When someone typically hears the word “innovation”, many may instantly disregard it as a corporate buzzword or think of something traditionally done by big organisations (for example massive multinational corporations or enterprise-level companies), yet many growth-focused small businesses are making great use of the new tools and technologies out there to revolutionise the way they interact with their customers and streamline their day-to-day operations for the better – through digital transformation.

Some ways SMBs are implementing new and innovative ways of working and creating deeper relationships with their customers:

Small Business-centric Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems

CRM software has been around for decades for big business, and can be used to track sales, manage client information, evaluate data trends, generate reports and more.

In recent years, an increasing number of CRM solutions that cater exclusively to the needs of small businesses have arisen. These tools are affordable, user-friendly, and packed with capabilities. In addition, they can interface with practically every component of a company’s existing software (or “tech stack”) such as your website, email, social media platforms, and more. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

The words “artificial intelligence” and “machine learning” may be confronting or even scary to some.  Even though the ideas behind these technological advancements are relatively new and somewhat complex, that doesn’t mean that small businesses can’t benefit from them.

AI makes it possible for business owners to set up autonomous systems that can improve many customer-facing and internal processes. Some of the benefits are better customer journeys, efficient employee management, automatic data synchronisation between software, and more. ML adds an additional layer of automation that can save you and your staff many hours a week tweaking your software to suit your unique business needs, as it learns on-the-go. 

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Employees in small businesses typically spend hours per week on simple (and sometimes mundane) yet crucially important everyday activities. This might involve admin work, scheduling appointments, customer service and support, and many other repetitive tasks. RPA is typically quick to implement in most businesses and can be leveraged to expedite digital transformation. It’s also great for automating operations using legacy systems that don’t have APIs, virtual desktop infrastructures (VDIs), or database access.

Out-of-the-box workflow automation tools and software have empowered small enterprises to benefit from these new technologies even without in-house knowledge and relatively low investment costs. Leveraging external experts such as Virtual CFOs and small business consultants to complete all the technical implementation work and train staff with the new systems and processes ensures your new “tech stack” us set up for success.

Finance and Accounting Business Process Outsourcing (F&A BPO)

Outsourcing a business function to a third party rather than hiring a full-time person or team is known as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). Finance and accounting are functions which a third-party specialist (such as a Virtual CFO) takes over one or more financial activities of a business, such as: management of cash and other assets, payroll, taxes, and shareholder or board reporting. 

Through the implementation of a data-driven, intelligent operating model, a Virtual CFO can help you in transforming your finance operations from a transactional service into a strategic asset.

Small and medium businesses (and their owners) value simplicity above all else when planning for the future. Aside from pricing, the most significant requirements for new technology are ease of use, the convenience of setup, and simplicity of maintenance. 

When it comes to considering new technology for their business, three-quarters of SMB owners and leaders (74%) think scalability is “extremely, very, or somewhat” mission-critical to the future success of their business. 58% SMBs prefer to deploy solutions that will fulfil their long-term needs than to implement solutions that would only address their company’s current demands.

In other instances, you may need to make new and somewhat drastic changes in the way that you operate to take advantage of these tech-friendly solutions. The good news is that once new processes are in place, the benefits frequently outweigh the short-term obstacles (and cost considerations) of the initial, transitional phase.

Whether you are a start-up in search of that next big jump or an established small business seeking opportunities to grow, understanding the trends of technology for small businesses in 2022 is vital for your next strategic move. Small business owners can leverage technology to make better use of their limited capital. In many cases, adopting a new platform or system can improve efficiency and flexibility in your everyday operations, a natural progression in the uplift of processes you may already have in place.

Speak with Philip Khao from Solve Accounting on 0412651779 or at philip@solveaccounting.com.au to find out more about your potential business opportunity.

Philip Khao is a Chartered Accountant (CA), Virtual CFO professional and Director at Solve Accounting with many years of accounting and business services experience at global accounting firms and multinational corporations.