With the advent of new technologies, the business landscape sure looks a lot different than it did just a short time ago. Despite the coming changes, there are tools that have had a great impact on business and hold great promise for the future.
If I had to pick the tools that would be most indispensable for businesses and entrepreneurs now and in the future, my list would include:
Cloud technology is truly changing everything. The most important thing the cloud brings to entrepreneurs and to businesses is enhanced accessibility. People can, will, (and in many instances, already do) access everything they need from anywhere they are through the cloud.
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This technology allows for sharing secure and private information, and it will continue to create new capabilities for more efficient work. While adoption of cloud tech is improving business communication, its proper implementation will increase workplace collaboration in unimaginable ways. For businesses that thrive on their remote workers, cloud-enabled collaboration will become crucial.
Google Drive (Productivity): Allows for all of your tools -- from documents to spreadsheets to calendar – to be at your fingertips for free or a very low cost.
StarLeaf (Collaboration): Simple, secure and highly reliable ad-hoc video solution for point-to-point and multi-user video conferencing.
Quickbooks Online (Accounting): Powerful tool for small businesses looking for a single application to handle contacts, billing, banking and so much more.
Pipeliner (CRM): Many great cloud customer-relationship management apps are out there but this one has a wonderful visual interface that gives newfound clarity to deal management.
With rapid Internet proliferation and smarter devices becoming not only more affordable but also more widely available, the mobile employee will be as productive as ever, regardless of whether they are in the office or at a coffee shop. Mobile will ensure the ultimate success of flexible work, pushing it to mainstream.
GChat (Mobile Real-Time Chat): This platform is an awesome and free way to connect and chat with almost anyone on the web. Not a private platform, but super convenient.
Asana and Trello (Productivity and Project Collaboration): Small businesses rarely allows for project teams to be available in one place. Mobile project collaboration is hot and these tools are awesome.
Small businesses will be empowered to make data driven decisions from a plethora of data brokers who are selling the power of information, much like brokers used to sell oil or commodities. Want to understand how to grow your business? Just look at the data, and you will be able to make informed decisions that are both simple and affordable. The present strategies of business owners will align and prepare them for the future, but these tools will also take the burden of data mining and management off their shoulders.
Google Analytics (Web Traffic): This free tool is a tremendous way to see where your traffic is coming from and where they go once they get to your site.
Moz (SEO): Want to understand the keywords, traffic and competition better? This tool will help you optimize and get more from your digital assets.
Traackr (Social Influence): Interested in who the individuals and companies are that have the most influence in your industry or area of interest? This tool can help you do that.
Twitter Analytics (Native Twitter Data): For companies using Twitter for social marketing, Twitter’s native analytics are a great way to see how your content is performing.
We no longer need to knock on doors or make cold calls to find our prospective customers. We can locate them instantly, see what they are talking about (and what matters to them) and connect and engage with them in real time. Effective messaging and tactics backed by strategy will certainly be necessary. But social will reinvent our go-to-market strategies like nothing ever has before. In fact, social will be the place where your customers will willingly seek you out. There is the potential to create relationships that will yield brand advocates who will help build your brand community, and ultimately, bolster your credibility. From this standpoint, social media tools will no longer be optional. Instead, they’ll be must-haves.
Hootsuite and Sprout Social (Feed Management and Scheduling): Looking for a central command center for social-media planning and distribution? Look no further than to these tools to empower your business to be social.
Buffer (Scheduling): For companies looking for an easy way to keep their content sharing valuable and regular Buffer allows you to quickly find content and share it at a later time rather than immediately.
BundlePost (RSS Automation and Optimization): This lesser known tool is a wonderful way to aggregate RSS data to see the most relevant content and then using simple export tools upload the content to your social management platform.
Making these tech tools a part of your core business operations now will unlock potential benefits for the future. How many have you already employed?