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Technology an equalizer for small firms

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

I was recently reading an article on why small business and big business can use technology as an equalizer.  Why they should find a company or an IT consultant that can bundle IT services to them and save them on their expenditures. It validates how Mojoe.net handles its business model and why using one company for IT needs is so cost effective and provides the smaller business with the same tools as the larger business. I have pasted the article into this post. Please see below.

Tools are the same no matter the size of the business

By Laura Raines

For the AJC

12:13 p.m. Friday, April 9, 2010

“With all the virtual ways to do business — audio conferencing, Web conferencing, video conferencing and event conferencing — people don’t have to jump on an airplane these days,” said Jackie Yeaney, chief marketing officer for PGi, a market leader in meeting collaboration technology.

“With companies wanting to cut travel expenses, virtual meetings are growing and that’s helping to level the playing field for small business,” she said.

PGi counts 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies among its customers. It hosts 30 million global meetings a year. But in the past two years, the company has been courting the little guy. It now has about 30,000 small-business customers.

“I’m proud that we serve both. We offer them the same technology infrastructure and service, but we package it differently to fit the needs of small business. Our staff knows that small business owners are CEEs, ‘chief executives of everything.’ They don’t have the time to worry about how it works or if it will work, they just need the right technology at a price they can afford,” Yeaney said.

Technologies that allow virtual meetings; interactive Web sites; smart phones that let people work anywhere; cloud computing that greatly reduces the hardware and software costs; and the use of social media for business purposes (Linked In, Facebook, Twitter) are strong trends in the workplace that are likely to grow. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that Generation Y, the most collaborative and Internet-savvy generation, will make up 47 percent of the work force by 2014.

“The way the world is going offers great opportunities for small business,” said Yeaney. “Joe’s Pizza and Bank of America can use the same exact tools to make their presence felt in the market,” Yeaney said.

“Small companies can appear bigger than they are and make their voice heard. With an interactive Web site and online chat for sales and customer, small companies actually have an edge over large companies. They have the flexibility to adapt quickly to market changes.”

With virtual marketing and communications technology, it’s easier for companies to go global.

“You might need a representative on the ground, but you don’t need an actual office to do business in England anymore,” she said. Fifty-one percent of midsized organizations are actively entering new markets, Yeaney noted, according to an IBM Global CEO Study from 2008, titled “The Enterprise of the Future: Implications for Midsize Organizations.”

Entrepreneurs should consider their technology needs “right out of the gate, as they are launching their business,” Yeaney said. “It’s an important part of the business plan.”

An effective, interactive Web site that allows companies to discuss products and take orders, smart phones, offices that can be rented as needed and other tools can get a company up and running with less overhead. A blog, Constant Contact e-mail newsletters and free Webinars can also help sell products or services, because “customers want to touch you as a business and a person. It’s all about authenticity,” Yeaney said.

With so many tools and ways to communicate, “marketing has become less expensive, which is good for small companies, but also a lot more complicated. Small businesses need to take a thoughtful approach to what tools to use,” Yeaney said.

Entrepreneurs should look at their core business processes and then research what technology tools can manage them better. “My own internal sales team, for example, uses a Web cam to let prospects see them as they’re discussing business. The trust and rapport go up,” she said. Small-business owners can learn more about how technology can help them by talking to other companies in their industry, making use of association resources, reading reviews of products, and/or hiring an IT consultant.

Before selecting a vendor, Yeaney suggests owners look at its customer/client base to see if the company works regularly with small companies. “Choose a company that will give you choices and flexibility and one that will provide great service, because you probably aren’t going to have your own IT person on the payroll,” she said. Bundled services or pay-as-you-go plans may help small companies manage cash flow.

“Staying up-to-date on new technology can be a challenge for small businesses, but it can make a huge difference in the bottom line,” Yeaney said. “You may not need to spend a lot of money. You will need persistence and smarts.”

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