“What are the emerging technologies SMEs most need to be aware of and why? How are “smart SMEs” positioning themselves to take advantage of these technological trends? What are the major technological challenges faced by SMEs in such a rapidly evolving environment?
My response led me to my first blog (finally!).
During 2010 and 2011 one of my companies, cre8you, delivered the Bush Business Online Program, funded by Ausindustry as part of their Small Business Online Program. We trained over 300 small businesses over a 12 month period in new technology, social media and marketing strategies. Our 2 day workshops covered the basics of facebook, twitter, Google Maps and Gmail. We also offered additional workshops covering LinkedIn, wordpress, skype and iStockPhoto to name a few.
We had a lot of trouble getting bums on seats in the beginning and spent a lot of time and effort on traditional media and walking the CBD streets. We ran this training in small rural and regional towns right through the middle of the 2011 QLD floods, so our target of 300 was not an easy one. Our own marketing highlight, however, was to have tweeted and sms’d ourselves to a successful plug on Kochies Distaster Recovery Live Events that were streamed live to cinemas across QLD and Victoria.
On completion of the 2 day workshops our SME’s were overwhelmingly excited about the new opportunities and tools they had been exposed to and rushed out to tell their friends and colleagues how valuable these workshops were and as a result momentum took hold and we were quickly filling our seats to capacity…..and then the funding ran out….but that’s another blog!
Throughout our BBO project, I did learn a thing or two (or 10!) and can answer Greg’s questions from my experience.
What are the emerging technologies SMEs most need to be aware of and why?
Although social media is the big buzz, and it is important for businesses to understand it so they can make an informed decision before they embraced or rejected it, I believe the two most important technologies SME’s most need to be aware of is cloud computing and email. Cloud computing because it is the ONLY way to ensure your information is backed up, safe and accessible, everywhere, anytime. And email because MOST small businesses have very little idea how to use their email client effectively, i.e. how to send attachments, photos, filtering, tagging, filing, retrieving etc and MOST of them are still on PC based (microsoft outlook) style email, making email less accessible and in danger of being lst should a flood take your computer swimming down the river.
How are “smart SMEs” positioning themselves to take advantage of these technological trends?
Smart SME’s are profiling themselves online. They are using the online space to show off who they are and what they can do on platforms such as LinkedIn, facebook, ICN Gateway and their own websites to name a few. Smart SME’s engage online with customers and communicate with suppliers and stakeholders quickly and efficiently via tools such as email, skype and gotomeeting and file sharing using clouds such as dropbox or google doc’s. All of this saves time, money and travel, not to mention the environment.
What are the major technological challenges faced by SMEs in such a rapidly evolving
I believe the biggest challenge for SME’s is information and knowledge management as a whole. There are a LOT of SME’s who are still struggling with the computer age let alone the information age that has pursued it and I believe it is an inate fear of information overload that is stopping them from wanting to engage.
Effective information and knowledge management equals effective time management…being able to retrieve information quickly, utilising existing information and filtering incoming information between useful and not useful is a skill that any SME could benefit from.