Technology has changed how companies operate forever.
For example, the ability to digest data, identify and market to new customers, share information and process transactions is more efficient than ever. And consumers want to seamlessly interact with a company whenever or wherever they are. For small- to mid-sized businesses, leveraging technology is vital for both driving growth and managing efficiency.
When it comes to technology, the trends are constantly evolving. The implementation of the latest products or services can mean the difference between success and failure. In fact, according to a recent IDC study, 40 percent of fast-growing SMBs rate technology innovation among their top priorities.
Following are some of the major technology trends driving consumer behavior and impacting the success of SMBs:
The future is now when it comes to companies deploying artificial intelligence (AI).
AI lets you turn seemingly random data into actual insight about the way customers are associating with your business. While it might seem that only big enterprises with deep cash reserves can implement AI, that’s far from the case. In fact, if your business is even using a Chatbot on your website, you’re using AI.
There are a number of ways your business can run more efficiently through the use of AI – from staffing to customer service to market research and compliance. The benefit is streamlining operations, targeted marketing and helping address customer (both internal and external) needs quickly and efficiently.
Blockchain is a public register in which transactions between two users belonging to the same network are stored in a secure, verifiable, and permanent way.
The data relating to the exchanges are saved inside cryptographic blocks, connected in a hierarchical manner to each other. This creates an endless chain of data blocks — hence the name Blockchain — that allows you to trace and verify all the transactions you have ever made.
Think of it as a distributed ledger that serves so many purposes. Whether it’s for logistics, records sharing, inventory management or any of the countless other potential ways to deploy this technology, Blockchain can mean big things for small businesses.
From offering upgraded security and authentication in agreements and supply chains to building real peer-to-peer business networks across retail, energy, and more, Blockchain will have a high influence on the way business is administered.
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or any of the numerous social media platforms, this technology cost-effectively connects businesses to their customers.
It’s these connections that create customer loyalty, build brand awareness and, ultimately, grow a business.
According to BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor, 77.6 percent of the 1,000 SMBs surveyed in 2016 said social media is their “top marketing channel.” This number was up more than 3 percent from the year before.
It’s not just that more SMBs are using social media, they’re increasing their spending in these channels too. More than half (56.2 percent) of those surveyed by Infusionsoft in 2017 said that they expect to increase their social media budgets.
Daily trips to the bank are becoming a thing of the past.
Part of this is a function of all the new payment methods businesses accept and part of this is a result of changes in the ways banks do business. Banks are deploying mobile banking apps designed specifically for small businesses, making it easier to manage finances and deposit checks from anywhere. This saves business owners time and money.
And combined with the fact that Millennials want to bank wherever and whenever they want – digital banking is going to replace the traditional brick-and-mortar banking solution with a technological first-mindset. It will grow to more than 2 billion users by 2020.
Implementing these types of technologies can be critical to the success of a business, but some require capital investment. Of course for SMBs, getting a loan for what could be a significant outlay can be a challenge at best. But there are other choices. Business owners are increasingly turning to alternative finance options like receivables finance. With this option, it’s not a loan, it simply amounts due to you for invoices you have submitted to your customers paid sooner. Rather than having to wait months to get paid, it could be as fast as a day. In the beverage industry, there has been a 138% increase over a 9-year span in the number of days corporates are taking to pay their bills. Most businesses cannot survive with those extended payment terms. With receivables finance, you can immediately deploy cash toward these technology options that will help drive your business further.
And, access to these solutions is increasingly omnipresent, as many business platforms used for vendor management and e-invoicing – to name a few – are expanding their solutions to make it easier for you to obtain financing.
While no one knows what the next big trend will be that could take your business to new heights, what is known is that you’ll need the cash to implement these changes. To get that cash, receivables finance is a quick, efficient way to secure what’s already your money. You can then deploy it and set your business on a new trajectory.