Powerful small business technology tools have become much more accessible in recent years. With the rise of cloud software or SaaS (Software as a Service), small businesses are taking advantage of technology solutions that had previously been adopted by mostly large corporate and enterprise businesses.
So what technologies will high growth businesses be using in 2016 to gain and maintain their competitive advantage? Let’s find out.
Is There a Link Between Technology and Small Business Success?
According to small business market researcher company, SMB Group, small businesses who believe technology can improve business outcomes are more likely to forecast revenue growth.
These progressive small businesses spend 29% more on technology, are 55% more likely to have fully integrated primary business applications (such as finance, CRM and HR) and are 86% more likely to use analytics.
Industry Insights: Leveraging Small Business Technology
A recent survey by SmartCompany asked 328 small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in Australia about the technology they’re currently using, and plan to use over the coming years.
The 2016 SmartCompany SME Directions Survey took a look beyond the everyday technologies (internet, mobile and social) to see the kinds of technology solutions, software and systems small businesses are using, and looking to use more.
What’s the Most Popular Software Used by Small Businesses?
59% of small businesses surveyed said they’re using accounting software. Although not surprising this is the number one type of small business technology being used, it’s still a little surprising that more than 40% of businesses are not using an accounting software solution. However, only 46% are using customer relationship management (CRM) systems. And only a quarter (25%) are using sales management software.
What About Plans to Invest in New Technology?
Most businesses surveyed have plans to upgrade or invest in new technology.
When asked what timeframe businesses had in mind for upgrading their existing technology, 26% said this was already in progress.
Just under a quarter (22%) expected to invest in new technology by the end of 2016. Another 23% said they expect to complete new software purchases in the next two years.
It seems that small businesses may not already have the technology solutions in place needed to boost their competitive advantage, but are certainly planning for it in the near future.
What Technologies Are Small Businesses Planning to Invest In?
In regards to what kind of systems they intend to invest in, the standout option was a CRM system. This is not surprising, considering the insights you can start to gain and business trends you can relate back to sales data, using CRM. For more information on the benefits of a CRM, have a read of our article CRM – The Eureka Moment.
A third of respondents (33%) said they intended to buy CRM software – supporting the survey finding that more businesses are looking to build additional value from existing clients over launching new products or finding new customers.
What Other Technologies Are Being Used?
The modern business environment has certainly changed, with smartphone technology being a major influencer. 87% of businesses said they use smartphones as an everyday part of doing business.
According to small business market researcher company, SMB Group, 85% of small businesses now see mobile apps as complementing traditional business systems. 70% believe that mobile apps will even replace some of their current business applications. Almost half (48%) confirm that their employees are doing significantly more work on mobile devices than ever before.
This is supported by the rise in use of cloud based small business ERP technologies which allow people to access business critical data, reports and high-end functions via their mobile device. Small businesses are no longer restricted to their desks and computers, now being able to run their business via their smartphone or tablet.
This flexibility is reflected in the patterns of computer usage of survey respondents. The business trends point to laptops now being more popular than desktops: 75% use laptops vs 63% desktop computers. More than half (53%) use tablets such as iPads to run their business as well.
What Are the Main Barriers to Tech Take Up?
So why aren’t more small businesses using the best technologies available? The asked business owners about the barriers to entry: what was stopping them from investing in new systems and technologies?
The majority of businesses (53%) cited “ease of use” as a top concern for introducing new software. JCurve CEO, Stephen Canning, spoke with HR Magazine recently about the introduction of new systems and change management, which can significantly help take up of systems by users, in this article on
What’s the Biggest Change in Small Business Technology?
It’s not mobile, that’s now assumed. The biggest change in terms of opportunity for small businesses is its easier access to powerful software: cloud based business software.
With small business ERP solutions, businesses no longer need to invest in heavy upfront capital expenditure, investing in physical computer equipment and IT professionals to run and maintain that equipment. For more information, have a read of our article 10 Benefits of Cloud Computing for Small Business.
In addition, cloud-based systems can generally be rolled out much faster that on-premise options, cutting down the go-live time and the disruption time. This also means businesses can achieve ROI on the software much faster.
The SMB Group’s 2015 SMB Routes to Market Study found that almost one-third of small businesses who are looking to purchase accounting and ERP solutions say they’re planning on a cloud offering.
Small businesses now have access to more powerful technology solutions than ever before. To remain competitive, businesses should consider staying ahead of technology trends, be willing to invest in new technology, and choose flexible small business technologies that are able to adapt and grow with their business.
If you’d like to find out more about how technology solutions and small business ERP can help your business not only stay competitive, but also grow faster, get in touch to start a conversation.