In today’s fast-paced, data-driven business world, having access to the right technology can be invaluable in growing your business, improving your customer service, and boosting your employees’ productivity. Unfortunately, the very latest and greatest tech rarely comes cheap! There are, however, still some ways you can take advantage of all the benefits without having to part with a small fortune in the process – allowing you to grow your profits and invest in even better solutions. Let’s take a look.
Implement a BYOD policy, but do it the right way
If you’ve got some techie types on your payroll already, allowing them to use their own devices for work makes a lot of sense – but it can also make things more complicated, especially when it comes to data security. With employees taking their devices home where they could be exposed to unsafe networks or get lost or stolen on the train ride home, it’s imperative that you consider and plan against as many risks as possible.
Setting firm policies and access controls in place and making sure you take the time to train your employees is always a good starting point. If you’re dealing with very sensitive customer information, however, getting an outside IT firm to oversee the policy is a safer option. It will cost you, of course, but probably still a lot less than having to purchase your own devices across the company – or worse, suffering a major data breach or loss.
Hire the latest tech rather than purchase outright
One of the biggest challenges for businesses that rely heavily on technology is the speed with which devices, equipment and software can become obsolete. New devices and computers are already pricey, and the math looks even worse when you factor in that you’ll likely have to replace the unit in just a few years. One of the best ways for a business to avoid the exorbitant costs of replacing all their devices every couple of years, while still having access to the latest technology and equipment, is to hire models which can be upgraded from time to time rather than purchasing them outright.
Companies like Hire intelligence allow you to rent everything from desktops, laptops, tablets and workstations to AV equipment, plasma screens, printers and photocopiers – even virtual reality gear – without having to fork over cash for a device which will likely be out of date in just a few years. As an added bonus, most tech hire companies will also offer support and maintenance services as part of your monthly premium.
Get creative and barter with your local tech companies
Whether you’re in marketing, finance, events coordination or web development, the chances are pretty good you’ve got products or services which a tech company might be able to benefit from. This is especially true if you’re a B2B company. Think outside the box and come up with some ways you could exchange your services for the technology you need to ramp up your own offering.
It might be catering their next office party, helping them with their social media, allowing them to advertise on your website, or supplying them with promotional gifts for their clients. Do your homework so you can offer something valued slightly higher than the tech you’re after so there’s more incentive for them to agree to a slightly less traditional arrangement.
Scout around for more cost-effective, open-source or free software alternatives
From accounting, payroll, database management, HR, document and office software, to social media marketing and image editing, there are a surprising number of free or highly affordable alternatives to the enterprise level software giants out there. Many offer virtually all of the features you’d get with a more established brand name at a fraction of the cost, and are well worth exploring. For most small businesses, starting out with a free basic package so you can get familiar with the software, and then upgrading to a suitable paid plan when you do need extra features and support makes sense.
Outsource non-core functions to companies who do have the latest tech
Just because you can’t afford to have the latest technology at your own premises right now doesn’t mean you couldn’t still be taking advantage of it. Companies which offer cloud-based and on-demand services can be a useful intermediate path for SMEs.
Invest in the right tech for your specific needs
Before you commit to any new technology, upgrade or software, you need to have a clear vision of the value it’s going to add for your business. Just because it worked for someone else doesn’t mean it’s going to be right for your niche or target market. Investing in AI may make a lot of sense for a small business pressed for time that needs to automate data processing, for example – but that doesn’t mean it’s right for yours. Always have an end goal in mind, evaluate alternatives, and work out your expected ROI when you do part with your money.