Small businesses are under pressure to reduce operating costs, increase productivity, and improve customer experiences. Although few solutions solve all your woes, tech-enabled employees can give you a headstart.
Moreover, giving staff access to digital technologies enhances their experience at work resulting in higher employee engagement and retention. Explore how providing your team with suitable digital technologies can help small business owners future-proof their companies and stand out from the competition.
Small Businesses Benefit From Digital Advancement
Equipping your staff with the right tools can give your company an advantage over others. According to Deloitte, “the most digitally advanced U.S. small businesses earned two times as much revenue per employee, experienced revenue growth that was nearly four times as high, and were almost three times as likely to have created jobs compared with the previous year.”
Furthermore, it can help your company attract and retain valuable team members. Forward-focused businesses allow staff to use technologies they’re accustomed to in their personal lives and ask for their input before selecting new systems. By connecting teams in-person and online, business leaders create an employee-friendly, inclusive workplace designed to satisfy their staff and customers.
6 Reasons Why Tech-Enabled Employees Are the Future
Nearly all entrepreneurs use some form of technology to run their businesses. But desktop computers and software programs are only a tiny piece of the technology puzzle. Today, companies turn to the cloud to deliver the experiences employees and customers want. The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council finds that the top cloud computing activities include:
- Cloud storage or backup
- Cloud-hosted email, web, and applications
- Cloud-based payroll processing
Additionally, “35% use cloud computing for each of the following three activities: Communication and collaboration, video conferencing and webinar services, and invoicing, sales and expense tracking, or reporting.” Below we outline the primary ways tech-enabled employees will make a difference for the future of your business.
1. Customers Want Convenient Scheduling Options
Since “60% of customer interactions now take place online,” offering online scheduling is vital to the customer experience. Prospective clients need easy and quick ways to set up meetings. They don’t want to wait for your organization to respond via email or phone with available dates and times. With cloud-based meeting, planning, and scheduling software, prospects can view your available meeting times, listed in their time zone, and choose the option that works for them.
Integrated scheduling tools automatically put new appointments in individual or shared calendars, so every team member stays updated. Microsoft 365 supports shared calendars and Shifts in Microsoft Teams lets supervisors create, update, and manage schedules. Plus, employees can use convenient in-app tools to schedule a meeting while chatting with clients online.
2. Small Businesses Rely on Hybrid or Remote Workforces
67% of small business respondents to an SMB Group survey say they established or expanded their work from home programs, while 57% report increasing their budget to equip work-from-home employees. This shift can decrease overhead expenses and improve employee morale.
Regardless of where your team works, cloud software lets them access the same tools and information used by in-house employees. Furthermore, digital technologies support contract workers who assist companies with non-core business tasks, such as accounting or marketing. The SMB Group finds:
- Two in five small businesses use cloud-based payroll processing
- 28% utilize cloud tools for e-commerce support
- Three in ten leverage the cloud for accounting purposes
- 22% rely on cloud-enabled customer engagement solutions
Whether your company embraces a fully remote or hybrid workforce, technology helps you get work done. Tech-enabled employees can communicate and collaborate with co-workers and clients from anywhere. For example, you can add a client to Microsoft Teams to work together in real-time on documents or presentations. Or forward calls to remote employees using your Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.
3. Companies Need to Increase Office and Business Efficiencies
Small businesses can gain a huge competitive advantage by automating many back-office workflows and reducing error-prone manual data entry. According to the 2021 Zapier State of Business Automation Report, “66% of SMBs say automation is now essential for running their business.”
Cloud-based tools like customer relationship management (CRM) systems and project management platforms integrate with other software. Integrations ensure that all teams and departments have access to updated information. Zapier finds that the most common automated tasks consist of:
- Reducing manual data entry
- Managing leads and following up with them
- Creating and organizing documents
- Managing inventory and distribution
4. Sales Performance Depends on Tech-Enabled Teams
Today’s sales teams need access to every resource on the road. Moreover, they need to communicate with marketing and customer service teams to stay on top of the latest data about prospective clients. A cloud-based resources hub is a central location that holds updated versions of sales materials, price sheets, and lead nurturing content.
With remote access, sales teams can customize their presentations on the spot to appeal to executives or anyone else who wants to join the conversation. The ease of personalization gives sales many advantages. Nucleus Research notes that 65% of companies using a mobile CRM achieve their sales quotas versus 22% of those using non-cloud-based tools.
5. An Inclusive Culture Is Key to Solving Staffing Problems
Simply put, tech enables employees with various abilities to thrive in your workplace. Indeed, promoting your organization as accessible and inclusive can help you attract and retain employees while increasing your revenue and profit.
According to Accenture, companies that “stood out for leadership in areas specific to disability employment and inclusion achieved—on average—28% higher revenue, double the net income, and 30% higher economic profit margins over the four-year period we analyzed.”
Tech-enabled employees use VoIP phone systems to transcribe meetings in real-time and support voicemail-to-email. Moreover, Microsoft offers accessibility features that check documents and highlight issues affecting comprehension, such as missing descriptive hyperlinks.
Assistive technology is a crucial way to differentiate your business. But small business owners need to listen to teams when selecting software tools. Although PwC finds “90% of C-suite executives say their company pays attention to people’s needs when introducing new technology,” only 53% of employees say the same.
6. Companies Must be Ready for Disruptions
In 2020 some companies couldn’t send out timely paychecks because the staff wasn’t able to access company software. Others lost access to customer data during shutdowns. However, the SMB Group states, “83% or more of respondents said cloud applications have been extremely or moderately valuable in helping to weather the COVID-19 crisis.”
While the pandemic may have been a once-in-a-lifetime event, there’s a good chance more disruptions are on the way. These might be weather-related or a cybersecurity event that halts workplace activities.
Switching workflows to the cloud can increase uptime and allow companies to manage business-critical processes from anywhere. Cloud services help small businesses by providing automated backup programs and disaster recovery services. Plus, end-to-end security programs can assist small businesses with keeping onsite and mobile devices secure.
Prepare Your Staff for the Future
Small businesses competing in a global market need to leverage every available advantage. Fortunately, cloud-enabled technology gives your employees the tools to do their job from any location. By working towards a digital transformation, companies will see a return on their investment, leading to increased revenue, reduced costs, and better overall employee and customer satisfaction.
- The Future of Meetings – How Microsoft 365 and Teams are Leading The Way - July 26, 2021
- How Tech-Enabled Employees Will Be Essential to the Future Success of Your Small Business - July 8, 2021
- How to Transition Your Organization’s Current Remote Work Efforts to a Long-Term Strategy - April 13, 2021