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Operatinos Technology

The Growing Gap in Small Business Operations

The vast majority of small businesses (less than 100 employees) are caught in a paradox. They operate at a time in history when advancements in technology delivered through the internet have given them unprecedented access to tools that can revolutionize their way of doing business, allowing them to outstep the competition and spur growth and profits. Yet the instruction set for implementing these new technologies is, for all intents and purposes, unwritten.

The Google app marketplace supports hundreds of applications that can be integrated with the Google platform of email, contacts, calendar, etc. Zapier, a leading resource for integrating disparate cloud based applications to create cross application functions, connects over 500 independent digital tools for managing a business, from finances to marketing to operations management. APIs, once the realm of software and systems engineers, are becoming the lingua franca of the connected business. Pick a leading business software platform, whether that is Intuit, Microsoft, Google, Salesforce, etc., and you will also have the opportunity to choose from among many hundreds of complementary software add ons, plug ins, and integrations.

So, what’s a small business owner or manager left to do but swim upstream into this ever increasing flow of software choices? It creates great tension in the organization by wasting effort, upsetting employees, and unnecessarily costing both time and money. In the end, many businesses ignore these choices and miss out on the opportunities these valuable solutions can offer once deployed in a way that matches each business’ unique needs.

We see the development of a new class of consultants known as Cloud Technology Experts whose core competency is the selection, alignment and integration of the various tool sets to which businesses now have easy access. Even within this specialization, there will be sub-specialties in financial and HR management, business process operations, and sales and marketing automation. Few small businesses will be able to support the development of these roles internally, and will have to reach outside their organization for the help needed.

In the past 3 years, my company has helped multiple small business operators and start-up entrepreneurs define their business positioning, operational processes and go-to-market efforts through the lens of digital technologies. The trials we’ve undertaken and solutions we’ve identified have created patterns that indicate how a business needs to approach prioritizing the many solutions paths available to them.

As a marketing company with strength in both strategic planning and cloud based technology integration and implementation, we believe that every business situation is unique and can only be defined in context to it’s competition, marketplace and customer needs. A pet store owner with 3 employees has a much different set of opportunities than a local bank with 3 branches. An accountant grows her customer base at a different pace than a software entrepreneur. Yet each of these business types share a need to uncover the right tool sets and apply them to their business. We see expertise in cloud technologies a key need for small business in the years to come, and anticipate the emergence of supporting companies dedicated to this need, in finance/HR, in company operations, and in marketing and sales automation.

We’re all in.

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