For busy small business owners, interconnected devices, apps and networks are vital to streamlining work and services, reducing administration time and improving efficiency. But technology decisions are often made individually. The business owner solves one problem at a time, choosing the best or most powerful individual product or service for the specific task or need, without considering how it relates to a complex ecosystem of technologies across the business.
If your business relies on multiple pieces of technology intended to fulfil separate tasks or goals, it means greater complexity, an increased risk of incompatibility, weak or inefficient processes and all the extra work that comes with maintaining separate systems. You may have solved one set of problems only to create a whole new set to solve.
So where’s the best place to start? Aligning business goals with technology goals is a great first step. What are your business’ long and short-term needs when it comes to technology? Consider everything from payroll to POS, communications to customer service, emails to e-commerce. These applications are dependent on each other and should be able to communicate with each other as part of an interconnected system. (Click to see the full infographic below.)
For example, the purchase of a new printer might solve one specific problem (printing), but it can also be a part of broader workflows. If the printer connects to your office network and is compatible with the apps you and your team use on their computers and devices, entire workflows can be designed and improved. Imagine printing directly from within an app on your smartphone instead of being forced to download and transfer the document to a different device to connect to the printer.
The same goes for a new piece of accounting software. If you choose software that can integrate with your website’s e-commerce platform, Point of Sales system or inventory management system, you might be able to automate the transfer of information between systems without a lot of manual data entry.
Plan your ideal workflows and then select the components that can work together to make them possible. When even routine tasks we now take for granted are dependent on a number of connected technologies working together, you need to treat each as an equally important part of the whole.