Technology may be moving at a pace that strains small businesses’ ability to adapt, but improving technology can make businesses more efficient and even lower costs.
The increasing dominance of cloud computing means businesses are freed from installation and update costs for software that runs on their own computers, said Diana Murray, vice president of operations at ASAP Accounting & Payroll.
“Desktop applications are fast-disappearing, hallelujah,” she told about 70 attendees of the Tech Knowledge 2019 Conference on Thursday at the DoubleTree hotel.
As software applications on the cloud evolve, she said, they increasingly allow for cross-communication, meaning businesses don’t have to enter the same data multiple times over different applications, saving time and money.
Millennials, who grew up with cloud technology, increasingly seek employers who allow telecommuting. She noted 68 percent of millennials say the ability to work remotely increases their interest in working for a firm.
Besides allowing for a remote workforce, technology opens new avenues for collaboration and remote meetings that overcome geography and distance, she said.
Mobile finance has reached the sole proprietor, with even the most humble of small businesses now able to accept credit and debit cards at their plywood hot dog stand.
“These are pretty exciting times in the realm of payment. I’m an accounting nerd,” Murray said. “I’m excited that I can go to the farmers market and pay with a credit card or a debit card.”
Jessika Buell, owner of Marketing Concepts Squared, a social media marketing firm based in Durango, said users of social media are increasingly moving to the use of stories – ephemeral messages often involving photographs or videos that can be limited to reach only friends on social media networks.
Story functions, largely because a user can control access to a trusted group and messages disappear after a short period of time – usually 24 hours – are increasingly gaining favor, growing 15 times faster than social media news feeds that are open to all users, Buell said.
Large businesses, aware of the trend, already are gearing up marketing campaigns with an eye on getting them voluntarily inserted into story communications on social media, and Buell said small businesses also must begin thinking about developing their own advertising strategies to gain wider dissemination through social media story applications.
The advent of new forms of communicating on social media is also spurring ever higher advertising budgets, she said.
“Marketers increased advertising budgets 32 percent in 2018. We’re producing more ads than ever,” Buell said.
Increasing competition for placement of social media advertisements has led to a premium on creativity, which not only separates an advertisement from the crowd but also increase the odds it will be incorporated into social media story conversations, Buell said.
Increasingly, the best advertisement she said are personalized to appeal to individual users, but those ads have to be finely crafted to avoid becoming “creepy” and facing a backlash from people upset about privacy violations.