How Technology Can Give Small Businesses an Edge
Technology has a surprisingly long history of leveling the playing field between established corporations and their newer, smaller competitors. While big organizations focused on offering the convenience of a one-stop shop, startups and home businesses took advantage of web search capabilities to provide what customers wanted. Technology has also made it less expensive for new businesses to get started while providing inexpensive and easy to implement software solutions a variety of applications.
These developments have all allowed small businesses to become established and distinguish themselves - in spite of the fierce competition and overwhelming advantages of larger firms. In many cases, the smaller challenger has been able to overtake the competition by leveraging technology. Along with tools for search, online research, payment systems, website design, and other technology solutions give small businesses an edge when it comes to refining their daily and long-term processes.
Technology for Business Processes
According to Forbes contributor Ben Kerschberg, digital technology is already transforming three key aspects of business: the customer experience, operating models, and business models. This technology allows companies to refine their processes, minimize work, identify new opportunities and even expand their activities to reach a global audience. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is one type of technology solution designed to integrate and analyze all business systems, from finances and operations to customer relationship management and business intelligence. Technology can help your business improve its continuous functions in nearly every area.
The Downfall of Legacy Systems
With all the many advantages that technology-based solutions can bring to a wide range of business processes, technology itself is not enough. In fact, of the respondents in KPM's U.S. CEO Outlook 2016, 81 percent were concerned their businesses were not able to keep up with technology. Companies must be willing to update their processes accordingly to enjoy the full benefit of the latest advances, but this change can be a struggle. First, operations and processes at bigger businesses tend to become more complex over time, as steps are added to accommodate new issues. This complexity in both company structure and procedures makes implementing new processes and software more difficult.
There's another reason that some businesses find themselves staying with outdated technology for processes rather than embracing the latest solutions -- the cost of their current systems. Many large corporations at one point invested vast sums of money into their current technology systems, which may have been cutting edge when they were adopted. Even while these old technologies hold the business back, that costly investment makes business leaders far less willing to abandon them.
The Advantage of Small Business Agility
By contrast, your small business is better able to adopt technological advances as they appear on the market. The natural agility of a compact organization means not only that there are fewer people to bring on board with technology changes, but also that it's much easier to make the relevant process changes in your business. Compared to large corporations, a small business can quickly make the leap to the latest software solutions for business operations while evolving business operations based on technology insights.
Finding and applying the most recent technology solutions to your business processes is an ideal way for your small business to edge out the larger competition. You have more opportunities to find and employ new technology and systems -- keeping what works and revising what doesn't work -- than the big corporations in your industry. It's that ability to move fast with new technology and processes that give you an asymmetric marketing advantage - and that will put your small business ahead.