In 2009, web 2.0 democratized technology by enabling users to generate their own content through blogs and social media. Since then, more people continue having greater access to technology—which means greater power.

Playing by new rules

Consumers can get product reviews on social media, rather than call a company’s sales team. Instead of contacting customer service, consumers browse YouTube for answers to their product questions.

The democratization of IT doesn’t just give consumers more power, it gives smaller companies an advantage too. The plethora of tools and apps available today help companies operate more efficiently, provide responsive customer service, and innovate faster.

“[Smaller businesses] tend to be a lot more nimble, and they can react to trends in the market, they can react to changes in their own base, and they can put out new innovations at a faster pace,” says Michele Don Durbin, VP global go-to-market at Evernote.

Every company’s a tech company

There’s an old saying that goes: If you’re in business, you’re in sales. A modern variation of that may be: If you’re in business, you’re in tech.

Consider the basic task of communication. In a typical day, your employees may communicate via messenger apps, email, text, and video. What’s more, they may access these programs via different devices like a smartphone, tablet, or computer. That’s a lot of tech per person, for a single task. Add to that the number of IT tools and devices your company uses for day-to-day activities like managing workflows to handling customer inquiries.

The growth of cloud-based tools and apps make powerful technology accessible and more budget-friendly for nearly any company. Many of these tools can be implemented in days and maintained without having to payroll a huge IT team or hire an expensive consulting firm. If you need a little help, no problem. Just hop on a freelancer website (yes, another tech tool) to contract a skilled professional.

IT democratization stretches your resources

The democratization of IT makes it easier to leverage every hour and every dollar by using platforms to efficiently handle business-driving tasks. Not long ago, if you want to build a chatbot to provide the responsive service consumers demand, you had to hire a coder and an artificial intelligence (AI) guru. That is, if you could find one—they’re in hot demand. The expense made chatbots unavailable for most companies running on smaller budgets. But now, you can build a chatbot on any number of platforms like Botsify. There’s no need to code, and some chatbot templates are free.

Thanks to the democratization of IT, it’s easier for growing companies to do more with what they have. In other words, these tools help growing companies play bigger, faster. Instead of hiring an expensive marketing agency, you can create eye-popping videos through software programs like Corel VideoStudio. Likewise, collaboration tools enable you to manage a global team without juggling multiple spreadsheets or hopping on a plane.

Perhaps the challenge for businesses isn’t deciding whether to use more tools. With the number of options available today, the challenge is likely in determining which tech tools to use.

Where SMBs have an advantage

SMBs usually have lean teams and must deliver on projects within short timeframes. Large companies are usually weighed down by layers of management and longer workflows. Say you work for a large company where you have an idea to enter a new marketing channel. You get approval to test your idea. It’s assigned to a project team who studies the channel for a few months. After the results arrive, the team waits a few weeks for resources (e.g., people) to become available, plan, then execute a launch. By then, the idea’s lost momentum, or it never launches as other projects divert attention.

In contrast, SMBs generally move with more alacrity. Here’s how that same idea may roll out: You have an idea to enter a new channel. To keep your core team focused on what they do best, you validate the idea by hiring an experienced freelancer in that channel to launch a pilot or perform research. Within a few weeks, the positive results come in, then you take steps to launch the channel—perhaps with a hybrid team. You’re done with that idea and onto the next.

Yes, it’s an exciting time to be a small- to medium-sized business. At any time, you can reach into the cloud to access the skilled talent and tools you need to get things done—fast. Hey large companies, are you paying attention? There’s serious competition coming up your flank.