Today’s small businesses operate in a climate of connectivity.
In the past, business communities were connected by industry and geography. With new technology, came digital business communities where physical boundaries are no longer barriers to profitable business relationships. Today, small businesses are able to use smart business tools to play on the big stage.
Within an evolving business app environment, small businesses can connect and utilize new tools in their day-to-day operations without the usual upfront cost.. 63% of business apps used by small businesses are for core business activities. This reflects a shift in how small business owners work. Specifically, more work is being done in the cloud and on mobile devices.
However, 41% of small business owners believe that there are too many apps to choose from and are unsure which apps are best suited to their business. And with more apps being developed than ever before – it can be overwhelming just trying to keep up.
So how does a small business make sense of this new way of working?
Customer data and the cloud
Many small businesses are tracking accounting and payroll data using apps and cloud-based software. However, they lag behind when it comes to managing and utilizing their customer data. For instance, 80% of hospitality and retail businesses are still using legacy POS systems. POS should be the source of sales and customer insights, but legacy systems make it difficult to collate, analyze and use customer data. As a result, only 11% are confident that they can drive actionable insights from their data. Also, many small business owners are still not convinced of the benefits of the cloud in supporting their business goals..
Customer preferences are changing, loyalty is dropping and margins are being squeezed. Small businesses need to be utilizing their customer data now more than ever. Cloud-based apps increasingly make this data easier to access, track and manage. Smart tools such as CRM software that makes it easy for small businesses to get actionable customer insights. Tools that integrate with important internal systems to track in-store metrics such as sales. foot traffic or the impact of promotions. The goal being to seamlessly connect customer and sales data both in-store and online.
Marketing software that combines sales data with customer data to create loyalty programmes that drive sales. Email automation is often a great start where CRM and email workflows work together to create segmented email campaigns and provide tailored promotional offers.
The changing nature of business
Small businesses are able to adapt faster. One of their advantages is their ability to change and innovate. They use technology as an enabler of new ideas, processes and innovation, but are able to move much quicker than larger businesses. Cloud technology has opened up new ways to store and share information and can facilitate innovation or prompt change. Business apps have offered up new tools to help businesses communicate, increase productivity, utilize their data and so much more. But business owners don’t want every feature under the sun. They just want the tools to make running their business easier.
For this to happen they need to be clear about these three things:
-What is the business need?
-Is the tool being used regularly and effectively?
-What is the ROI?
Business owners who are clear on these three questions will have greater clarity about evaluating the types of apps that are beneficial to ongoing business performance and those that aren’t.
Utilizing customer data for greater success
As businesses start using more-and-more apps, the app environment increases in complexity across a multitude of platforms. But making sense of this data can be a real headache. Time-poor business owners need an app environment that works together towards common business goals, not consume more of their time.
Companies such as Google, Xero and Facebook have embraced this approach, enabling their partners to integrate and create seamless connections between apps. In turn, customers benefit from an app environment that simplifies, not complicates daily business tasks. Tools such as Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri pave the way for a future where ‘appless environments’ enable people to perform tasks without ever having to open an app.
While this is still a few years away, small business owners need better ways to make sense of all of their data. Data that is currently being underutilized.
Most business owners actively track their accounting and financial information, but don’t know how (or don’t have the time) to effectively use their customer data to improve sales and drive loyalty. The right business tools provide small businesses with the potential to unlock the power of customer data. However, this data has the propensity to complicate rather than simplify running your business.
In order to combat complication, business owners need to use the right tools and ensure they are being used effectively to achieve common business goals.
What’s next for small businesses?
Aider uses a powerful AI engine to help you digest data from your app environment and make better business decisions. Aider has been built for small business owners using your existing tools to provide you with the information you need (and nothing you don’t). It helps you save time, access key data and perform business tasks on-the-go. Google, Alexa and Siri are paving the way for ‘appless working.’ Aider simply provides the vehicle by which the road can be used and can provide directions to the right destination. A destination where your business data is accessible, easy to understand and actionable.
Tools such as Aider’s business assistant makes it easy to find customer, sales and business data. Simply ask Aider using voice or chat and receive an instant answer.