30 March 2022
Expansion & Improvement
The past decade has seen huge changes in the evolution of technology. The emergence of cloud technology and business apps has revolutionised what’s possible from your company’s business systems. Even the smallest of businesses has access to online accounting, automated bookkeeping and AI-driven solutions. But are you making the most of the tech that’s available?
Jason Mathew-Mammen explains the value of the latest in business tech, and why riding this wave of innovation could well give you the competitive edge you need as a company.
The impact of remote-working technology
Pre-Covid, remote working tech did exist, but homeworking was still seen as something of a perk. Now working from home, and being able to log into our systems and networks, is something many want as standard.
Stamford University ran a two-year study that found there was a boost of productivity from working from home, compared to working from the office. People working from home work longer days, and there’s less attrition, fewer breaks and fewer sick days.
The only reason we could make that move to home working over lockdown was because of the tech we now have. You have cloud, online working, Microsoft Teams and Slack etc. giving us the foundations for remote working as a distributed workforce.
Cloud and the need for increased security
Being able to work in the cloud has changed everything. It’s an evolution in business technology that really has been a game-changer, whether you’re a big corporation or a small business.
Security has had to change and improve so people can safely work from home. It used to be that only large, well-funded companies could afford the high-level security and encryption that was needed. Now that kind of security is open to everyone.
As a small business owner, you can use something like GoTo (formerly Log Me In) to have remote access to whichever parts of the business you want. You don’t need to be tech savvy anymore to work remotely and safely access your data or your systems.
Cloud accounting and the building your app stack
Accounting is one area which has benefited massively from moving to the cloud. Even the smallest business can now have complete control over its finances.
Ten years ago, barely anyone knew what Xero was and Sage had only just started moving their desktop systems over to the cloud. But in 2022, Xero is now one of the standard accounting platforms for online accounting and a tool for so much more as well.
There are many fintech software companies that have used Xero’s open API to create an app and integrate small business users with their accounts and all the other Xero tools. There are over 1,000 apps in the app store now, and that’s allowed smaller businesses to access tools that only big companies with large budgets could previously afford. Now anyone can do it and that’s revolutionised the whole industry.
Improving the day-to-day running of the business
There are so many possibilities for improving your business with the right tech, software and apps. But to get the best from the tech, you do need to update your mindset and outlook
There are companies and accountants that don’t want to change. But the young, tech-savvy entrepreneur won’t accept that. When you have the tech working well for you, that makes entrepreneurialism so much easier.
It’s easier to set up a company and enter the market as a digital business.
It’s easier to manage your finances and keep on top of cashflow
It’s easier to manage your projects, track performance and get the stats you need
It’s easier to connect to ePOS systems, inventory apps and other operational tools.
By embracing tech, you make the running of the business far more efficient. And, importantly, by going digital you’re also recording your business data straight into your systems.
Tech has levelled the playing field, so smaller businesses can compete directly with the bigger organisations – and that is opening up so many new opportunities.
How AI is reshaping business
The application of technology has changed business processes in so many industries and has become an imperative strategy for those wanting to maintain a competitive edge.
There are many things AI can do using all the data you hold on your systems. In the sales enablement space, AI is used to track buyers and predict their intent to purchase by looking at their search patterns, what they view and open, and more.
Machine learning and AI can help produce insights and present it in a way that staff and management can utilise and take action on. For example, your marketing team can use the sales data from AI together with other metrics such as social media clicks to track progress and target certain markets/audiences. All this data can be used to create management packs that track all sorts of non-financial information that may otherwise be an unknown.
The amount of data available is greater than ever before. Businesses can track online journeys and habits of their target demographics and use these insights to target ads directly to them for greater conversion rates. Since you aren’t limited to a physical geographic area the same way that traditional billboards or newspaper ads may be, you can also expand your reach further.
Riding the tech wave to new opportunities
The rate at which tech is adapting and mutating is incredibly fast. You can’t help but be swept away on this tidal wave of progress. The question is whether you and your business are ready for it or not, and what the big benefits might be:
You have two choices:
Do you ride the wave of tech innovation and let technology drive your success?
Or do you get swept under the surface and left behind, missing out on the key benefits?
The bottom line is that you have to get on board this wave of change at some point. If you don’t, your competitive advantage is very likely to be taken away.
Once you go through a digital transformation process, you have a huge amount of useful data at your fingertips. I see so many businesses that record this information, but then don’t actually use it. That’s why you need to work with an accountant and look at this data more frequently.
With the data, you can ask important questions:
What’s our sales rate for the latest product?
How much are we spending in marketing?
Which areas are delivering the best return on that marketing?
You need that data to make good decisions. It’s like using a Fitbit when you go running to give yourself stats and data etc. Without it, you don’t know if you’re getting faster, or burning more calories. Business data tells you so much about how healthy the company is.
Getting over the fear factor
With so much technological change going on, it’s natural that some people will find the speed of change a bit daunting. But we have to get over that fear factor to reap the rewards.
Some business owners don’t see the value in changing to something new, and it’s that engrained old-school approach to tech that’s holding them back. They may have a filing system that works, but that only exists in their own head. If they get run down by a bus, that whole system can be lost.
To cope with the ongoing tide of change:
Change your mindset – being able to keep an open outlook to these tech changes and to see the potential value and benefits. This change is happening to make your business better, not to hold it back.
Go online and start learning – Udemy and YouTube have so many videos and online courses available. This means you can teach yourself the basics, improving your skills and putting that knowledge to good use in the business.
Find the best apps for the job – you can search for the right apps so easily. Do a Google search and find the app then do a free trial and see if it works for you. You must have that mindset of changing things and playing with things. It takes a while, but you do need that experience to get the most from tech.
Use social media to improve your reach and understanding – social media is such a big thing in 2022. There are so many groups and people you can follow on Twitter and Instagram etc. LinkedIn is a big one too, with professionals talking about big new topics like using tech and opening your eyes to new ideas and insights.
Move to cloud accounting and start automating your processes – moving to a cloud accounting platform like Xero makes so much sense. You get cloud backup and storage, easy access to your data and better ways, amazing apps and brilliant ways to collaborate with your team, accountant and advisers.
The efficient and productive ways we can work now using tech were unheard of ten years ago. It opens up the market and means that everyone can get on board – and that’s an amazing thing.
The main thing is to change your mindset and to embrace what tech can offer.
Helping you surf the technology wave
The choice you have is whether to ride the wave of new tech, or let it sink you. Learn the tech and implement it in your business and give yourself that advantage.
At Haines Watts Esher, we know that a business that embraces tech and digital is a more organised, efficient, productive and profitable business. If you need to understand where tech can make a difference, we’re happy to show you the ropes.
Talk to one of our advisers and see how tech could revolutionise your business