Since technology is constantly evolving, small businesses everywhere must adapt to suit the needs of the ever-demanding customer. Over the years there have been great advancements in cloud services, data management and IT services. However, with all these options, deciding on the correct path for your business may be daunting. In fact, many small business owners actually avoid addressing their IT problems due to uncertainty and lack of knowledge. That doesn’t have to be you. With a little research and careful planning, you can overcome those IT challenges and save both time and money in the process. In this post, we’ll go over three big technology challenges businesses face and how you can overcome them.
Challenge #1: Choosing the right technology according to company’s needs
Investing in new technology can seem like a daunting and overwhelming task. The many stories of failed implementations, the abundance of choice, and the fear of choosing the wrong tools can lead any business to hesitation in acquiring new technologies. In order to stay competitive, businesses must take the plunge. The good news is that you do not have to make irrational or uneducated decisions because there are key aspects to look at before making a decision.
Choosing the right technology correctly the first time can be done by:
- Knowing your business’s strengths
Focus on points in your company where you are succeeding and where you can improve. Consult with managers and employees to assess pain points and in turn understand how much time is spent on specific activities and where optimisation is needed. For example, slow Wi-fi speeds may slow down day-to-day operations. Scaling up to a faster package would increase productivity and increase business growth.
- Knowing your employees
Understand the skill sets of your employees. Trying to implement new technology to a team that refuses to adapt is a futile endevour. To avoid such an issue, ensure that you understand the strengths of your team and where they will need support. A piece of technology that requires significant investment in constant training may not be worth it.
- Being User friendly
User friendly technology is extremely important, as having a product that causes frustration amongst staff may result in decreased productivity.
- Researching the technology of interest
Researching a product before you buy is similar to test driving a car before you purchase it. You need to ensure you assess what products are on the market and find reviews from other users. Allowing the key users of the technology to lead research efforts, will ensure they benefit from the new product or system.
- Ensuring technical support is available
Through the implementation process, the chances of having a highly trained team are unlikely. To ensure the smooth transition from the old to new system, support, in the form of training, security, upgrades and troubleshooting services are vital.
Choosing the right technology means choosing the right system that not only delivers the capacity you need today, but can also meet tomorrow’s expansion needs. At the same time, you need to ensure you are not paying for more capacity than you need. Fortunately enough, there are now apps like Commercient SYNC that allow you to pay per user, per month, and has the flexibility to scale up as your business grows.
Challenge #2: Integrating applications
Integrating applications is another challenge that businesses often face. Sometimes newer technologies do not integrate well with older systems or legacy applications. Independent systems also prove to be an issue, as they act in isolation and are not able to be integrated. Due to this, operational and employee efficiency can take a huge hit such as integration issues like: duplication will be forced of tasks and the inability to quickly find and track data. Integrating applications assists in comparing performance with a variety of others and helps with business management procedures. Furthermore, IT facilities are developed easier and when customers have expectations, they can be responded to in good time.
This is why it is important to check whether your existing systems will integrate with any new technologies you want to leverage. In essence, your payments system should work with your accounting system, and your accounting system with your CRM, which then should work with your marketing tools, and so on.
CRM integration allows all your sales team’s essential functions to be in one place. This creates a space where emails, accounting, customer support and document management can be dealt with and linked.
Integrations can take place in one of three ways:
- Native integrations are built into the CRM software
They are the easiest to use and can be turned on with one click, within your CRM. Moreover, it enables you to work with common business tools. However, limitations occur with this integration platform; as they are only available for a small number of business tools.
- 3-rd party integrations are developed by independent companies
This integration platform is especially useful when many business tools are being utilised by a small business team. They are able to connect a wide range of business tools with your CRM and provide a large range of opportunities.
- Custom integrations are created using APIs (application programme interfaces).
This integration platform is a software-to-software interface that allows programs to connect and communicate with each other on a larger scale. All cloud-based businesses utilise APIs, which allows other types of software to access your CRM.
Custom CRM integrations often requires technical expertise, however, when all your applications are connected, your business can operate more efficiently, and employees can be more productive. You can experience this with Commercient SYNC, which serves to integrate your CRM and ERP system, which automates data migration and frequent tasks by connecting your ERP with thousands of internet apps, such as marketing systems CRM (like Salesforce), email, social media, etc. You can have assurance that your data is protected and is seamlessly transferred from one application to another.
Commercient SYNC, the #1 data integration platform for sales, makes it possible to see important accounting data directly in your sales system. It keeps you up-to-date with changes made to your ERP and CRM system simultaneously. It supports over 85 ERPs and most major CRMs. Commercient handles everything, including hosting, so you don’t have to hire an IT specialist to install it and a server. SYNC helps businesses streamline sales and customer service, cut costs, increase customer satisfaction, and drive profitability.
Within CRM, your sales team will have access to ERP information such as customer information, sales history, invoicing, terms, serial numbers invoiced, inventory, A/R information, multi ship to addresses, and more. New accounts, sales, opportunities, etc., created in CRM are SYNC’d back to ERP, avoiding double data entry and possible errors.
Challenge #3: Securing company data
Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated, and small businesses are being targeted now more than ever before, which means they are at much more risk from a security breach than larger ones. Imagine if your business data fell into the wrong hands, just a single breach can be enough to completely ruin people’s trust in your brand; employee information, customer payments and business strategies are personal which need to be kept out of the hands of criminals. Taking these important steps mentioned below is essential to ensure your company doesn’t become a target.
- Create BOYD (Bring your own device) policies
With over 68% of employees accessing files from their smartphones, it is essential to create policies to keep sensitive data safe. Outdated operating systems and lack of encryption on smart devices are a cause for concern in terms of data leakage. Software installation, updates and maintenance should be provided to employees utilising smart devices.
- Utilise identity and access management (IAM)
IAM allows companies to control and monitor who accesses specific data through identity mapping as well as restricted data. Real-time and continuous risk analysis can be maintained to ensure data is accessed securely.
- The use of encryption
Encryption is beneficial for both data and devices on the move. Ensuring mobile devices and USBs as well as sensitive data are encrypted while moving to and from the cloud reduces the risk of data breaches. A type of encryption is known as, cloud cryptography and one of the benefits of this is that if, unauthorised users tried to breach through the security systems, businesses would be notified and the only ones who have access to this information are the ones with cryptography keys.
In order to overcome the challenge one must take the necessary steps to secure your sensitive data. This includes leveraging cloud-based apps like Commercient SYNC, which provide you with a safe and secure way to quickly take payments in your ERP, CRM or eCommerce system. In addition, you’ll have access to effective and updated anti-malware solutions, administering employee cybersecurity training, policies governing internet usage, BYOD’s, and access to sensitive company data.
The right technology will stay with your business even as it grows. Choosing the correct technology, ensuring smooth integration and a safe data platform can all be achieved with a little knowledge and know how. Allow Commercient help you overcome the most common technology challenges faced by companies. Our ERP and CRM experts can help you choose the right application for your company. We can also assist with integrating your existing applications. Commercient provides you with a secure cloud environment for your business data. If you have any other technology challenges that you want to know how to overcome, We are here to help you in the best way we can. Contact us today!
About The Author
Shana Vilensky currently works in the finance sector while studying law part-time through the University of South Africa. She is passionate about technology, research and writing.