Bringing small businesses up to speed often means automation and outsourcing. Many tasks can be handled with fewer steps by using better software, while other tasks can be handled by companies and individuals who sell flexible services.
Here are the 5 ways to improve your business with the best that the tech world has to offer.
1. Remote Support
How often does your business need viruses removed? Do you need new software installation, uninstallation, or changes?
Many small businesses call on contractors to perform a quick fix as needed. This is fine if most of your small team is computer-savvy, but if your business has rampant computer failure or usage problems, these one-off repair charges can become expensive quickly.
Hiring a permanent technician may be a good idea, but will you need them enough to consider them an employee? If not, are there enough contractors in the area to attend to most of your issues in a timely fashion?
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For many businesses, the answer to fast accessibility and efficient cost is remote support. A remote support team can log into your systems with a consensual, remote connection and handle most support tasks.
Unless the internet isn’t working or there is a physical task such as changing hardware or removing a cable.
For situations where physical access is needed, the remote team can contract local professionals at their rates, leaving you with the same costs you agreed to with the remote support team.
Do you need to buy a powerful computer for every single user? Do you need massive amounts of hard drive/solid state drive (SSD) space for every computer, even when some employees don’t need much storage?
Technology is moving in cycles. The old days had dummy terminals — monitors with keyboards, essentially — that had no other capabilities but to act as interfaces for mainframes.
The personal computer era gave power to the individual user, and mainframes became servers with powerful, but specific tasks. They served files for people to use as a sort of locker room for data, and websites were the most popular use for servers.
Today, computing power is being handed out just like files on the server — because they *are* just files on a server. You can purchase virtual computer access that makes most of your hardware requirements someone else’s problem.
Virtualization works by carving segments of computer power into blocks, then molding them into a compartmentalized computer. The hardware is substituted or emulated as the virtual machine is tricked into thinking that it’s getting hardware input from somewhere else.
What is a computer other than the data you see? A bit of a philosophical question, but for most people today, they only need a screen to type and click the same way they would do on a physical, local computer.
There are limitations. Virtual computing is basically an interactive video that sends snapshots of the screen from your server to the computer.
The smoothness of the screen you see is entirely dependent on streaming technology. The same technology used on Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll, and other video sites is necessary for systems that need graphics cards to perform well, and that’s still a few years away when it comes to consumer virtual machine services.
3. Managed Servers
You don’t need to run a server inside your business. Instead of buying expensive server equipment, you can ask someone else to host your files.
Think about what you would need in order to host a useful server — emphasis on the phrase useful:
- Enough storage space for all files in the business.
- Internal network speed.
- Enough cables, ports and bandwidth for everything that needs access.
- Maintenance costs for the entire network.
- Energy costs for running and cooling your equipment.
A server is more than just its price tag. You need to pay to maintain and support the device, and whether you’re managing the server yourself or paying someone else, that’s time or money spent.
Allow an off-site team to handle your files and access the information as needed, with the added benefit of having backup files in multiple locations in the event of a local disaster.
4. Smart Office Technology
Lock and unlock your business remotely. Control the temperature of your business, and monitor your security systems remotely.
Smart home and smart office technology is part of the growing Internet of Things (IoT) industry, in which useful devices have internet access, on-board computing, and the ability to be accessed remotely.
This means being able to program your locks, thermostats, security cameras, and even washing machines from a smartphone.
There are security concerns to keep in mind. Like any internet-connected device, anyone who can access the device can technically gain access to your network and everything connected to it.
Although early IoT devices had embarrassingly easy exploits such as basic passwords that anyone could guess, the security is matching what one would expect from a standard computer.
Try User for username and Password for the password. That type of common sense security should have been solved years before IoT, but the same problem exists in routers and modems in some cases.
Making sure your IoT is more secure than that is half the battle.
5. HR Software Services
Are you still managing employee paperwork with literal paper? Do you have reams upon reams of contracts and healthcare details that your HR team needs to pull out just to figure out where an employee stands in the business?
That may be a bit extreme for most modern businesses, but how modern is your software? Does your HR team have to deal with slow, ugly, confusing screens from the 1990’s? Do they need to enter 3 or 4 different programs just to make changes to a single employee files?
Remember, human resource software for small business teams can bring you up to speed by creating a sleek experience that makes sense. Easier data input, easier reference for your teams, easier training, easier company culture management, and easier staffing is the name of the game.
If you need help with new technology in any part of your business, get in touch with a business technology consultant.