Creating a business with digital and online components is no longer just a matter of choice. For the vast majority of businesses, such integration is the only way to stay competitive in an increasingly technologically progressive world. Despite this fact, many businesses operate by only managing the bare minimum of what is required, and that is an issue we want to examine today.
The software and technologies in this list are those which have made great strides in recent years, yet are still commonly overlooked. This is usually because of simple unfamiliarity, which we hope to address as we illuminate potential business elements that might streamline your business, or otherwise grow it in some appreciable way.Source: Unsplash
Virtual Private Networks
Virtual private networks, or VPNs, are services which have proven immensely useful for business and personal use alike. In essence, they work by tricking a connection into thinking your computer is found in another location. In addition to a whole range of inbuilt firewall and encryption tech protecting your data, the fake location itself can be immensely helpful for business use.
A common problem which many people have experienced at home or work is online videos being blocked by a regional lock. Netflix is a common example at home in this regard and one which VPNs can easily circumvent. This way a much greater variety of entertainment becomes possible, and a better experience is the result. At work, accessing foreign videos or regional data can be just as crucial for many industries, such as those involving teaching or media management. Because of all these components and more, VPNs can be a worthwhile investment in terms of choice, freedom, and safety.
Cloud Software and Data Solutions
Having business computer servers or systems go down can be devastating. Sometimes hardware backups mean that returning to regular business can take hours. Other times, lost data can take weeks, or even months, to recover from. Cloud software and data solutions aim to mitigate or remove this risk by offloading data to a separate location.
For software, this means that being able to access relating business infrastructure like POS systems can effectively ben done from anywhere with an internet connection. Since these also typically involve downloadable components in the occurrence of occasional internet connectivity drops, cloud software means that access is just as constant as it would be with hardware systems, only with greater levels of protection.
For raw database systems, cloud solutions are just as, if not more, useful. On many systems, these databases will not only store important stock and sales information, but also payment and personal information from clients, which must be protected at all costs. Damage to a strict hardware system can destroy all of this important data, while theft might put customers at risk.
Data backups as they exist today are highly encrypted and firewalled, making access only realistically possible from authorized individuals. Also, just as with software systems, cloud data allows easy restoration in the case of unpredicted or otherwise catastrophic data loss.
Aiding in both software and cloud backups, is the capacity for data snapshots. These mean that, after every major transaction, the system knows what happens, when, and by whom the changes were made. This makes tracking down accidents or misinformation and preventing its further occurrence all the easier in the future.
Business Messaging Systems
Lack of proper business messaging tools is a problem we see all too often, as many turn to general public systems such as Facebook Messaging to meet their needs. While these can prove effective on a basic level, their focus on non-professional environments means they’ll never be the equal of dedicated business-targeting tools.
Systems like Slack are built from the ground up to support business operations. This includes keeping long and easily searchable logs of discussions between groups and individuals, easy integration with common apps like Google Drive and Office, support for group video messaging, and much more.
At a core level, many of these systems can be free, or at least offer free trials. Even if businesses do go for the paid option, it is rare for these to cost more than $15 a month, a minuscule amount considering the advantages they can have for business communications.
As with the integration of any new business technology, there will be a learning curve for everything we’ve mentioned in this article. It should also be noted, however, that at this point, the software solutions are developed with users of many different levels of expertise in mind. No matter how technically interested or capable you are, simple guides and setup procedures mean that all of these options are viable with far less effort than the technophobic might think.
Those interested can also rest assured that these services also tend to offer short-term use or trial periods if you’re unsure if the technology is right for you. This way, if they don’t perform as you hope, costs will be minimal, and you might even get an indication of where you might see business improvements in the future. With much to gain and next to nothing to lose, consider these options for your business if you haven’t already.