For small and mid-sized businesses, technology can make a difference in driving your business forward – making you stand out from the competition. But how to get there? In this post, we present some points for you to make technology a competitive advantage and improve your productivity.

The right technology can be a big difference for your company’s productivity. Modernizing your IT environment can lead you to stand out from your competitors, big or small. According to a study by the Boston Consulting Group, leading technology companies – defined as companies that adopt new technologies quickly – perform much better than their competitors in the market. They create jobs almost twice as fast as other small and medium businesses. In addition, they increase annual revenue 15% faster than their competitors.

But how to get there? It’s often daunting when you look at your IT environment – from servers to cloud and computers to mobile devices – and try to figure out where to start and how to transition from what you currently have to your new vision. To help you, we present below 8 simple tips for you to make technology a great advantage to improve your team’s productivity.

  1. Adapt to changes

Technology must be an asset – one that helps you anticipate, manage and respond quickly to change. Technology should make life easier and provide flexibility so you can quickly adapt to changing business needs, whether you’re expanding your infrastructure or adding new computers, devices and applications that improve your employees’ productivity.

Many SMBs are looking to cloud technologies to provide flexibility and help their customers adapt more quickly to change. However, many of these companies are not following an “all or nothing” strategy. They’re taking a “hybrid” approach, keeping some components on-premises and moving others to the cloud, where it makes good business sense.

Whichever path you choose, choose an IT platform that allows you to quickly adapt to the dynamism of the market, offer productivity tools to your team and be more agile than your competitors.

  1. Protect and control your data

With the increased freedom and flexibility of the mobile workforce, there’s also increased risk — how can you be sure that when your employees leave with their laptops and smartphones, sensitive corporate data remains protected? This is a common concern. According to Techaisle’s 2015 SMB Mobility Adoption Trends study, only 16% of companies are fully prepared to address the security challenges of mobility.

To protect your data and not increase costs, work with native protection at all levels of your technology platform – from servers to computers and mobile devices. Rest assured knowing that everything works together and that the right people will have access to the right files and information:

  • Give your employees easier, more secure access to everything they need to stay productive: Give employees a simpler, more consistent way to access all their apps, websites and devices with a single sign-on.
  • Protect your data, your corporate data wherever it resides: Attach encryption and rights management rules to corporate data to help prevent unauthorized access and use.
  1. Make the most of your technology

When it comes to investing in technology, you need to make sure you’re getting the most value from the products and services you buy, and that you’re not buying more than you really need.

The market offers small and medium-sized businesses a wide range of solutions that help maximize IT investments and optimize productivity – whether you’re getting more out of the servers running your business applications, taking advantage of the speed and flexibility of the cloud or getting the most out of the computers and devices used by your employees.

  • Run more applications on the same server and reduce costs on server hardware, IT maintenance and energy bills.
  • Host and scale your applications in the cloud and avoid high upfront infrastructure expenses.
  • Easily manage computers and mobile devices from the cloud and enable easy mobile access while simplifying and reducing IT management costs.
  • Move corporate data to the cloud and get flexible data storage without having to invest in costly solutions.
  1. Be prepared for the unexpected

According to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of companies hit by disasters never reopen their doors. And another 25% end their activities in two years. Major disasters have made “disaster recovery” solutions essential for many organizations. However, systems can become inoperable for a variety of reasons: an outage, a fire or a simple power outage.

Recovering from unexpected downtime takes more than backing up data. You need to restore your applications and systems to the state they were in before the downtime. This can take days or even weeks with simple backup systems. And without frequent backups, you could lose data for several days. Without a solution to ensure business continuity, you risk major business disruptions, resulting in lost productivity and lost customers.

Data recovery gives your company the possibility to continue producing even if something unforeseen, or even natural disaster, occurs. The most effective and cost-effective solutions are in the cloud, as is backup. When purchasing a data recovery technology, be aware: the best ones are those that offer encryption and remote data removal.

  1. Do your work anywhere

Boost productivity by enabling employees and teams to get work done from anywhere and using any device. 63% of companies say mobility is helping to increase the efficiency of their business processes (Techaisle) and as mobility increases, you need to ensure your teams can work together from anywhere. Whether for online meetings, collaborating on documents or sharing data and ideas

Get technologies that deliver a complete platform with productivity tools to help you access your most current files and applications and communicate with your staff from any computer or device – or even using business applications hosted on your servers.

  1. Understand your customer

You don’t need a crystal ball to get to know your customer. You just need the right productivity tools to deliver what they need, at the right time. It is not enough to have data and insights. It’s important to serve customers and earn their loyalty, every day.

You’re probably sitting on a gold mine of data with regard to your customers. The challenge is to use this gold mine to your advantage. Often the hard part is getting to that data and making it useful to help you understand your customers and answer questions like “Who are your most profitable customers?”, “What are their main challenges?”, “How can you win them over in a way that your competitors can’t?” Data can make a difference, if you have the productivity tools to use it to your advantage.

  1. Easily work as a team

Today more and more people are working outside the office and on a wide range of mobile devices. To keep pace with business, employees need to access their work and communicate with their team wherever they are. People expect flexibility wherever and whenever they need to do a job – and this is so common that it can become a key differentiator when it comes to attracting and retaining the best employees.

Work with tools and productivity apps that allow teams to work together from anywhere, with the same familiar experience and using their computers and mobile devices. Whether collaborating on important business documents, meeting with your team, or communicating with customers and partners.

  1. Increase your sales

Winning customers today means keeping in touch. When you are able to interact with your customers on an ongoing basis, you can be aware of their changing needs and challenges and create a lasting relationship. And when it comes to creating a sales strategy, you can engage them with compelling, relevant presentations that stand out from your competitors.

Microsoft, for example, offers complete solutions with productivity applications for building and maintaining customer relationships and generating sales. Best of all, you can do all of this using features from familiar Office productivity tools that you probably already use.

Final Words

We hope these tips help you find new technology solutions, maximize your productivity, and grow your business. Today, small and medium-sized businesses can access capabilities that in the past were only available to large companies.