The pace of business has sped up significantly in recent years. Today’s companies face a number of challenges, such as a dynamic economy, greater competitive pressures, and increasing demands from customers, as they strive to be successful and profitable now, and into the future. But given the reality of business today, companies relying on yesterday’s technology will struggle to keep up. That’s where cloud software for small businesses comes in.
While the days of writing paychecks out by hand, storing old documents in banker’s boxes, and even sending out faxes may be over, there are numerous outdated processes and technologies still in use across your organization. Leveraging spreadsheets to collect information about your customers or employees? Using a pen and paper to track mileage for tax purposes? These are examples of homegrown processes many businesses still use that can result in lost time and money, and create unnecessary errors.
Anyone shuffling between tabs on the Excel sheet has at one time said, “There has to be a better way.” Fortunately, with cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions and Internet of Things (IoT) technology, small businesses indeed have a better way to streamline operations, gain new efficiencies that impact the bottom line, and change the way they run their companies.
The number of SaaS solutions designed to enhance critical processes and solve core challenges for small businesses has exploded in recent years. Experts predict worldwide spending on cloud services will grow from nearly $70 billion in 2015 to $141 billion in 2019. Just think about solutions that have introduced new innovations like Box that replace outdated tasks, offering companies a secure place in the cloud to store, access and share files. Or Quick Books Online, enabling companies to manage their accounting simply. Messaging apps like Slack have even disrupted the way colleagues communicate and have changed how companies collaborate to work more productively.
But it’s not just in-office processes that SaaS solutions have been improved. New technology advancements have also benefitted businesses with a ‘workforce-on-wheels’ – whether relying on trucks to transport goods or employing a sales team that spends a lot of time on the road. The arrival of SaaS technology to the field has introduced new efficiencies, from automating mileage tracking, monitoring driver behaviors for safety, and tracking vehicle location at any time.
The result is an influx of data the company can use to make smarter decisions about the business, using real-time information that may otherwise go unnoticed. In the next five years, 50 billion smart connected devices are expected to be in use, all helping to create and share data. As such, the need for solutions that can make sense of this information will be crucial to boosting productivity, informed decision making, and improved results.
For companies reluctant to embrace the promise of cloud software for small businesses, there are often two gating factors. One is getting over the ‘business as usual’ approach, whereby companies continue to use inefficient processes, just because that’s how things have always been done. The other major factor limiting a company’s adoption of new systems is often the cost involved. However, the new generation of scalable, flexible SaaS solutions provide small businesses with the same caliber of best-in-class tools used by larger organizations, without the need for a business loan to finance new hardware or software installations.
The reason? New cloud software for small businesses are hosted by the vendor, who stores data securely on their servers. Users access their data remotely through a web portal or mobile app. The vendor also takes the lead on things like integrations and upgrades and providing support – as a result, companies don’t need in-house IT support should questions or problems arise.
Still, the real value of investing in cloud-based solutions is the impact they have on daily operations for the small business owner. Rather than focusing on administrative time-zappers (think back to those spreadsheets), SaaS solutions enable leaders to focus on business-building initiatives. Just consider the example of snack company Bounce Foods, which achieved an annual growth rate of 53 percent after adopting cloud services to boost productivity. The ability to replace outdated process and focus efforts on more strategic priorities mean that SaaS solutions will quickly pay for themselves, and pay dividends long after the initial investment.
Another major way that new technology has transformed the way companies run is through the level of business intelligence they deliver. In the past, many aspects of running a business were left to gut feel or the whims of management. Not so today, as SaaS innovation and automated and digital solutions can provide an extensive amount of information – from predicting performance of job candidates, or targeting customers with relevant offers to get them to buy more.
Research shows that companies using business analytics are five times more likely to make faster decisions, and three times as likely to execute those decisions as intended. And the rise of connected technology will only create more business intelligence from employees, devices, vehicles and more. At a time when 64 percent of business and technology decision-makers have difficulty getting answers from their dashboard metrics, the need for solutions that can collect, analyze and make sense of this information is key to gaining the insights to improve business.