Business Products & Services

Essential Small Business Technology For 2017

By: Marco Verch

A large number of small business rely on technology to manage expenses, increase efficiency, improve performance and grow profitability worldwide.

According to the study 2015 SMB Routes to Market, performed by SMB Group, 29 percent of small business view technology as significantly helping them improve their outcomes.

Business owners are already burdened with all the task required to keep their company going every day – so keeping up with the fast pace of changes in technology can become a daunting task.

Fortunately, we have compiled a list of all the technology category that a small business needs to incorporate in 2017 to succeed.

1. Mobile Is a Must

It’s hard to imagine a technology which has gained more adoption or grown faster than mobile.

In 2016 alone, over six billion people worldwide have used a mobile device. This number is expected to become close to seven billion by the year 2020.

This makes it undeniable that mobile is a must-have technology in 2017. Due to its massive growth, business should use it and incorporate it in at least four ways, apps, website design, payment, and all-in-one device use.

Mobile Apps

In “Mobile App Strategies Boost Revenues for Small Business Owners,” an article by professor Scott Shane, he explains that having a well-tested and well-developed mobile application is an incredibly effective marketing strategy which gets great results. Scott teaches entrepreneurial studies at Case Western Reserve University.

Mobile-Friendly Websites

As more and more people access the internet via mobile, it’s essential that small business have a mobile-friendly website available to their consumers. There are two reasons for that:

1. Search engines such as Bing reward mobile-friendly websites with better ranking.
2. A company without a mobile version of their website could lose business if consumers go for those that do.

Payment Methods

Mobile Payments have been growing in popularity in the form of apps such as Microsoft Wallet, so it can be a good idea to start accepting them as payment. Companies such as Merchant Account Solutions (a partner of Microsoft) have been making mobile card readers an option for people who own small businesses.

2. Marketing Automation Improves Efficiency

With marketing automation software, conducting marketing activities has become a much more efficient task for small businesses, removing the need for dedicated marketing professionals.

The advantages of this type of software include the ability to segment messages, score leads, and set up processes which respond differently based on a customer’s actions.

Automation software also links seamlessly with a lot of CRM platforms, bringing sales and marketing together and providing both with ample understanding of the prospect or customers. External companies such as Rocket CRM solely focus on improving the CRM automation system for medium to small businesses.

CRM platforms like Microsoft Dynamics 365 do a lot of the heavy lifting which would previously have been handled by manual processes.

3. Businesses Are All Heading to the Cloud

Using on-premise hardware and software is starting to the decrease as the availability of cloud-based solutions increase. Microsoft Office 365 is a good example – this kind of technology provides better security, flexibility, scalability and efficiency when compared to on-premise alternatives.

4. Email Is Still Tried-and-True

Email has been undeniably a powerful marketing method since the 90s. Despite a lot of marketers’ predictions, it still finds favour as a very cost-effective medium for small businesses everywhere. In fact, this type of marketing was ranked as the best channel when it comes to return on investment, a trend which isn’t likely to change in 2017.

What should change, though, is the approach. “Batch and blast” is becoming less and less effective, being replaced by more targeted messages which segment the user base and take into account each customer’s needs.

The mantra of 2017 will be “mobile-first” when it comes to designing e-mail campaigns. As more and more people access their e-mail via mobile devices, messages become expected to ascribe to their limitations, such as small screens. Microsoft Dynamics 365’s marketing solutions can be a great way to develop email marketing campaigns that target certain customers.