In this article, Jesper Frederiksen looks at how small companies can make themselves appear bigger in the marketplace to compete with larger rivals through the use of innovative technology.
Gone are the days when small businesses lagged behind their bigger peers when it came to business process and technology implementation. Technology is advancing at a rate of knots with new software empowering small businesses to streamline operations and maximise efficiency. As a result, customers are now enjoying exceptional service from smaller and cheaper providers, giving rise to a number of ‘tiny giants’ in business who are achieving competitive advantage – not by scale, but rather through innovation, speed and agility.
Working on the move
Software as a Service (SaaS), the subscription-based software service model, is one such innovation that acts as a business leveller, supporting a mobile workforce in real-time. Small businesses can get the edge on larger competitors by adopting SaaS models; with smaller staff numbers, implementation can be rapid with all staff that work on the move capable of handling business no matter where they are, from a mobile or tablet device. When all staff are capable of working anytime, anywhere, customers can enjoy round the clock service. The model also allows even further costs to be cut when integrated with a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative.
Staff can use their personal devices to work, allowing small businesses to avoid spending unnecessary cash on mobile hardware. Organisations can also keep up with the pace of change when it comes to the newest technology. Consumers always want the latest, fastest gadgets, meaning an effective BYOD policy puts the upgrade in the hands of the employee while avoiding the need to regularly refresh outdated hardware – all helping to keep smaller businesses at the cutting edge.
Avoid global headaches
Small businesses actually enjoy greater agility when it comes to technology implementation, as they avoid the need for global deployments. The software can be rolled out swiftly and in a cost-efficient manner, while larger rivals face more of a headache when it comes to cross-border deployments among numerous offices and multiple staff. This speed of deployment can directly impact speed of business, with smaller organisations leapfrogging their competitors and picking up valuable business opportunities.
Security as a concern for businesses large and small
Software advances also allow small business to compete with large organisations in one critical aspect: security. Storing critical data on your own can prove risky and costly. Investing in SaaS technology that keeps your business-critical documents secure at all times is a wise investment; when confidential data is concerned, no corners should be cut. The benefit for a small business in using modern technology is that it keeps its documents as safe as they would be for a global conglomerate or bank. Previously it was costly for small businesses to maintain such levels, but cloud-based Digital Transaction Management (DTM) technology has changed this. Organisations can now handle all their documents through a single digital platform, allowing greater compliance and security, whether large or small.
Advanced security is also a vital priority as it makes smaller businesses a viable proposition for enterprises to work with. For business partnerships or as a way in to big deals, larger enterprises will only be willing to work with organisations they know to be secure. If a small business wants to grow, these partnerships can prove crucial. Therefore a security investment can prove its ROI very quickly indeed.
Small businesses also need to be aware of the upcoming EU Data Regulation change expected to come into place this year. The directive will require greater security measurements to be in place for small businesses handling personal customer data, with a single regulatory framework in place across EU member states. The regulation is split into two areas, regulation and directive. Regulation deals with the storage of bulk customer data whilst directive describes how to manage criminal penalties in the unfortunate result of a security breach. To avoid the latter, data encryption will prove to be a vital component to ensure compliance – another reason why investment in DTM technology can save your business time and money in the long term.
Staying ahead in the user experience game
It’s not just in the back-office where technology can help small businesses become tiny giants. Due to differences in business size, user experience for small business products can be better than those of larger organisations. Small organisations can rapidly adapt product offerings following customer feedback, whilst larger organisations are often locked into an existing product due to lengthy review processes and legacy software. Small businesses enjoy greater agility which their customers value. When they feel their concerns are being met, customers are more likely to remain loyal and come back for return business.
Technological advances are helping small businesses appear larger than they are and, as the business rolls in as a result, we’ll soon see these companies losing the ‘small’ moniker for good as they grow and expand.
Jesper Frederiksen is managing director of EMEA at DocuSign.