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Small Business Owner’s Guide To Connected Technology

The surplus of connected technologies, services, and companies proliferating the tech landscape make it a difficult industry to navigate. And with new technology introduced into the equation daily, small business owners often don’t have the resources to identify the best solutions for their businesses.

In fact, a study by Brother International Corporation and SCORE surveyed small business owners, reporting that 63% of respondents frequently feel overwhelmed with the number of technologies available to run their business.

As technology increasingly interconnects all parts of our daily lives, it’s integral that business owners take the time to understand the current climate of new technology and learn how it can benefit their business. Before making large purchasing decisions and revamping your tech architecture, it is necessary to ask yourself some questions.

What makes technology connected?

Technology is “connected” when it’s enabled to communicate with other devices, a.k.a machine-to-machine communication. Whether through web, sensors, networking or other means, devices are alerted of each other and act automatically in correspondence.

For example a smart, connected business could provide you with real-time reporting and predictive analytics, manage your workforce and customer data, integrate eCommerce with in-store, and all in one seamless platform. Platforms, like a next generation Point of Sale, aren’t just a future concept but available for today’s small businesses to have a competitive edge. In fact, BI Intelligence has closely tracked the industry, reporting that approximately $6 trillion will be spent on connected solutions in the next year with businesses leading the way in adoption

What’s the value of a connected business?

Investing in connected technology is an investment in your business. It’s cyclical – new technology drives data-driven decisions and data-driven decisions drive innovation in technology. This allows you to continuously make informed decisions, at any time.

Having a connected business gives you access to a wealth of data, automates operations, and provides you with in-depth reporting. Not to mention it speeds up operations and workforce productivity. When different technologies are able to communicate, actions can be performed instantaneously and seamlessly.

What should you look for before embracing this technology?

Is it secure?

Security should be at the forefront of any decision making. The damages of an unsafe system can be staggering, Security Magazine reported that the average cost of recovery from SMB data breaches is $36,000 and can even lead to a loss of up to $50,000. When you’re moving mountains of data in a high-velocity environment, there are a number of vulnerabilities that can expose themselves.

Which security must-haves should be enforced in your architecture? Ensure PCI compliance with a Point-to-Point encrypted device, which requires organizations to increase controls around cardholder data in order to safely process payments and reduce credit card fraud. That data goes directly to the processor, never touching a Point of Sale or middle man.   

What is support like?

All technology needs support, whether it’s the setup, expansion on the product’s capabilities, or fixing something that isn’t working. With this in mind, it’s key that you’re not just buying into a product but a support team as well.

You could require support’s assistance at anytime, so ensure that the company offers 24/7 assistance. Your needs will differ from those of other clients, so knowing that there is a dedicated team to support your vertical and size of company will ensure that the you receive expert advice.

Is it scalable?

Every small business’ goal is to grow, either in revenue, customer base, locations, or all of the above, so your technology should grow with you. Many new technologies are highly adaptive and predictive, enabling you to run at your best with a supportive architecture for increased volume and industry pivots.

What makes connected technology so scalable is its inherent capability to grow and change as the business does. In the advent of open API (Application Program Interface), your platform can communicate with an unlimited amount of integrations, making you agile, and saving you time and money. For example, with an open API Point of Sale platform, you can streamline your services from accounting and inventory to sales reporting and customer data.

Is it customized?

No business is one size fits all. Your technology shouldn’t be either. Connected technology can be personalized to fit the very specifications of your business and your customers. Working with a platform that is interoperable with many different options, allows you to be flexible and work with the right equipment for your volume and what you’re selling.

Infosys finds that 86% of consumers say personalization plays a role in their purchasing decisions. As much as a platform should be a fit for your business, it should provide a personalized experience for your customers.

 

Am I getting increased ROI with this purchase?

The last and most important question to ask yourself before buying a connected platform is, am I getting a return on the investment? Technology can be expensive and time-consuming and not all systems offer a seamless experience. So ask yourself where you are wasting resources and identify speed and efficiency hiccups in your current operations. Assign a number to each issue and measure the costs and benefit. Understand that cost and benefit can be intangible, including the time spent on non-priority tasks and number of staff required to run your business.

Your technology should not just be built to improve your business today, but also be able to help improve your business five years from now. Alleviate the stresses of a small business by implementing a robust, comprehensive platform that will pay you back ten fold.

 

Caitlin Stanley is Revel Systems Social Media Specialist. Revel Systems is based in San Francisco with the mission of disrupting and modernizing the state of commerce by providing businesses of every size the tools they need to thrive. Revel works to keep business owners ahead of the game by innovating the Point of Sale market with a quick, intuitive, and secure iPad-based Point of Sale platform.

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Clinton Dugan

Clinton leads the SEO team at Kabbage. With over 8 years of SEO experience, Clinton has led SEO campaigns for large enterprises and small businesses. He enjoys getting to know small business owners and learning about the marketing challenges they face. When not optimizing the Kabbage website - you can find him, hanging with his wife and goldendoodle or enjoying a pour of bourbon!

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