A FAILURE to embrace technology is stunting the growth of SMEs and contributing to their failure, according to Chris Rothwell, partner development group manager for Microsoft, speaking at Santander’s Breakthrough Box last week.
“Even if your business doesn’t use tech, your customers do. The vast majority of reviews are posted online and those sites are great sources of feedback, and a key to improvement.”
Even email is dating fast. Young people consider it an inefficient method of intra-business communication compared with social media. “Threads on secure instant messaging services like Yammer allow the exchange of ideas to flow faster and easier. Large companies like British Airways are also recognising social media’s potential to create a flatter structure, with cabin crew able to give feedback and recommendations to executives from the frontline.”
Mobile sales facilities are another area which SMEs can no longer afford to ignore. “People are using phones to conduct more complex operations,” explains Rothwell, with a third of job applications now made from mobile devices. “Your mobile site needs to look as good as your desktop site and have a user friendly interface. Too many have tiny text fields and unresponsive buttons which put customers off.”
Internal efficiency can be improved easily, says Rothwell. “Microsoft’s Delve matches documents you’re working on to similar ones which your colleagues have produced, eliminating overlap and allowing expertise to be shared.”
Data management is becoming a measure by which businesses can be differentiated, Rothwell believes. “SMEs which utilise data effectively will be able to use graphs to track and measure their performance. And predictive analytics will provide managers with the insight necessary to understand their business better.”