thrive.
4. "I Don't Need The Latest Technology."
Buzz. Bebo. Twitter. Bing. These are the latest tools SMBs can use to generate business and communicate directly with their customers. Social media is important for everyone in business, but a recent CRN study showed that 40 percent of SMBs are not online, which is shocking considering the proliferation of e-business. The same study reported that more than 80 percent of SMBs with an online presence said their websites were essential to their companies' success.
While SMBs do not have a reputation for being trailblazers in adopting cutting-edge technology, social media tools are a proven means of direct customer communication. SMB owners should never stop networking, regardless of the economic condition. Paying particularly close attention to customers when their wallets are thin will help build loyalty, which will reap rewards when the economy recovers. There are many ways to do this, including building a website, joining a Facebook or LinkedIn group - or creating your own - and participating in online discussion forums. Engage with customers on a regular basis and long-term relationships will result.
5. "Mobility Solutions Just Give My Employees An Excuse Not To Come In The Office."
Savvy SMBs with a mobile strategy look at mobility as a way to extend their employees' productivity well beyond the regular 9-5 workday, not permission to start working from the beach. Combined with the benefit of a flexible work schedule, employees will benefit and ultimately contribute to your company's competitive edge.
The benefits of mobility are manifold, according to a recent report conducted by Kelton Research. Their survey found nearly one in four (23 percent) employees is working off-site at least once a week, and about 12 percent of them virtually. In addition, 63 percent of managers and 71 percent of IT managers agree that remote access services make their staff more productive.
Mobile solutions, such as cloud computing and notebooks with embedded broadband, are two of the many tools that SMBs should consider adopting as part of their mobile strategy. Another aspect to consider for those SMBs that offer products or services is the power of local search delivered on mobile phones. In 2009, vendors who implemented local search solutions increased their revenue by 50 to 100 percent.
Mobile technology offers SMBs the opportunity to dramatically increase productivity and better respond to business opportunities and customer demands. SMBs can reap the benefits of employees' access to mobile email and virtual storage for improved collaboration and communication and the ability to virtually office anywhere.
InformationWeek Elite 100Our data shows these innovators using digital technology in two key areas: providing better products and cutting costs. Almost half of them expect to introduce a new IT-led product this year, and 46% are using technology to make business processes more efficient.
The UC Infrastructure TrapWorries about subpar networks tanking unified communications programs could be valid: Thirty-one percent of respondents have rolled capabilities out to less than 10% of users vs. 21% delivering UC to 76% or more. Is low uptake a result of strained infrastructures delivering poor performance?
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.