A Definitive 2019 Technology Checklist For SMBs

Adopting some of the latest SMB technology can make your employees and business processes more efficient. When you improve your business’s efficiency, you can expect to see your productivity numbers rise quickly.

Unfortunately, the business sector’s productivity has been falling for more than a decade. Knowing which types of SMB technology to use can protect you from that troubling fact.

Start by exploring the following six tools so you can decide whether they fit your business’s needs.

“While some think that banning technology can increase focus and productivity, the truth is that with some discipline and effort, the same tech can be used successfully to make most tasks simpler and faster.” – Forbes

Improve your IT infrastructure to reduce lag

As computers, servers and other pieces of equipment age, they become less efficient. Eventually, some of them will become so outdated that they don’t have enough processing power to run the latest applications and operating systems.

Typically, you can expect desktop computers to last for 3 to 5 years. After that, you probably need to upgrade to newer models.

Since your network likely includes computers, routers, hubs, wireless access points and other items, it makes sense to check your network’s overall health. If it can’t keep up with your needs, then you should replace aging devices that slow your business’s productivity.

Use SMB technology to automate common tasks

Your employees probably waste a lot of time performing daily, menial tasks. Allocate those tasks to software that can perform them automatically. Some everyday jobs that you can automate include:

  • Backing up data to the cloud
  • Posting content to social media accounts
  • Creating templates for email, contracts and other documents
  • Updating software
  • Reporting sales, leads and other information to managers

Automation works well for many tasks, but you can take it too far. Find a balance that helps your company become more productive without sacrificing customer service and other important jobs.

“More offices are adopting artificial intelligence to streamline processes and increase employee productivity.” – TechRepublic

Make it easier for employees to collaborate with each other

SMB technology that makes collaboration easier can save your employees time while giving them more opportunities to share their ideas with their co-workers. Cloud-based apps tend to offer the best collaboration features because they can track comments and your employees can access projects remotely.

Some of the most popular collaboration apps include:

  • Teams
  • Slack
  • Flowdock
  • Trello
  • Quip

If those options don’t match your company’s needs, then you can have a software engineer build an app with the features you want most.

“Collaboration tools have to be in the flow of how people actually work. If they are above flow and require people to do too much context switching, adoption will suffer.” – CIO

Adopt chatbot technology to handle customer service demands

Customers ask a lot of questions. In the past, companies were forced to rely on customer service representatives to answer those questions. Today, SMB technology makes it possible for you to answer basic questions without hiring a new employee.

Today’s chatbots can perform a lot of tasks, such as:

  • Answering common questions
  • Reporting problems to your IT department
  • Scheduling reservations
  • Filling order requests

Adopt chatbot technology so you can handle customer requests without wasting your employees’ time.

Encourage employees to use apps for focusing

Technology can make your business more productive, but it can also distract employees and make them less efficient. It’s difficult to concentrate on a project when your smartphone keeps alerting you to incoming calls, text messages, and emails. The prominence of social media also doesn’t make it easier to focus on difficult tasks. Something is always there to distract you.

Luckily, several apps can help you and your employees focus. Pomodoro apps like TomatoTimer break the day into increments of work and breaks. It’s much easier to stay focused on work when you know that you only have to concentrate for 25 minutes before you get a short, 5-minute break.

You can also use tools that block access to certain websites. You can use apps and browser extensions to block sites, but your employees still have their smartphones on hand. Make it harder for them to distract themselves on irrelevant websites by creating a blacklist at the network level. That way, they can’t use the office network to visit sites like Facebook and Instagram.

“Focus is an invaluable trait. It helps you stay on task and get work done at a rapid rate.” – Harvard Business Review

Reduce travel time and expenses with video conferences

Business travel costs a lot of money and forces some of the best people on your team to spend excessive time on the road. You can eliminate many of the costs and inefficiencies with video conferencing technology.

Prepping your office for video conferencing will require an investment. You have to purchase cameras, microphones and displays just to use the most basic video conferencing features. You also need a network and internet connection that can handle high-definition streaming.

Video conferencing isn’t the right solution for every business, but it can help many SMBs meet their goals while saving money and boosting productivity. Before you invest in this SMB technology, have an expert review your needs and develop a plan that’s right for you.

“When remote attendees aren’t on video, the degree of multitasking and disengagement is very high. If you fix this one simple issue every participant will have to be part of the discussion.” – Forbes

It makes sense for most SMBs to adopt new technologies that help them become more productive. For the most part, you don’t even have to spend much money on these technologies. As long as you have a robust, efficient IT infrastructure, you can start using these tools to make your SMB more competitive.