How mobile technology is changing SMEs

This is how mobile technology is changing the way SMEs do business

The adoption of mobile technology has changed lives and businesses across the globe, and it isn’t looking to settle any time soon. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) have especially felt the effects, as new communication methods have levelled the playing field between smaller businesses and big corporations.

The way SMEs do business continues to change: marketing, e-commerce and the business’ operational process, are all impacted by mobile adoption — and mostly for the better.

Did you know mobile leaders have grown revenue up to two times faster than those trailing behind? They’ve also added jobs up to eight times faster over the past three years!

What does this all mean? It means mobile adoption should be a key aspect of your growth strategy. Let’s explore why.

Consumer behaviour is changing

Hopping online and doing research before making a purchase is now common practice. When a consumer steps into a brick-and-mortar store they usually already know what they’re looking for. They’ve probably spent hours online searching for what they need, read reviews about it and compared suitable alternatives.

For businesses, this means that they need to provide their potential customers with as much useful information as possible to help with the decision making process - and it needs to be easily accessible from a smartphone. This means that a mobile responsive website is a necessary investment for your business to remain competitive.

Your business is an open book

It only takes a quick Google search for customers to find out about many aspects of your business. From your location, who works there, all the way to reviews. This isn’t a bad thing. Crowdsourced customer review websites make it much easier to compete against bigger companies with bigger marketing budgets.

For example, hotels listed on Tripadvisor can be independently reviewed by guests on their mobile phones. Their honest feedback is usually the difference between a booking or not getting a booking. Other examples include Good Food Guide for restaurants and G2Crowd for B2B technology platforms.

However, you do need to make sure to manage your company’s public profile. For instance, if somebody leaves a negative comment about your product in an online forum, be sure to respond in a professional manner to resolve the situation. It’s your chance to demonstrate to other potential buyers that you truly care about your customers.

Your communication is expected to be immediate

With mobile technology the speed of communication has accelerated dramatically. Buyers now expect instant responses to their queries. This includes personalised and immediate answers to questions on social media and via email. Respond too slowly, and you risk losing a customer to the competition. Respond with a great answer in a timely manner, and expect to win a new customer or delight an existing one.

Putting policies and guidelines into place that outline to your staff how to respond to online enquiries and in what timeframe will help you meet these changed expectations. If your company utilises social media channels, ensure you hire a community manager who is dedicated to the job. A community manager is an essential part of a customer service team and deals with complaints that might hinder your reputation. This means being online at peak social media times (usually 3pm-11pm), ensuring that they know their limits, and, on occasion, aren’t afraid to stand their ground if necessary.

Apps aren’t just for games

Applications for your phone offer you the ability to monitor and complete work from any location. Better yet, some industry specific applications can increase efficiency and automate tasks for managers and their teams.

Implementing technologies in your business that enable your staff to complete easy tasks such as submitting expense invoices, filling in timesheets and sending out quotes on the go will elevate your business’ overall productivity.

Most cloud-based software enables data to sync from one device to another. What you see on desktop can easily be accessed from your mobile or tablet. This makes it easy to be up-to-date with emails, calendar invites, even marketing targets and sales progress, depending on your software. In some cases it also enables employees to work remotely.

Watch-out: Invest in educating your employees

Getting mobile means the whole team adapting. People inherently struggle with change. Educate your team about how to use the mobile system friendly tools you’re integrating and why. Many businesses use tracking tools, instant messaging systems and software on their employee’s mobile device to increase efficiency and get the job done.

Mobile payment means more business

The mobile revolution makes taking payments a lot easier. Business owners who require a physical payment device (taxi drivers, brick and mortar stores, farmers markets etc) can now do this via their mobile device. For example, Paypal has a portable card reader that connects to a phone to take a payment wirelessly.

Square is another point of sale app that lets businesses take mobile payments, with the added perk of it monitoring and tracking your inventory.

Final thoughts

The way SMEs are embracing mobile is changing the way business is done globally. The key to success in a mobile driven consumer world is keeping your business convenient for customers. It will not only delight them, but also boost your revenue.

Your business operations and processes can also be greatly enhanced by mobile. Using systems and tools to streamline and scale many efforts in your business reduces errors and increases efficiency and revenue.

CeBIT Australia CIO Summary Report