Check out some of the latest digital technologies becoming available to SMEs and the efficiencies and cost savings they are capable of delivering.
Some people love technology and see great benefits in the cost and time savings it delivers. Others loathe technology and the need to constantly change and adapt to their way of doing things. The difference is likely the perceived value that new technologies bring.
We’ve all heard it a million times – some new technology will help us do X and Y better, faster or cheaper. But at what cost, both in terms of the financial acquisition as well as the time invested in integrating the new technology into our existing operations?
If you believe that technology is too costly to implement – financially and/or timewise – then it’s perfectly understandable why you wouldn’t see substantial value in technology.
“All businesses are very conscious of every dollar that is being spent, and getting a return for that spend, so it’s a common question regardless of whatever service or solution that you’re trying to provide to that consumer,” explains Andrew Mumford, chief sales officer at MessageMedia.
“We find that when talking to small businesses especially, it’s the entrance to market that they’re concerned about – how much of a drain and an overhead is this going to be on me as a business owner/operator? It’s not normally a conversation around cost.”
SMS communications reducing administrative costs
Using the example of technologies offered by his own business – SMS communications – Andrew explains that there are a variety of managed services on the market that allow SMEs to enjoy the benefits and efficiencies of new technologies, without having to allocate the traditional time to manage that transition process.
While SMS in itself is not new, it is the variety of applications that are constantly changing and growing.
“Just imagine you’ve made an appointment and you’ve had that text message reminder come in reminding you of your hairdressing appointment, and you’ve typed back yes to confirm or it’s reminded you to pick up the phone and reschedule that appointment,” he says.
“The management of your appointment book becomes critically important. So with a small salon, you want to make sure that all the people who have made appointments know their appointments are there and that they are coming.”
According to Andrew, such technologies are particularly suited to smaller businesses, because they allow the business to overcome the financial constraints of not having a helpdesk, call centre or even a receptionist.
Faster payments, faster processing
Another area of technological development sweeping through the SME community relates to payments.
“People want to have a quick interaction, rather than having to go off to a website, being forced to key in details, the possibility of someone looking over their shoulder seeing what they are doing, having to enter their credit card details, or even making a phone call and speaking to someone over the phone,” Andrew says.
Soon, Andrew says, customers will be paying for goods with a simple text message rather than a lengthy email or online payment form.
The benefit for consumers is obvious – a fast and simple transaction. However, businesses can also enjoy benefits of such technology, such as more immediate access to their cash and an opportunity to reduce late payments hitting their cash flow.
Picture tells a thousand words
It’s an old saying that a picture tells a thousand words, but even in today’s bustling marketplace, it still rings true. Which is why MMS messages – the use of images being sent via text message – is an area ripe for revolution.
As Andrew points out, there are a variety of ways MMS could be used beyond simply sending an image of your lunch at the local to a friend.
“A good example is if you had a package delivered and you’ve left authority for that package to be left on the front doorstep for example and you get home and the package is damaged, or you’ve opened it up and inside the goods are damaged,” he says.
“You can quickly take a photograph, text it into their customer support centre with your delivery number and say, ‘Hey, I’ve received a package that’s damaged. Here’s the evidence’, and it’s obviously time-stamped.
“Or imagine being able to send out promotions in the form of digital ‘scratchies’.
“[As a customer, you receive] a digital image, you open it up on your phone, and then by swiping your finger across the image, it effectively scratches the surface off and reveals whether you’ve won a prize, and then tracks your customer information,” says Andrew.
Clearly, when it comes to technology and the things that can be done, the options are endless – it simply comes down to where you see value for your business and its customers!
Andrew will be one of around 30 industry leaders speaking at the upcoming B2B Expo in Sydney. He will be delving into the correlation between digital technology and growth, exploring the points above in more detail and loads more.
The My Business team will also be there, so be sure to say hello and share your thoughts on what you’d like to see more from mybusiness.com.au.
Click here to reserve your free ticket to this year's B2B Expo!
Opinion: Why do so many claim to represent small businesses?
By Adam Zuchetti
Opinion: House prices not all doom and gloom
By Adam Zuchetti
Analysis: How can SMEs realistically stay competitive?
By Adam Zuchetti