Small businesses are crucial to the global economy, however, it can be difficult to grow and succeed in today’s competitive markets. In fact, a study conducted last year found that over half of small businesses in the UK fail to survive longer than five years. There are a lot of challenges that can inhibit their success; obvious ones, such as gaining new customers, managing increasing costs, or securing repeat business, as well as more unusual ones, such as gaining access to the skill pool, or having the experience to elevate an idea into an achievable business goal.
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How small businesses manage increasingly complex processes they face is key to business growth. Many don’t realise the impact that relying on inefficient processes, which makes them slow to react and vulnerable to human error, can have on the bottom line. For example, the inability to access documents remotely or from a mobile device, fragmented information silos, or uncontrolled paper trails, are all very big problems in a world where people expect immediate access to information wherever they are. Businesses are subsequently turning to include digitisation, the cloud and multi-channel communications, all of which, when managed correctly, can provide long-term benefits.
Investing in digital
It’s fair to say that today’s businesses are operating in a world where digital technology is increasingly expected. Take communications, for example. While physical mail is still an important channel to communicate with customers, the last decade has undoubtedly seen a shift towards more digital channels. More and more customers are choosing to be contacted via email, social media and everything in between, and it’s crucial that businesses have a well-managed, multi-channel communication strategy in place that considers their customers’ preferences. Failing to do this risks alienating a large number of customers and, subsequently, lost business.
Aside from customer demand, digital technology offers companies very real business-growing benefits. One of the biggest is that it can provide a much more direct route to the intended recipient. Indeed, digital communication can reach its destination instantly. The speed with which customer queries are resolved or invoices and contracts are sent can be the difference in securing repeat business and prompt payment, or losing out to a competitor.
“Going digital also increases the accuracy and reliability of communications”
Going digital also increases the accuracy and reliability of communications. The processing, preparation and sending of documents can all by automated, removing the opportunity for human error. Moreover, removing manual processes also decreases the burden on employees, who are then able to spend their time on other vital business growing activities.
The cloud, in particular, has the power to simplify the way businesses run their business. While investing in the cloud may seem daunting, it provides very real benefits. It grants access to enterprise applications at a fraction of the price and mostly without the need for any costly and time consuming IT services. Additionally, it lifts geographical constraints and improves efficiency. For example, documents can be saved remotely and securely making them accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. By failing to adopt cloud based technology, organisations will undoubtedly find themselves one step behind everyone else.
The cloud is also useful when it comes to archiving. Firstly, archiving in the cloud is more cost-effective. Paper records soon fill cardboard boxes and filing cabinets, which are then banished to the basement or the corner of the office. This takes up valuable space that is being paid for and could be better utilised elsewhere. Furthermore, by removing the need for physical onsite storage space it enables businesses to only buy the storage capacity needed, providing greater pricing flexibility.
With archiving key to remaining compliant with government regulations, the cloud makes it easier for businesses by passing a lot of the requirements and responsibility to the Cloud Service Provider (CSP). This is particularly useful for smaller companies who don’t always have the time or resources to make sure they are adhering to today’s stringent regulations. For example, the regulations require businesses to have a certain level of record security, a cost which is picked up by them if records are physically stored onsite. With the cloud, however, security is part of the CSP package, thus ensuring compliance without any additional actions needed.
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Digital and cloud technology is playing an important role in helping businesses overcome some of the traditional barriers to growth. Faced with strong competition, many new or small businesses face a long, hard battle to establish themselves, which is why it’s so important that they have the most efficient processes in place. Being ‘digital ready’ is something all companies need to be thinking about – according to Gartner, all businesses will soon be digital businesses. By taking this step and implementing digital and cloud technology, businesses can reap the rewards of an efficient, streamlined communication strategy and be in the best position possible to overcome the odds and grow.