From desktop computers to proprietary software, it is more important than ever for businesses to have the right technology in place.
Where 20 years ago technology may have merely assisted with business functions, now it is fundamental to them. The choice of powerful hardware, as well as software that can help you market yourself, sell your product, manage your staff effectively, and run a tight back office, is staggering. The advancement of the technology behind the programmes means more and more sophisticated solutions over time too.
In this piece, we look at the business technology examples employed by three small business owners.
SEO agency Type A Media deals with mid-sized businesses, building their content and digital PR strategies. Ross Tavendale, managing director at the company, says that the hardware the company uses includes the latest and best MacBook Pros with a USB C-powered screen. The reason behind this choice is optimised productivity.
‘We need a lot of computing power for the data we use,’ Tavendale says. ‘There have been studies that show that after a break in concentration it can take ten minutes to regain focus; if you’re waiting for things to load or keep having programmes crash that’s days of lost time each year.’
Tavendale rates the most essential piece of tech the company uses as Bose QC 35 noise cancelling headphones. He says that, when the headphones were given out, internal chat on Slack (the company’s messaging programme of choice) dropped 80 per cent. The company also uses analytics service RescueTime on employees’ machines to monitor productivity of the team, with the productivity score going from 60 to 82 per cent on utilising the headphones.
“As a small team we are able to do the work of a much larger team; we have the tools, software and APIs to do it”
In terms of software the company employs, web and mobile application Asana is used to power the company’s workflow and help involve clients in the work being doing for them and assist with collaboration. Slack is an instant messaging tool that keeps the company connected to clients at all times, while Google Drive ensures that all documents are in the cloud and easily accessible by everyone internally, with back-ups and version control.
The company also uses software tools like digital marketing toolkit SEMrush and Majestic. ‘These help us do our jobs more efficiently and cut out processing and researching time,’ Tavendale says.
Headspace, a meditation app, is installed on all of the phones of its team. ‘We pay them £5 for every time they meditate and double it if they get a 90 day streak.’
In total, it cost £10,000 for all the hardware with the company spending about £2,000 a month on software, but it’s all worth the outlay for Tavendale. ‘As a small team we are able to do the work that would usually be reserved for a much larger team as we have the tools, software and APIs to do our jobs much more quickly and effectively,’ he says.
Tackling a high volume of emails
Graeme Blenkinsopp, managing director and managing partner of Wisemove Land and Property Consultants, says that while his business is doing well, this means the company is under pressure to do more while maintaining the quality of service provided to new and existing customers.
Blenkinsopp receives between 150 and 200 client emails a day, and replying to them by typing would be a ‘horrendous and time-consuming task’, he says. He uses Dragon, a desktop speech recognition software that allows him to reply to emails in detail in less than half the time, simply by dictating.
‘I believe that the performance the programme affords us benefits our customers, because customer service is often about speed and responsiveness and Dragon gives me the ability to be agile and for our customers to get an answer quickly,’ he says. ‘I think customers recognise and appreciate that level of response.’
“Having networked computers is a must for the work completed by software company Pandle”
Each day, Blenkinsopp sets himself a task to ensure that when he leaves for the evening, there are no emails left unanswered and the software helps him achieve that goal. ‘Now I can easily master hundreds of emails in a week, and core to this is the programme’s accuracy. I often experience accuracy rates of 99 per cent, which dramatically reduces the time spent correcting any errors.’
‘Speech recognition doesn’t just help boost my productivity, but it suits the way I work,’ he says. ‘Also, less pressure is put on the company’s secretarial team as they are not burdened by my emails. This gives them time to work on more client-facing activities which helps with overall customer satisfaction.’
Having networked computers is a must for the work completed by software company Pandle. The company’s CEO Lee Murphy says, ‘We use software that enables us to communicate with our colleagues no matter where we are in the world and in real time.
Also, having a CRM system in place to record, monitor and evaluate users has been invaluable once the numbers ramped up to a certain level, he adds.
‘Though it’s very easy to go for the cheaper options when setting up, investing in tech you are going to use day in and day out is the only way to ensure your business can run efficiently.
‘We have found that areas we might have used budget tech in are usually the areas we can expect more problems.’