According to Gartner reports in 2016, the Australian tech market grew by 2.8 per cent to reach $83.3 billion. Australian SMEs eager to embrace change are a huge part of this robust market, spending an estimated $52,000 per year on new technology alone.
Investing in new technology not only provides SMEs with new ways of doing business, but it also brings great opportunities for growth.
Many of the new technologies available allow SMEs to boost productivity and efficiency by streamlining their day-to-day processes or eliminating manual tasks like filing. Innovation is the key to greater productivity and output.
Based on sales data from COS over the past 12 months, these are the most popular tech items for SMEs and tips for deciding if these are the right tech for your business:
Two-in-one devices that combine a laptop with a tablet have come about because of the agile working trend, with more people wanting to work in different ways in different settings.
Before deciding on which two-in-one device is right for you, ask yourself a few questions.
For example: do you prefer bendback or detachable screens? If your laptop is going to be your most commonly used device, a bendback unit is your best bet as it is more effective in laptop mode and features a better keyboard as well as more ports.
It does, however, tend to weigh a little more, so that is something to keep in mind.
If your preference is to spend more time working from your tablet but you want the option to switch to laptop mode, then a detachable unit is the better option for you.
With a screen that pops off from its keyboard, you will have a much better tablet experience. However, it does tend to have a slightly weaker battery life, and is not as intuitive when it comes to typing.
Webcams and headsets
Working remotely means calling in for meetings and conferences, and so webcams and headsets have become a “must have” with SMEs.
With so many options out in the marketplace, the key to making the right choice is determining your environment and buying accordingly. Ask yourself these key questions:
- Are you working in the office, at home or on the go? Also, how noisy will this environment be?
The right speakers, depending on your surroundings, will help you to get the most out of your calls, and the right microphone will deliver suitable sound quality at the other end to make sure you are heard.
You will need to consider these conditions when choosing your webcam also, particularly the resolution. The higher the resolution, the clearer you’ll look on screen.
Nobody wants to look pixelated, so start at a resolution of 640x480 pixels for best results.
- What connectivity options will be available to you?
You will need to make sure that your headset solution is compatible with your phone system to avoid any last minute stress at not being able to join a call.
The same goes for your webcam: compatibility to your computer is the key.
Digital storage and security
We’re all happy to see physical filing becoming a thing of the past, but in its place has come the task of saving important documents in electronic form, securely.
External hard drives and USBs are top of the list for data storage, but the key now is to be sure that the drives you are buying are encrypted, password protected and include anti-tampering features thrown in for good measure.
Investing in high-quality, secure scanners assists with digital filing while delivering confidence that precious and sometimes sensitive information is securely stored.
For remote workers, portable scanners are a lifesaver, doing away with the need to carry around piles of documents to scan once back in the office. On-the-go scanning is truly one of the great feats of technology.
Despite the boom in agile work life, there is still a need for the trusty monitor.
There is nothing quite like switching to a large display after working from a small laptop. There is also a growing trend of employee workstations including two (or more) monitors.
However, it can be quite tricky choosing the right monitor as no one monitor will do all things. The important thing is to choose a monitor based on individual use.
For example, a photographer, web or game designer will need a specialised monitor that offers, at the very least, precise colour accuracy.
Of course these specialised monitors are perfectly fine for general use, but if you need a monitor for general use only, there is no need to spend the extra money on a specialised monitor. You really just need to look for something that works well for general computing and productivity.
Many SMEs struggle to keep up with rapidly changing technologies, but with a little research and leg work, staying on top of the technology train is not only achievable, but is also a smart move for your business.
Plus there are many benefits, including better efficiency and productivity, as well as a real improvement in that elusive work/life balance.
Belinda Lyone is the general manager of office products company COS.