Tech Tips

Unexpected Smart Tech Tools Are Available Right Now to Help Your Small Business

Need data analytics? Ink and toner management? Better customer service? There's a technology for that.
Unexpected Smart Tech Tools Are Available Right Now to Help Your Small Business
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Guest Writer
CEO of Integrity Marketing & Consulting
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The adage that "You need to work smarter, not harder" seems to be made for today’s business world. There are many inexpensive technologies out there that can save you time and money and have a measurable impact on your bottom line.

Related: Planning to Adopt Data Analytics? Follow These Trends

So, whether your goal is to save money on your utility bills or improve customer service, consider some of these smart tech solutions that can redefine how you do business.

Data analytics

Using an Amazon Echo, you can do everything from ordering lunch for the staff to managing your appointment schedule, but the technology can do so much more. You can ask Alexa, for instance, to check out the relevant web analytics or unofficial Google Analytics for the report about your site. In this way, you can obtain information about numbers of visitors, click-throughs and other data points you need.

You can also request data relative to a specific a day, week or other time period.Alexa will update you on the details without your ever touching a keyboard. If you already have an Echo, take a few minutes to learn how its data analytics function can help you manage your website. If you don’t have one yet, it’s a small investment in a multi-use tool that is becoming indispensable to small business owners.

Customer service

Unless you outsource your customer service activities overseas, you probably offer product or service support only during business hours, but with chatbots, your customers can receive the targeted and detailed attention they need exactly when they want it. Using this AI technology, you can solve customers' simple problems through automation, reducing your direct service interactions to those that require additional support.

According to the experts at AppInstitute, these programs can reduce operating costs by 66 percent. There are many choices for plug and play chatbots, including BotEngine, bold360 and Botsify, so you can select the one that has the best program integrations and customization features that are right for you.

Related: 20 Free Tools Your Small Business Should Be Using Today

Utility expense management

Managing heating and cooling expenses by using smart technologies is an excellent way to increase cash flow and profits. Nest Thermostat is the first such device to receive an Energy Star rating; and it self-programs to adjust to the season and your schedule. According to the company, users save 10 percent on heating bills and 15 percent on cooling bills, and it achieves better results than a standard programmable thermostat can. Another excellent choice is the Sensi Thermostat by Emerson, which was selected as Best Overall Smart Thermostat of 2018 by Reviewed.com.

Both systems are controlled with a smartphone, so if you need to go into work on a day you don’t typically spend at the office, simply program the change and the space will be at the perfect temperature by the time you arrive. Keeping your business at a comfortable level only during work hours will help manage your budget.

Business security

With all of the focus on digital security, sometimes business owners minimize the need for physical security for their workplace. Smart lock solutions from businesses such as Schlage Smart Deadbolt and Kwikset Kevo connect with your phone so you have complete control over when the doors are unlocked, no matter what the time of day or night, whether you are across town or on the other side of the world.

With these systems, there are no keys that can be illegally duplicated, lost or stolen, and you don’t have to change the locks when an employee leaves. Each employee can have his or her own entry code, and you can revoke access with a swipe of your screen. With these systems, you can also monitor when employees come and go from the office, which keeps all on their toes.

Ink and toner management

A common problem: You need to make copies of that crucial business proposal of yours, or you're trying to print a critical report for your most important client when you receive that "low ink" message on the machine. Now you must rush out and buy ink or toner at the office supply store, which will cost more than you want to spend; or else you'll take the job to a copy shop, which will also exact a steep price.

What to do? Use smart technology, such as the Brother Refresh program or Amazon Dash Replenishment, to connect your printers and copiers with their systems.

These tools remotely monitor the ink or toner levels in your devices, detect when they are running low and automatically send what you need. Unlike a subscription program that delivers products on a set schedule, whether you need them or not, this technology sends only what you need when you need it. It therefore eliminates emergency trips to the office supply store, keeping your business running smoothly, and saving time and money.

Related: Alexa Is Listening. Here's How to Keep Your Voice Assistant From Recording You.

Bottom line

There are many smart technologies that allow small-business owners to save money and improve operations in unexpected areas. Whether you want to monitor your website analytics, keep your business secure or reduce costs, there are many affordable and easy-to-use options for nearly every need.

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