How Small Businesses Can Use Technology to Step Up Their Game

 

If you own a small business, you likely don’t want to stay small forever. But expanding involves a lot of foresight and great planning. While you might not have been able to anticipate a global pandemic, finding ways for your business to work both in office and remotely was made much more possible by technology. How can you use technology to help your office run more efficiently while you’re trying to grow? What are the best options for small businesses as they seek to expand?

Cloud Software

The cloud always sounds like a nebulous place, but it’s the future of storage. While it sounds like a not-real location, basically cloud storage is just sending data from your servers to another part of the internet for backup storage! This is a good thing—having a backup that you can reach from anywhere, even your phone, makes it possible to do work from where you are. Cloud backup protects your work and that of your team, and makes it equally accessible to all in the company while protecting it from hackers.

Managed IT Services

Small businesses need various IT services, including VOIP solutions, to function best. VOIP, or, Voice Over Internet Protocol, allows several calls to be going on at once. This includes conference calls and client calls from varied locations. Having the ability to use various locations for a VOIP call makes a difference. Your team can work together more closely, and be able to keep in contact, both with one another and with clientele.

Faster Internet

If your company depends upon the Cloud, VOIP, and other services which are necessary for modern business, you want to be able to do that business as effectively as possible. While things like dialup have gone the way of the dinosaurs, if you live in a rural area or smaller town, you might not have access to fiber internet yet. However, searching around and installing both the fastest available internet for your area, and rewiring your place of business with cables which can tolerate faster speeds, is essential.

No matter what industry, businesses need the internet and technology to be able to grow and prosper! Figure out what services are best for your business’s growth. Meanwhile, make sure you’ve got fast internet, Cloud storage, and that you’re all set up with the best IT services!

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The Best Ways to Use the Cloud for Your Business

To succeed in business, you need to keep up with the latest in technology. Cloud-based technology systems are crucially helpful in managing and organizing your business documents. There are so many ways to take advantage of the cloud to benefit your business. 

The Ultimate Backup

The most important reason to utilize a cloud system is to have a backup. In the event of a server failure or other unexpected data loss, having a cloud backup system will make sure you don’t lose any important files. Companies that suffer large data losses are at a higher risk of bankruptcy than companies that don’t. Using cloud-based storage for everything from your most important documents to day-to-day communications is the only way to protect your company from major data losses. Cloud-based storage systems can also provide excellent security to prevent hacking.

Keeps Everything Organized

Another benefit of using a cloud-based storage system is that it is easier to keep everything organized. You can set up separate folders by teams, projects, or other types of categories. This allows everyone in your company to keep their work organized in the appropriate folders so everyone can find their needed documents. Because everyone who needs to can access everything, your business will always be synced up. It is easy to make changes and move documents to different folders as necessary if your organization system changes. 

Easily Share Files

Cloud-based storage systems also make it easy to share files with those who are inside of and outside of your organization. You can control permissions on documents and folders, so privileged information can remain private. In addition, you can make sure that anyone who needs access to a document or folder can easily receive access through the permissions you allow. Cloud-based storage systems also allow you to decide who has access to edit or view documents. Another benefit is you can allow those you are working with outside of your organization the permission to upload files to your cloud system. This allows for easy collaboration with members inside and outside of your organization.

There are so many benefits to using a cloud-based system for your business, from staying organized to avoiding large data losses, cloud-based organization systems make many aspects of running your business that much easier. Making the most of your cloud-based system will make it easier to manage your business successfully.

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How Technology Can Improve Efficiency in Business

Technology has endless potential. In particular, it can help all sorts of industries increase the efficiency of their processes. As you think about how to help your business be more productive, there are a variety of different factors you should be considering. Here are just a few reasons why you should invest in time-saving technology for your business.

Faster Production Times

Using various kinds of technology involves automating processes that if done by an individual person would take much longer. By automating processes like ordering, packaging, and shipping, your business will be able to sell a lot more inventory a lot faster.

As you think about the best kinds of technology to invest in, there are a lot of industry-related factors to keep in mind. Buying the wrong kind of software, or one that doesn’t fit your business processes, is a waste of valuable resources. Do your research and think carefully about your company’s goals and needs to land on the right option for you.

Lean Manufacturing

Using various kinds of technology can also help you with lean manufacturing. As opposed to trying to spot errors or areas where productivity is lower on your own, technology can help you identify the best places where improvement can be made. Ultimately, the main purpose of lean manufacturing is to reduce waste produced. With technology, you can make sure you are utilizing every scrap of material or can devise methods to prevent that waste from occurring in the first place.

Less Errors

There are so many business processes that can easily result in errors. In the simplest things like ordering at a restaurant, a waiter might write down an order wrong, whereas if people are able to submit their own orders through a computer there won’t be any mistakes in the ordering process. Using technology in business will simply reduce errors made over all areas of your work.

With more complicated things like medical records or legal files, making mistakes can mean a lot of time lost trying to comb through the records to find and correct the errors. Having automation for some of these tedious things will reduce the chance of error significantly.

Figuring out the right approach to solving some of your business concerns will vary significantly from situation to situation. Depending on where you are at, you might want to start your move to technology with simple things like an electric cash register. If your company already is using various kinds of technology, consider having a professional come in and help you identify specific places where further technology could help you be more efficient.

Trying to stay up-to-date with technology? Our podcast provides regular updates on gadgets, games, and tech!

How Robotics Will Usher in a New Industrial Revolution

The future of industrialization is robotics and mechatronics, and that means big changes are in process. This can cause a lot of stress to workers as things are further mechanized. Some are afraid of the robotics themselves, as they go through retraining. Some are worried about their jobs disappearing. However, neither need be true, if the concepts are understood and workers willing to lean in and learn. How is robotics the new industrial revolution?

Fewer Workers in Harm’s Way

Your workers know the structure and strictures of their work and how the protocols work for what they have right now. When presented with a new challenge with completely separate protocols, and with also the ability to cause damage to life and limb, it can be frightening for them. However, when properly trained, your workers can be safer using robotics. Any process, if safety protocols are not followed can be problematic, but robotics can take some of the most dangerous parts out of their repertoire at work, while leaving plenty of work for all.

Boost Mass Production

Mass production has been an important part of manufacturing since Henry Ford pioneered it. Your team is probably more than familiar with mass production by a streamlined assembly-line style process. As assembly lines changed in the industrial revolution in the early 1900’s, people were worried there wouldn’t be a boost in sales to go along with the faster production. This transformation of production created not only new careers, but new products and plenty of sales. Likewise, the shift to robotics industrialization is causing the industry to change in many ways, but mass production is likewise increasing.

Increase Jobs in the Workforce

Ok, your big concern: will there be a reduction in workforce? Yes and no. Initial reports show that robotics will decrease jobs…initially. But, this is only in the least skilled work. Most workers genuinely want to learn new skills and to be able to grow in their field. Those jobs will indeed grow over time. Some of the jobs which are in preparation are already available with more certification, much of which workers already desire to do to get increased wages.

Robots are more than just fun gimmicks in movies and television- they truly are the future of the economy! Your business will be transformed as well, in the next 20 years, due to robotics. The future looks wonderful, for both you and your team!

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Everyday Technology Solutions Every Business Needs

Technology has done much to improve everyone’s daily lives. However, there are many technology solutions that can specifically benefit businesses. By incorporating these technologies, you can help your business to run more effectively.

Cloud Software

Whether your team works remotely or in-person, it would be beneficial to use cloud software for collaboration. With the cloud, you can easily create and edit documents and share them with your team. It efficiently allows for collaboration and it helps to maintain consistency since everyone has access to the same documents. It can also be very cost efficient to use cloud software since you remove the need for any in-house storage at your business. No longer do you need to rely on paper documents that take up space and could become lost or damaged. Working in the cloud is an overall better option for your business. 

Communication Services

In order to run well, your business needs to be communicating. Fortunately, there are many services you can use to improve the communication in your business. Using an internal messaging system is a great way to keep everyone on the same page and avoid missing any messages. Having one channel to check is simply more effective. Additionally, you can use VOIP services. VOIP is a critical IT service that growing companies need to function better. With VOIP, you can have quality calls with your team via phone or computer. Examples of VOIP technology include most video call services. 

Artificial Intelligence

Many businesses have taken to using artificial intelligence (AI). AI is a great way to improve the efficiency of tasks. A common example of using AI in your business is to automate tasks. When you automate certain tasks, it frees up your time for other projects and priorities. Additionally, automated tasks help you to avoid any human error. These tasks are done well and you don’t need to dedicate any of your time or your employees’ time to them. Another way you can use AI in your business is on your website. Having an AI chatbot can provide quality customer service and direct your customers to much needed resources. These chatbots can handle more simple questions while reserving your customer service reps for more complex situations. 

There are many ways technology has helped to improve business practices. It would be in your best interest to incorporate certain technologies into your daily operations. You can improve the efficiency of your business as a whole.

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Tech Gadgets Your Business Needs

Technology is everywhere. Because of this, if your business falls behind in tech, it will likely fall behind in other areas. Technology makes your business efficient and operate more easily. You don’t have to buy every tech gadget out there, that can be costly and unnecessary. There are some tech gadgets though that you shouldn’t overlook.

Point of Sale System

A point-of-sale system helps in making transactions and keeping track of sales. Sales are much easier with a system in place because it can help streamline the payment process. Many systems will have credit or debit options, and you can still record a cash transaction. These systems also keep track of what is being sold, helping give you insightful data as to what your business should focus on from a consumer standpoint. These systems also can help in the inventory process as numbers can easily be plugged in, and each time a good is purchased it is recorded. The bonus is all of this is automated, so you don’t need to keep track of it by hand, but simply need to go into the system to find the information you need.

Security Cameras

Security cameras are a great investment for your business. With security cameras in place, you can mitigate risks as well as provide helpful data. Vandalism and break-ins will be reduced because people will not want to be caught on camera. There are certain places to put a security camera at your business for the best effect. They need to be on the outside of the building and visible so that they become a deterrent.  You can also utilize security cameras for other data, such as seeing who is coming and going throughout the day.

Digital Signage

Digital signage includes LED displays or projections that are helpful in many different settings and can be used for different reasons. Digital signage can be used to communicate to employees, to communicate to customers, to promote your brand or products, and to enhance customer service.  Digital signage is a great option because it is easy to update, can provide many different pieces of information, and it can provide a visual appeal to your business space.

Not all tech gadgets are helpful for you. Knowing what will be helpful for your unique business is part of the process. But utilizing technology can help your business run more smoothly, help mitigate risks, and help you be successful.

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Why You Should Upgrade Your Home to Renewable Energy

When it is time to update your home it can be difficult to decide what renovations are going to be most helpful to you. Generally speaking, the kinds of renovations that will help you to improve the efficiency of your home and add renewable energy options will make a big impact. Here are a few of the reasons why it is worthwhile to transition to renewable energy for your home upgrades.

Energy Savings

The biggest benefit of converting your home to renewable energy sources is that it will save you money. Instead of being dependent on the grid for your energy, you will be able to produce your own energy or use a more affordable option. If you live in a sunny climate, solar energy can provide for more than just your own energy needs. You can even sell back energy to the grid. In windy areas, you can use wind turbines to generate enough power for your home and save on energy costs overall.

Tax Benefits

One thing that can deter people from investing in renewable energy sources is the cost. And while the upfront cost can be expensive, you can get some of it back through tax benefits. Federal tax credits cover up to 26 percent of the cost of solar panels. That means that you will get back a significant portion of your investment once you clean your solar panels on your taxes. Many states also offer tax benefits for solar panels, so you can save on your state taxes as well.

Independence from the Grid

Investing in renewable energy will also give you independence from the grid. This means that if your area experiences a power outage, you will still be able to access power through your renewable energy source. You will also be able to avoid any price hikes that may occur with your local energy companies. And since you will be able to put in your own infrastructure you will not be reliant on the infrastructure that your area already has, which might be out-of-date or in need of repair

Investing in renewable energy now can help you financially and will make your home much more efficient. Renewable energy sources are becoming more affordable and can be a great addition to any house. Make the upgrade now so you can start enjoying the benefits it brings.

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How Technology is Improving Opportunities in Education

As the world continues to move more towards a dependency on technology, you should also learn how to incorporate technology into our education. By using technology to your advantage, you can teach more effectively. With technology combined with education, you can open new opportunities for the future.

Connecting Students to Information

One of the biggest changes to education since the internet became widely used is the access to information. With just a couple clicks, a student can easily find the answer to any question right at their fingertips. This is a major impact to how students can learn because they no longer have to spend time flipping through encyclopedias. Additionally, now students can be sure that they have the most updated information. The internet helps to level the field because if a group of students have internet access, they also can research the same information. However, it is also important for students to understand how to find reliable information.

Making Online Classes Possible

Technology provides a location where people can be joined together from all around the world. Not only does this allow you to communicate with someone thousands of miles away, but it also allows people to be linked together in a classroom setting. Someone from Taiwan can be attending classes for an educational institution in the United States. In cases where you are unable to attend classes in person, online classes allow you to get a quality education remotely. One downside to online education is the added distractions possible. Often students will take online classes at home or in their rooms where they can be reminded constantly of everything else they could be doing besides studying. From the instructing side, it is important to keep your students actively participating.

Access to Tools

The internet is a place where you can benefit from other teaching tools put online for your use. Aside from accessing information, you can share tools that have helped you teach concepts better and you can find tools from others. Video sharing is one example of an online tool that can be used to become more educated. You can find videos either on a video streaming service like YouTube, or live video calls from tools like Zoom. Online you can even find editing software or applications that can help you with math.

Technology has the power to transform education for the better. Once you know what technology is available to you online, you will be able to help yourself or your students accelerate the learning process.

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How Businesses Can Take the Lead on Renewable Energy Tech

Most business owners are excited about being at the forefront of their field, but there are other ways that you can lead the way. Investing in renewable energy for your business is a great way to come out ahead of the crowd while also making a positive impact on the world around you. As consumers are becoming more interested in the practices of the businesses they frequent, it is more important than ever to have a positive reputation, especially in terms of your energy use.

Divest from Fossil Fuels 

The first step in taking the lead on renewable energy is to distance yourself from fossil fuels. Through divestment, you decide to use more renewable energy sources and to stop relying on the fossil fuel industry. You may not be able to stop using all forms of fossil fuels initially, but by putting together a plan to slowly move to more renewable energy sources you can make a positive impact. Moving away from fossil fuels can help your reputation and eventually even save you money.

Source: https://www.greencentury.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Shortcomings.pdf 

Use Renewable Energy

Once you have decided to move away from fossil fuels, you need to start using more renewable energy sources. There are a variety of options from solar and wind power to using geothermal energy. There are a variety of solar energy companies available, like Rabe Hardware among others. Do your research so you can find a reputable company in your community that you can count on to help you meet your renewable energy goals and stand out from your competition.

Source: https://rabehardware.com/solar-systems-a-smart-business-investment/ 

Document the Benefits

One of the best things you can do to lead by example with your renewable energy is to document your experience and keep track of the benefits. When you use your company to show how renewable energy has been able to help you, you can encourage others to make the switch as well. Consider having regular blog posts about your energy use so people who visit your site can learn more about renewable energy. This can make a great impression and give you evidence to support your move forward.

Source: https://www.igs.com/energy-resource-center/energy-101/benefits-renewable-energy-use 

Renewable energy is the way of the future, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait to make it happen. You can start moving your business to more renewable energy sources right now and start seeing the benefits. With a strong commitment to the future, your business can lead the way to a better world.

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Common Tech Threats to Your Business

Because of COVID-19, there has been a sudden push to move the majority of your business online. Remote work has offered you more opportunities to work with different people and keep your monthly fees low. Though digital technology has certainly helped the business landscape as a whole, such rapid change has opened up gaping holes in every business’s digital infrastructure.

Some of these problems can easily be avoided. Others might be more sinister and deceptive. At worst, you could stand to lose your whole company and employee information. Here are the most common tech threats to your business and how to avoid them.

Phishing Attacks

Most people have probably faced a phishing scheme at least once in their life. They usually come in the form of sketchy emails asking for your information. On your personal email, these can usually be ignored through spam filters. But messages that are sent to your company email can be a little more subtle in their phishing techniques.

Do not send any confidential, personal, or sensitive information to a company until you can verify its authenticity. Phishers will often pose as another company you might be working with. However, the email address will be incorrect in some way. Most companies won’t ask you for this type of information unless you have talked with them first. Be especially careful if you do a lot of work on your phone since mobile devices don’t always display email addresses very well.

Malware

This is one of the more diabolical threats you should avoid. Malware is meant to infect computer software to steal information. There are several different kinds—some steal information from you without your knowledge, others render your computer or cloud service completely worthless.

With such devastating viruses on the internet, you must know how to avoid them. First, buy a cybersecurity service that scans your computer regularly. This can point out issues long before they become unsolvable. Don’t click on unsafe links, and avoid downloading files from the internet without making sure it is safe. When it comes to digital safety, it is better to approach with caution.

Data Breaches

If your product is heavily reliant on a digital ecosystem, a data breach might be one of the worst security issues you can face. You can lose customer or employee information or your website could be hacked for an undetermined amount of time. At the worst, the cybercriminal could use your information to do other malicious activities.

Data breaches are incredibly common. Thankfully, IT services can help you prepare for inevitable breaches in your security. Make sure you are in constant communication with them and have a plan if and when a data breach occurs. Ensure your employees are trained for this as well.

Ransomware

Malware is designed to steal and destroy the digital infrastructure you worked hard to put together. Ransomware enables cybercriminals to hold your information and accounts hostage until you pay them. Unfortunately, they rarely give back full access to everything, forcing you to make insane payments that can destroy your company in a matter of weeks.

If you take the advice given on malware, it becomes just as easy to avoid ransomware. Don’t click on suspicious links or download unverified content. Keep a backup of your information in a safe location—either in print or in a secure cloud. Use antivirus software to warn you of these issues.

Inside Jobs

Perhaps the most disappointing technological threat you face will come in the form of inside jobs. This is when an employee sells customer data to opponents. However, you might not be aware of who is doing it. You shouldn’t have to suspect ulterior motives from your employees, but you may have to put your foot down.

Ensure each employee signs a non-disclosure agreement when they are first hired. This can hold them fully liable if they sell insider information for their personal benefit. While this can’t guarantee that it won’t happen, it can make the crime less desirable.

Hacking through Other Devices

In a highly connected world, it stands to reason you will have many devices that hook up to the internet. While this is extremely convenient, it might also place your company at higher risk—especially when people are using these devices on the go. Because people use their phones to use the internet, mobile attacks have become increasingly common.

Talk with IT services to see what other devices might put you at risk. For example, Apple Watches and tablets may not have as strong of security out in public. Rather than relying on public wi-fi, it might be worth it to invest in a secure VPN or intranet connection to keep potential hackers out.

Cloud Weaknesses

Another awful place to face a security problem is through your digital cloud service. The cloud can store your information without needing to rely on your specific device. It is incredibly convenient and worth the investment.

However, if your cloud gets hacked by a cybercriminal, you can have a serious problem on your hands. They can sell private information that can ruin your company. Just to be mean, they could delete the information you have built up over the years. Remember to never give out the password to anybody except your most trusted employees. Contact IT for other preventative measures to keep this tragedy from happening.

Lack of Security Measures

At the end of the day, what matters is that your information is safe. Create smart passwords and put them in a secret place on paper. Restrict access to specific pieces of information to certain jobs.

Update your software as needed to make sure you have the latest protections. Train your employees to avoid phishing scams and malware. Keep in contact with IT professionals who can give you the latest info on the ever-changing tactics scammers use. Doing so will keep your company much safer in the long run.

Cyber attacks have become increasingly common as people turn to their home internet to do business. The benefits of remote work are astronomical for promoting public health, but they can also put your business in some digital hot water if your team isn’t well-informed and comfortable communicating.

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