Without an IT department, purchasing technology for a small business can be a difficult task. With so many new tech options to choose from, trying to make purchasing decisions can easily weigh down a small business owner.
New innovations in technology have made business solutions more affordable for the smaller players. The following technology trends for 2016 can help small businesses drive profit and growth without breaking the bank.
Virtual Business Is Now a Reality
Today, the term virtual has left the realm of science fiction and become synonymous with computers and the internet, two things no modern business can live without. Businesses that invest in these new technologies and read sites like MoneyMorning.com to stay on top of investing trends can leverage the new virtual aspect of business to get ahead.
Smartphones are taking business from the office space into the outside world. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, the percentage of people telecommuting in the United States alone has risen to 37%. With the Internet of Things, smart homes, and cars equipped with smart technology, the smartphone a small business owner chooses must be compatible with the other tech he or she uses.
Apple’s iPhone 6S Plus has a roomy 5.5-inch display and better battery life for heavy users. The new A9 processor in the 6S makes this phone super fast, which is great for multitasking. A smarter version of Siri is also included in the 6S with the virtual assistant now being able to understand commands in context.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 or Note 5 are also good choices. The S6’s speed, large display, and split-screen multitasking and S finder for locating files make it a great business tool. The Note 5’s large screen plus stylus turn it into a great small tablet for mobile business.
Laptops, Desktops, and tablets
A laptop is an essential tool for small businesses. Whether you need higher performance or more portability, most small businesses will want to look for a laptop that’s slim, lightweight and powerful enough for everyday tasks like checking email, browsing the internet, and streaming videos.
The Dell XPS 13 or HP EliteBook 705 are good choices for easy mobility. Chromebooks are great for users who spend a lot of time in the cloud. For Mac lovers, the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are also good choices.
For businesses that have more video and graphic intensive needs, a mobile workstation might be a better choice. Although these laptops are chunkier than Notebooks and Ultrabooks, they pack more punch when it comes to speed and power.
For users who prefer the smaller tablets, the Dell Venue 11 Pro and Surface Pro 4 deliver performance similar to a laptop. The Apple iPad is also a good choice and more and more businesses are using iPads as point-of-sale systems with software like iConnect, a complete POS system that caters to service industries.
Although mobility has become front and center with many businesses, a good amount of buyers still choose a desktop for working. Desktops with high-end processors and good amounts of memory and storage like the Dell Precision T6710 or the Mac Pro are good choices for general computing tasks. For better multitasking, the Lenovo Yoga Home 900 gives users flexibility with a movable hinged monitor and three-hour battery.
With the introduction of teleconferencing, large travel budgets are becoming a thing of the past. Solutions like Chromebox for Meetings and Intel Unite allow you to connect video cameras and microphones for a complete system. The HP Collaboration PC is ideal for small businesses as it comes complete with Intel Unite software and allows meeting participants to share their screens wirelessly.
Storage: Cloud or On-premise
More and more companies are choosing cloud solutions for their storage needs. However, for small businesses that don’t want to rely on the cloud, a network attached storage (NAS) device lets users host files themselves. With devices like the Seagate Personal Cloud, Western Digital MyCloud, and QNAP TS-563 small businesses can back up files from a desktop or laptop easily. QNAP even has mobile apps that allow users to access files from their smartphone.
Of course, cloud storage is a good option as well and many services will include some free storage with their plans. GoogleApps is a great choice with a minimum of 1 terabyte of storage and access to Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Hangouts. Microsoft also offers 1TB of storage with OneDrive for use with an Office 365 subscription.
Marketing Apps and Automation
In small businesses, departments like IT and marketing are often woefully understaffed. Marketing automation software helps businesses handle their marketing without the expense of hiring a separate marketing agency.
Software solutions like Hubspot or Eloqua handle the customer relationship management (CRM) for small businesses. With tools like social media analytics and integrated SEO, these marketing tools can help drive traffic to small businesses. Platforms like Appy Pie and Microsoft PowerApps allow even non-technical users to create personalized business apps easily. These apps even allow you to embed click-to-call voice and video communications.
New technology offers small businesses better platforms to manage things like marketing, invoicing, inventory management, and analytics. By using a combination of hardware and software, these businesses drive profit without huge overhead costs by eliminating the need for separate IT and marketing departments. As business becomes more and more virtual, leveraging the power of technology is paramount for driving small business in 2016.
Jade Gould is a consultant who is a geek at heart. He loves technology and is always trying out new apps and gadgets to help him at work.