Published on July 8th, 2022
Technology is more than an added convenience or a way to automate a repetitive process. Leaders who recognize tech as a way to transform how their businesses run tend to leverage its capabilities most effectively.
These business owners and directors also realize that technology’s abilities sometimes reach their limits. Hardware and software solutions may become outdated and sluggish or no longer align with a company’s needs.
Nonetheless, balancing tech’s range of possibilities and business requirements involves financial resources and the right timing.
This balance can include more gray areas for small businesses when consumer solutions might do the trick. Consumer options might seem more accessible and less intimidating or expensive.
Yet evaluating how well technology meets business objectives and facilitates internal processes can often expose gaps. As tech and your company’s needs evolve, it may be time to upgrade. Here are four small business technologies to consider replacing.
1. Wi-Fi Networks And Solutions
A small shop or office just needs a simple Wi-Fi connection and router, right? It’s a line of reasoning that seems to be headed in the correct direction. Purchasing an enterprise solution is going to be too much.
You’ll never use most of the features, it’ll be too complicated to manage, and it’ll be far too expensive. Plus, there’s really not enough online traffic and activity to install a bunch of access points on the ceilings.
Getting a basic connection and equipment looks like the better solution. That is, until you suddenly realize it’s not.
Your router has limited security protection, and there are weak coverage spots. You also don’t have the tools to manage and monitor who’s connecting to your Wi-Fi and when.
Replacing a consumer-grade connection and equipment with an adaptive small business Wi-Fi solution helps fill many of those holes.
AI-driven, adaptive WiFi learns your peak usage periods and where you need the most bandwidth. AI-based monitoring tools work to keep your company’s Wi-Fi secure, even when you’re not there.
You can also separate your network into different zones for guests, employees, and back-office functions. Such solutions allow you to gather customer insights, manage employees’ online activities, and protect your most crucial devices and web-based applications.
2. On-Premise Software And Applications
The practice of only using a company’s software onsite is fading. In part, this development is linked to an increase in remote and hybrid work schedules.
Employees have to access applications, data, and network-level resources from home or offsite locations. Virtual private network access can help, but such services are more or less designed for occasional, limited use.
The more employees you have on a VPN, the more bogged down it becomes unless you purchase additional capacity.
Software vendors are also increasingly moving toward a subscription/user-based model. It’s no longer standard to have perpetual licenses assigned to individual devices.
About 53% of software companies plan to move to a subscription-based model by 2023. This represents a shift toward managing software access and licenses through cloud-based services.
Cloud-based services and applications offer several advantages over perpetual, device-based solutions. They take up fewer hardware resources, such as onsite servers.
Cloud-based software provides additional flexibility since employees can access and work on files from any device with an internet connection. Additionally, fewer IT responsibilities fall on the shoulders of small business owners. Service vendors handle most of the work for you.
3. Outdated Or Aging Hardware
While desktops and larger point-of-sale systems still exist, that doesn’t mean they’re best for your business. Swapping those out for smaller, mobile devices can increase flexibility. Less complicated hardware with fewer parts is also easier to learn, manage, and maintain.
A POS system with a monitor, a separate keyboard, and a USB-connected card reader requires more troubleshooting. When something goes wrong, the team’s got to take time to isolate the root cause.
The solution might be to replace one of the parts, which you probably don’t have on hand. Meanwhile, customers are inconvenienced, and sales are potentially lost.
POS solutions that use a single device, a web-based app, or mobile tech like tablets are less complicated. They’re easier for customers and employees to use and learn.
Hanging on to older devices might extend your technology budget. But it could negatively impact other contributors to your bottom line, such as revenue and productivity.
4. Emails And Spreadsheets
Small businesses are often prone to relying on emails and spreadsheets too much. These applications are readily available, and thus they become the only tools for managing projects and internal communications. Unfortunately, you’re expecting simple, asynchronous applications to perform complex jobs.
A spreadsheet might outline what needs to be done by whom on specific dates. However, spreadsheets can become static and are often unhelpfully centralized.
You’ve usually got one point person who’s somehow responsible for finding out where tasks are at and updating the sheet.
It’s easy for this information to get out of date, making the sheet minimally useful for keeping things organized and on track. Likewise, emails don’t accommodate real-time communication and are difficult to sort through.
While emails and spreadsheets have a place, collaboration and project management software can do things these basic apps can’t.
For starters, collaboration and project management apps are distributed. Everyone on the team has access and can update assignment statuses, ask questions, and forward deliverables for approval.
Project management software also helps small businesses track project-related expenses and work hours. Accountability becomes a team effort.
Upgrading Small Business Technology
When it comes to small businesses and technology, owners can find themselves between a rock and a hard place. You either spend too much of your budget on big business solutions or settle for consumer options.
Thankfully, examining technology as a vehicle to accomplish objectives and optimize operations can reveal solutions that are the right fit.
Small business Wi-Fi networks, cloud-based applications, simplistic yet flexible devices, and collaborative project management software are some technologies to consider.
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