Technology is so instrumental to business success today that it seems unnatural not to have the latest tools. Because product life cycles in the information technology industry tend to be short, there’s always something new to embrace. For small business owners, the question becomes which equipment and IT services will provide the most benefits.
Certain technologies, such as productivity software and basic internet service, are usually perceived as essentials. While this view may be correct, there are plenty of techs that go unnoticed. Whether these technologies are service improvements, devices, apps, or new protocols, they are just as critical to small business wins. Here are four you should definitely know about.
1. AI-Driven Wi-Fi
Internet service and Wi-Fi are no longer optional. However, you don’t have to settle for standard connectivity. Small business Wi-Fi solutions such as Plume WorkPass rely on AI to provide a powerful set of enhancements. Such solutions offer adaptive connectivity, enterprise-level security, customer analytics, and productivity tools, turning your internet service into a smart asset.
Adaptive connectivity makes sure the Wi-Fi signal throughout your workspace is strong enough when and where it’s needed. No more disconnects during busy periods or when employees try to get online in the breakroom. Artificial intelligence learns how and when your business uses Wi-Fi the most, directing additional bandwidth accordingly.
Enterprise-level security features block cybersecurity threats and questionable devices before they wreak havoc with your network. You can detect suspicious activities in and around your business after hours as your connected equipment becomes motion detectors. Customer analytics let you gather insights about your guests, including how often they visit and how long they stay. And productivity tools can be used to control online access on employees’ devices, ensuring workers stay on task.
2. Collaboration Apps
If you feel like you’ve fallen behind the crowd when it comes to collaboration apps like Slack or Google Workspace, don’t worry. Organizations of all kinds are getting used to communicating and sharing information in digital workspaces, and few take advantage of all their capabilities. Even companies with hybrid workers and departments that operate from separate locations sometimes underutilize the software.
Learning curves for new applications, information overload, and ingrained communication habits may be to blame. Employees know they need to speak to their managers or colleagues about something they’re working on, but they’ve set up shop at home that day. They figure it will be easier to talk about the issue when they’re back in the office. That day comes, and they get distracted or forget.
When information isn’t exchanged in a timely manner, project deadlines can be missed and other employees left out of the loop. These unfortunate individuals are left holding the bag, wondering why some task wasn’t done or if it’s OK to proceed with their assigned responsibilities. Poor collaboration like this can negatively impact productivity, effectiveness, and morale.
Using communication and collaboration apps can up productivity by 30%, whether your team is in-person, hybrid, or fully remote. Transparent, effective communication also helps you keep your team members around longer. Good, constructive communication results in 4.5 times higher employee retention.
3. Self-Service Portals for Customers
Your customers are going to have questions about your products and services. And they’ll want answers and assistance, whether it’s normal business hours or the middle of the night. Some companies can provide 24/7 live customer service and online chat options. Others find it impractical due to costs, labour shortages, or a desire to keep everything in-house.
Communicating with a live agent is helpful, but some customers are looking for a different option. Self-service portals let clients search for information, find quick answers, and avoid the complications of live conversations. They’re an option customers find more efficient and are comfortable using.
These portals can feature simple lists of FAQs sorted by topic. Businesses can also make them more interactive and personalized according to consumers’ profiles. An exercise equipment manufacturer, for instance, could design a self-service portal with information based on a customer’s treadmill model. Users can easily access the right manual, follow troubleshooting steps, and schedule service and repairs.
Self-service options also help organizations run more efficiently, reducing the number of calls for basic questions. Clients help themselves and resolve their issues when it’s convenient for them. This can reduce anxiety and frustration, potentially eliminating angry phone calls or visits that end up alienating staff.
4. Employee Engagement Software
In a survey of 600 U.S. businesses, 63% of respondents said that employee retention is more difficult than hiring. While employees tend to blame managers for the dissatisfaction that drives them to leave, supervisors also have a list of complaints about workers’ behaviours. Building and maintaining high levels of engagement is a two-way street.
While different perceptions and expectations can cause disengagement, a lack of communication and trust between manager and subordinate spells trouble. Neither party can read the other’s mind, and assumptions about underlying motives might create animosity, straining professional relationships. Colleagues with opposing communication styles may also find it challenging to understand what others are trying to say.
Employee engagement software helps business owners, supervisors, and team members break through communication barriers. While these apps can survey employee sentiments and collect feedback, they’re more than mere poll generators. Engagement software establishes and tracks performance expectations and objectives for supervisors and staff. The applications also facilitate peer recognition and reward programs and help outline team goals.
The latest tech is something most organizations need to run smoothly and drive growth. Software like Microsoft Office 365 and e-commerce platforms are well-known and crucial to success. However, there are under-the-radar tools that can boost your company’s effectiveness. The next time you’re looking for technologies to support your business, consider the productivity-enhancing and insightful solutions outlined here.