Top 5 Technology Challenges for Business Owners

Top 5 Technology Challenges for Business Owners

Technology | Posted by YouInc.com - October 28, 2013 at 6:46 am
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Make technology your friend with these tips to tackle common tech challenges

Is technology your enemy? Tech issues can trip up any entrepreneur, from creating an affordable website to figuring out collaboration tools to setting up cloud storage. And most entrepreneurs get frustrated with the learning curve and expense required to master a new device, application or service.

But, done right, technology can empower your business to climb to amazing heights.

Review these five top technology aggravations for Canadian business owners – and try the solutions suggested.

Building a website

Recent reports reveal that 54% of Canadian small businesses do not have a website. Designing, building and maintaining a website is naturally intimidating to anyone unfamiliar with the process. And, once launched, a website or blog generates ongoing work such as responding to customer inquiries, performing search engine optimization, posting content and staying current with changes in internet technology. It’s enough to make any business owner run for cover.

There are a number of companies offering free or low-cost website building platforms. These companies usually offer easy-to-use customizable website designs, and can help you with a domain name, hosting and email set up. Shop both large vendors like Microsoft Office 365 and small ones such as YourWebDepartment to find the right mixture of features, services and price.

Data loss

According to research conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers, 70% of small businesses that experience a data loss will go out of business within a year. That may reflect the vulnerability of smaller businesses in this area: we simply don’t have the big-business budgets to spend on data storage, backup and protection. And, a disproportionate amount of our data may reside on one or two devices – leaving us vulnerable to catastrophe if a key machine is lost, stolen or destroyed.

Thankfully, there are a number of data solutions available. You can physically back up your data to an external device, you can copy your data onto disc, or you can subscribe to a cloud storage facility such as Box.com. For extra security, do all three. Whatever solution you prefer, make sure your data backup source is offsite, secure and accessible anytime.

Managing information

Who knew a small business could generate so much data? Business owners are bombarded with different types of data including website analytics, sales numbers, financial reports and prospect research – all of it important and constantly changing.

Before anyone can make sense of this information, the challenge is organizing it. And that’s where dashboards come in very handy. A dashboard is management tool that allows a business leader to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs). It curates information to provide at-a-glance reviews – imagine being able to track the dollar value of sales secured by your remote sales team as deals close. You can also use a dashboard to spot problems within your business early enough to take action.

For example, Microsoft Dynamics is customer relationship management (CRM) software that lets you monitor team activities across sales, marketing, customer care and social media for up-to-date information.

Social media

The challenge here is time: Business owners want to be active in social media platforms (and know their marketing success depends on it) but understandably struggle to find the time to send tweets, post blogs, or build connections.

Lean on technology and apps to make social media participation fast and easy. Hootsuite gives you one platform to manage and measure your social media activities across networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. And every social media network is mobile enabled, so you can dash off some words of wisdom from your phone whenever and wherever you choose.

Cost to upgrade technology

The good news about technology is also the bad news: it changes quickly. It can get expensive to pay for the latest smartphones, tablets, wireless routers and other productivity devices – especially if you're buying for a team. There's also the cost to subscribe to current Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications essential to power everyday business functions such as accounting, invoicing, customer relationship management, data storage and more.

Upgrading technology is an important strategy for two reasons: it will help your business to remain competitive, and it will enable you and your employees to work more efficiently. Upgrading your tools only when you notice an impact on productivity may be too late – work with your accountant or financial advisor to establish a realistic annual budget to keep your technology fresh. Thankfully, technology costs are trending downward as more vendors compete for your business.

 

Tags: challenges, data, microsoft, social media, technology, upgrade, website, health

Roger Pierce
With Roger’s experience in starting and running 12 small businesses, it’s no wonder that he is Scotiabank’s small business expert. Roger takes what he has learned and shares it with thousands of entrepreneurs worldwide in articles, blogs, videos, and presentations. He’s also co-author of the book, Thriving Solo: How to Grow a Successful Business.
Comments
Christian Walker
October 28, 2013 at 10:14 am
To add some context to my comments, I make my living as an Information Management / Governance Consultant. That means that I advise clients on how to capture/create, organize, store, secure, find, manage, and dispose of information over its complete life cycle. Included in what I do is providing guidance on regulatory and best practice matters related to managing information. If you want to know more you can check out my blog which is linked from my You Inc. profile and includes a link to my Linkedin profile.

When you're looking at cloud services (e.g.: Box, Dropbox, Google Drive) you need to take into account where the servers are located. For instance, servers located in the U.S. are subject to the PATRIOT act and Canadian based servers are subject to Canada's Anti-terrorism Act. What that means is that governments can access those servers and snoop around in your data, often without your knowledge. If you are storing sensitive information about yourself or your clients, you need to be aware of this. You also need to be aware of any applicable privacy and security issues related to storing sensitive information.

Managing information is about more than just dashboards and analytics. Managing information is really about being able to leverage the value of your information. Its about understanding how and why your information flows, ensuring that your information is reliable and current, securing your information, and about getting rid of information that is no longer of any use.
Mark Burdon
October 28, 2013 at 8:10 pm
Hey Christian!

Welcome to YouInc!

I know you're an authority as it pertains to information management. I think though sometimes discussions about the Patriot Act and information across borders as it relates to services like Office 365, Box, Google Apps for Business makes people think they shouldn't use Cloud Services at all.

I am in complete agreement with you however I have talked to a number of small businesses on this topic that think/hear that they can't legally store information in the U.S. or other countries. This is a good resource from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada that says you have to be careful with your information as you say however it doesn't make using Cloud based services illegal as long as the business is careful with who they deal with, the contracts they sign and the precautions they take.

http://www.priv.gc.ca/resource/fs-fi/02_05_d_51_cc_01_e.asp

and

http://www.priv.gc.ca/information/guide/2009/gl_dab_090127_e.asp

I was at an ARMA Toronto meeting last year (I know you're been to a few of these) and the Chief Privacy Officer gave a great presentation on this info.

Have a good one!

Mark
Christian Walker
October 29, 2013 at 9:33 am
Hey Mark (and everyone else)


I didn't mean to imply any illegality about where cloud service servers are located, only that the issue needs to be examined in light of the nature of the business and data that is being stored. You're absolutely correct that a lot depends on the provider, the contracts, and the services level agreements (SLAs). It's also important to note that you are ultimately responsible for your own data.


To paraphrase Ann Kavoukian (Ontario Privacy Commissioner); you can outsource data but you can't outsource accountability.


Yeah, I've been to, and presented at, a number of ARMA events. I'm actually presenting at ARMA Edmonton's November event on the 20th.


Cheers!

Chris
Esther Okamura
October 29, 2013 at 10:26 am
Wow Christian! Thank You! Your message is an eye-opener and thought provoking. So, if Gov can get at cloud info, so can citizen hackers. More concerned about 13 year olds, this means that client info (accounting software package) needs more thought. So tell me, like erasing from hard drive, when data is removed from the Cloud, are there data bits left so, with the wherewithal, hackers could still retrieve data from the Cloud? I'm loving Google Drive but I decided to upload, then immediately download after collaboration. Is this sound?
Christian Walker
October 29, 2013 at 12:13 pm
Hi Esther - Don't panic ...


Unless you're storing massive volumes of PII (Personally Identifiable Information) and credit card info, chances are no one will bother to hack you. It takes too much effort and the payoff isn't big enough. If you get hacked by 13 year olds the likely consequence would be nuisance value. You can guard against hacking by having backups and complex passwords, but note that nothing is 100% secure. Your phone, laptop, and tablet are probably more likely to be compromised than any cloud service providers servers.


As for what happens when you delete or move content you've stored in the cloud, you need to read the terms of service you have with your providers. If it makes you feel any better, I use Google Drive and Dropbox for my business and personal content.


You mention "collaboration" in your comment. I'm not certain of the context you're referring to. Feel free to contact me offline (my email address is in my profile) to clarify and then maybe I can offer some guidance.


I hope this helps.


Cheers!
Chris
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