Saying that we live in a “digital age” may feel a bit cliche, but there's no denying that the internet and social media have revolutionized the way we interact. Survey data from the Pew Research Center reveals that 81 percent of Americans use the web daily, with 28 percent saying they are online “almost constantly.”
This dependence on digital tools also spills over into the business world. The pandemic has accelerated online shopping trends, and countless companies rely on SaaS and PaaS tools to keep their operations running smoothly.
For entrepreneurs, this reliance on technology creates new opportunities, but it also requires that startups use the right tech tools and technologies themselves. Consider this a starter kit.
1. Cloud native technology
“Cloud native technology is no longer a ‘good to have’ — it’s absolutely essential,” Karan Nangru, founder of cloud native consulting and solutions firm StatusNeo, shared with me during a recent email exchange. "Cloud native tech offers speed, scalability and elasticity that businesses of all sizes can leverage to their advantage. The ability to build and run cutting-edge solutions that are hosted on public, private or hybrid cloud environments and leverage containers, microservices, immutable infrastructure, APIs and serverless computing is now mainstream."
Enterprise businesses, as well as entrepreneurs, have one focus in common — business transformation. In most cases, technology enables this transformation, while cloud native platform services accelerate it.
2. Marketing tools
The digital age has introduced a host of new marketing techniques, and successful entrepreneurs must use each of these tools if they wish to reach their customers. Social media, email campaigns, SEO and PPC represent a significant source of traffic and customers for brands.
Of course, many startups don’t have the financial resources to hire an advertising agency. The good news is marketing tools make it easier and more affordable to manage each task. For example, HootSuite allows startups to schedule social media posts weeks in advance, while Mailchimp helps entrepreneurs create and manage email campaigns.
Modern marketing tools take a big-picture approach, offering campaign analytics and integration with other cloud platforms. Many even provide tutorials and guides to help your team implement best practices that will yield a better ROI for your campaigns.
3. Machine-powered data monitoring
One of the biggest advantages of modern tech tools is their ability to collect data. By learning more about your customers or the efficiency of your processes, you can make key changes to your business to improve your profitability.
Obtaining data is one thing. Knowing how to use it is another. That is why many startups are turning to machine-learning tools that automatically monitor data trends and provide insights to reveal what the numbers actually mean.
In an email conversation, Victor Zhang, co-founder of analytics monitoring company, Orbiter, explained, “Machine- learning software enables the analysis of normal behavior for metrics within your system. Using this baseline, machine- learning modeling can also determine whether any changes that take place are abnormal. These abnormalities trigger proactive alerts so you become aware of important trends impacting your business’ ecosystem. By turning numbers and data into meaningful information, entrepreneurs can take swift action to improve their business.”
4. Customer relationship management software
Because customers are so important, it should hardly be surprising that there is an entire segment of tech tools dedicated to them. Customer relationship management (CRM) software gives companies greater power in how they handle these vital relationships.
CRMs collect a wide range of information that can help your sales team convert leads into sales or improve customer retention metrics. For example, tracking customer touch points with your brand will help sales staff know which prospects are most likely to convert, so they can prioritize customer outreach appropriately.
When used effectively, CRM tools can make a big difference for your bottom line. A survey from Capterra found that 47 percent of CRM users said the software “significantly improved” retention and customer satisfaction.
5. Basic automation
There are only 24 hours in a day, yet entrepreneurs often feel like they need an extra hour or three to manage everything that's on their plate. This is especially true of solopreneurs, who are tasked with running an entire business on their own.
While there are many tasks that are essential in any startup, many of these are mundane, rote activities that don’t have as great of a contribution to your company’s growth. This makes automation tools or the use of a virtual assistant essential for overworked entrepreneurs.
Automation tools can help with everything from expense tracking and sending reminders for appointments to generating contracts or managing client on-boarding. In fact, WorkMarket’s 2020 In(Sight) Report found that 78 percent of business leaders felt that automation could help them save three hours per day — or roughly 360 hours over the course of the year.
With strategic automation, you can open up a lot of time for tasks that have a greater contribution to your bottom line.
Use the right tools to get the right outcomes
No matter what industry you’re trying to make a splash in, the right technology tools will make all the difference for your startup. With software that enables collaboration, helps you gain better insights regarding the status of your business or simply automates basic tasks, you will have the resources necessary for meaningful growth.