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10 essential areas to apply low cost technology to your business.

10 essential areas to apply low cost technology to your business.

How can your business benefit from low cost technology solutions?

There are so many different types of technology solutions and software available for businesses to use, but often small businesses lack the I.T. resource or knowledge to select the most cost effective I.T. software solutions to suit their needs and more importantly, their budget.

As an entrepreneur myself who happens to understand I.T. technology, I have gone through that process and I would like to share with you some of the low cost solutions that I found and implemented for my own companies.

Whilst many of the suggested solutions are aimed at SME’s due to their low cost, there are many benefits for larger organisations too.

 

1. Personal Information Management: This can take many forms such as emails and contact lists to tasks lists and calendars. Today you can take advantage of 3rd party hosting solutions such as Google Enterprise which allow you to personalise the user-interface with your logo, whilst providing reliable global access.

 

2. Communications systems: Communicating effectively in business is vital and there are lots of online tools that are available to use for many different methods of communicating. Skype is one of the most well-known service providers which has video conference capabilities and instant messaging. Other conferencing tools include gotomeeting and Webex, which both have online collaboration functions, such as a shared white board and shared documents.

 

3. Cloud storage: Companies need to store and share a vast amount of documents amongst its various departments and external parties such as clients, suppliers and partners. Simple cloud storage solutions such as Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive provide large electronic storage space and excellent file management functions at an affordable price.

 

4. Project management: To ensure that projects run smoothly, critical information is shared effectively and task items are tracked properly, a good project management tools is very important. Basecamp provides such a service and charges by the number of users, file space required and number of projects.

 

5. Social presence: In this social media world, there are many different social media channels that companies can use to interact with their customers, such as, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogger. It is important to be able to manage your social presence effectively. Social media management tools such as Hootsuite can allow you to manage multiple networks via a dashboard.

 

6. Sales and marketing: Online customers often find products or services through search engines such as Google and Yahoo. To be seen by your potential customers through these search engines you can either pay to appear in search listings through services such as Google Ad Words or optimise your website through search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques, such as writing a blog, which can often be free to set up via sites such as WordPress.

 

7. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools. Keeping an up-to-date database of customer information is vital in order to implement an effective sales programme and measure success and conversion rates. In turn SMEs can measure the productivity of their staff and effectiveness of their campaigns. Salesforce.com is a good web-based CRM tool.

 

8. Knowledge management: As SMEs continue to innovate and accumulate knowledge, sharing it among staff becomes critical. Evernote provides an easy to use, easy to organise way for knowledge management. It is sharable, organised and can easily be indexed for search. It also filters out the unwanted information such as website advertisements. The information can be synchronised to mobile devices as well as desktop computers and works across many operating systems.

 

9. Ideas management: Mind mapping tools such as Mindmeister and Freemind are great tools for ideas sharing. The results can be exported as a mindmap, text document and presentation document.

 

10. Paperless office: SMEs handle a lot of paper documents, it is often a nuisance to file and index them. Scansnap provides a solution for scanning documents quickly and utilising OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to provide a text version of the scanned document, and backup the information to the cloud.