Small Business Technology - Key Investment Areas

Sneha Hull | November 25, 2021 | 150 views

Small Business Technology - Key Investment Areas
Today's business environment is highly uncertain and has a strong inclination towards embracing technology shift. Small business owners are also gradually heading towards the same path. Therefore, considering the future scenario and business prospects, focusing on small business technology investment has become imperative.

On the other hand, many small business owners do not have the luxury of investing in technology without a strategy. They cannot take a trial-and-error approach due to their limited budget, resources, and unpredictability of the business climate. However, investments in technology for small businesses play a crucial role, particularly in today's business world. However, the tech needs of a small enterprise are limited, but a few essential elements of technology should be implemented.

"We've moved from digital products and infrastructure to digital distribution and web strategy to now into more holistic transformations that clearly are based on mobile, social media, digitization and the power of analytics and we think it's really a new era requiring new strategies."

– Saul Berman, Chief Strategist, VP & Global Digital Business Strategy Practice Leader for IBM Global Business Services
 

Key Areas of Investments in Small Business Technology That Cannot Be Neglected


Focus Cloud Applications


Cloud apps are accessed via a browser and are available on both desktop and mobile devices., On the other hand, cloud computing has existed in the business sector for an extended time but has been underutilized by small businesses owing to budget constraints. However, cloud computing costs have decreased considerably over time, to the point that small business owners may now use this technology.

Gartner's study indicates that up to 60% of business owners would rely on the cloud to hold data by 2022, nearly double the percentage in 2018.

Cloud computing enables businesses to access data and apps from any location, time, and mobile device, all at a fair cost. Cloud technology enables small businesses to easily access data on the go, enabling them to be more competitive on a global scale. Cloud computing enables various cloud-based services, including cloud storage, cloud backup, and cloud hosting. Cloud computing has several advantages, including increased flexibility and scalability, ease of data recovery, increased data security, and cost-effectiveness.

Ultimately, small business tech needs cloud computing applications for seamless business operations in the competitive business world.

Must-Have: AI, Machine Learning, And Analytics


Often, small companies believe that AI applications, machine learning, and analytics are beyond reach, resulting in minimal investment in technology. However, it is no longer an issue since commercial software solutions incorporate new technologies that enable you to do more with your data.

Analytics provides insight into your company's performance, customer experience, risk identification and mitigation, and market trends. In comparison, machine learning enables the service to be more personalized through collecting statistical data and extensive data using AI.

Despite the pandemic, researchers expect worldwide AI software revenues to reach $100 billion by 2025. (Deloitte)

Here is an amazing real-world corporate example. An early adopter of machine learning, 1-800-Flowers, unveiled 'Gifts When You Need' (GWYN), an IBM AI helper. It enabled GWYN to adapt presents to the chosen occasion by gathering information through interaction. As a result, customers received customized service and knowledge while purchasing from home. This raised the number of new clients while also broadening the demographic reach. In addition, personalized product suggestions enhanced conversions through machine learning.

Trending VR and AR Technology


Post-covid, virtual and augmented reality technologies will play a significant role. With the advancement of technology, the viewpoint on the corporate environment and ecosystem will shift.

The benefits and applications of virtual reality and augmented reality technology in business come in various forms, including customer experience, staff training, and product creation. The application of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies enhances client experiences and contributes to the quality and speed of manual job operations. Given that AR and VR are effective tools for growing sales and income, it's easy to see why small business technology investment is critical.

AR and VR are altering both online and physical commerce in dramatic ways. As a result, this technology has had a significant influence on the eCommerce and retail industries.

According to Statista 2021, the AR market size is currently $12 billion. (Statista, 2021)
As per AR Insider, by 2023, AR users are estimated to reach 2.4 billion. (AR Insider, 2021)

Here is one interesting example of the use of this technology. The Nike app enabled users to scan their feet and get accurate sizing recommendations. As a result, online shoppers were no more reluctant and afraid to mistake the size and safely buy shoes online. This feature was handy, primarily due to the pandemic crisis where in-store shopping was declining.

Mobile Technology a New Necessity


The substantial influence of mobile technology has increased significantly over the previous 18 months due to the coronavirus epidemic. However, mobile technology is no longer a buzzword for small company owners. Due to the epidemic, many small company owners resorted to digital solutions.

Mobile technology is not restricted to smartphones, wearables, or contactless payments; computers and GPS devices may also be equipped. Furthermore, mobile technology comes in various forms, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, network services such as 4G or 5G, and VPNs (virtual private networks). In the absence of genuine work mobility, supporting employees' mobile devices for work via a BYOD or CYOD program is a prudent investment.

FAQs:


Q. How do small business owners use technology to improve their business?


A. Small businesses can use technology in multiple different ways. For instance, they can use technology to connect with their customers, communicate with their employees, sell their products or services, better coordinate between the employees, simplify manual work, and many more.

Q. How much do small businesses spend on technology?


A. Small businesses should acknowledge a few technologies in their business operations. Below are the mentioned requisites:
  • Cloud computing
  • Mobile applications
  • HR software
  • Drones
  • Emails
  • Data Security

Q. What are the latest business technologies?


A. The latest and trendy technologies that are in widespread use in the business world are mentioned below:
  • Internet of things (IoT)
  • Virtual & augmented reality
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Mobile technology
  • Blockchain
  • 3d printing
  • Drones
  • Robotics & automation

Spotlight

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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. We recognize that small business is critical to our economic recovery and strength.

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Article | December 15, 2021

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Article | February 15, 2022

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How Are Small Business Accounting Software Meeting Industry Needs Today?

Article | September 17, 2021

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Article | September 23, 2022

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U.S. Small Business Administration

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CENTURY CALIFORNIA FUND TO FINANCE PCR BUSINESS FINANCE'S SMALL BUSINESS PROGRAM

Century California Fund | October 28, 2022

The Century California Fund (CCF), an entity controlled by Century Housing (Century) announced today an infusion of capital into a partnership with PCR Business Finance (PCR), which will support PCR's 45-year history of small business and micro lending to underserved communities. Lack of access to capital is a well-documented challenge facing minority borrowers. CCF's new small and micro lending partnership program with PCR will help fill an essential gap in the market. At the core of Century's work is the recognition that advancing equitable access to credit is essential to leveling the playing field for under-resourced groups who historically have suffered economic disadvantages and have been disproportionately impeded in building wealth. "Our goal is to advance financial equity and inclusion for small businesses in communities of color and other marginalized populations to build a more inclusive economy and create more equitable social outcomes," said Alan Hoffman, Senior Vice President, Century Housing. Mission-based Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) such as Century and PCR are committed to bringing resources to underserved communities. The new infusion of capital by CCF will leverage PCR's wealth of experience in providing small business and micro financing solutions to build net worth in minority-owned enterprises in underserved communities in Los Angeles. Historically, commercial financial institutions have not pursued financing for small businesses in communities of color for various reasons, among them size, experience and lack of credit, resulting in a widening of the wealth gap between communities in Los Angeles, creating and perpetuating economic hardships and often insurmountable barriers in accessing capital. "The new partnership will address the persistent obstacles of accessing affordable capital and managing cash flow in order to grow existing businesses, create jobs in underserved communities and improve the quality of life in communities that are under-resourced," OC Isaac, Chief Credit Officer, PCR Business Finance. About the Century California Fund and Century Housing Century California Fund, LLC is an entity 100% controlled by Century Housing created to engage in support and development activities in the communities in which Century Housing operates. Century Housing is a mission-driven Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) supporting quality affordable home development throughout California. Century Housing provides innovative end-to-end financing from acquisition to permanent loans and serves as a reliable partner to state and local agencies, municipalities and other CDFIs in pioneering impactful financing programs like GSAF or LACHIF. For information on how to invest in Century Housing and its mission, please visit the Invest page on Century's website: https://century.org/invest/ About PCR Business Finance Founded in 1977, PCR Business Finance (PCR) is a private, non-profit, Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), as certified by the U.S. Treasury, that provides business loans. Further, PCR provides small business educational services through its designation by U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), as a Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Finally, and in addition to its small business lending and educational services, PCR administers the pilot Metro Business Interruption Fund (BIF), which provides grants of up to $50,000 per impact year to eligible small businesses.

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