From big data to business supplies: the tools SMEs need to thrive and survive

Imagine how easy life would be if your business never had to change. If owning a business meant you didn’t have to worry about your world being turned upside down by a tsunami of new innovations, technologies and experiences. But the reality is the only constant in business today is change.

According to SmartCompany’s 2017 SME Directions survey, small business leaders have a long list of concerns about the challenges ahead. Things that, five years ago, businesses said they would “worry about later” have already become today’s reality: cloud technology, big data, artificial intelligence, flexible working, content marketing and more. The reality is it’s not enough to be just thinking about change – if you want to win, you need to be already doing.

We’re going to let you in on a secret: there’s a whole raft of support tools and business supplies that can help you adapt today to become successful tomorrow. You just need to know where to look.

Here are the changes you should be preparing for right now, and smart solutions to help:

Get flexible

The war for talent is heating up. If you’re going to win, you need to understand what top talent wants and expects from a workplace in 2017. No surprises that good workplace culture and flexible work arrangements are at the top of this list. A recent study by PwC into how millennials like to work showed that 64% would like to occasionally work from home, and two-thirds would prefer to swap the “9 to 6” for hours that suit their lifestyle.

What’s interesting about the flexible work phenomenon is not that more employees want it – it’s that more businesses are doing it. The reason is simple: Seven in ten SmartCompany survey respondents agreed that a flexible working environment is good for their business. Flexible work arrangements help you make quick, nimble and informed decisions, and save costs in terms of office overheads. But most importantly, it helps create a more empowered, productive and loyal workforce. You can’t put a price on that.

Smart Solution: Explore the many ways to create a flexible working environment while saving costs, such as offering flexible hours or giving employees the freedom to work where they want. At Winc, our Workplace as a Service provides the freedom to pay for all your business supplies per user, per month. With business essentials ranging from kitchen supplies and audio-visual solutions to office furniture, you can ensure your business and employees benefit from the most up-to-date technology and furniture without worrying about a huge capital investment. Remember, flexible working isn’t just a nice-to-have – Fair Work Australia requires that employers do their best to provide flexibility if employees request.

Move into the cloud

Cloud technology is a big game changer – second only to smartphones in terms of business impact. What kind of cloud services are we talking about? All kinds. From a single Dropbox account to running all business operations in the cloud (it’s possible!), today one in two Australian businesses use either all or some business management software in the cloud, according to SmartCompany’s survey.

So what’s driving adoption? Businesses simply want an easier way to store, share and manage files. Cloud technology does all this, while also providing a low-cost flexible and scalable IT solution, which enables you to make changes quickly.

Smart Solution: To fully leverage the cloud for your business, you must first know what it can do for you. That’s where Winc comes in. We provide dedicated IT expertise and support, together with the widest selection of technology products and business supplies, so you can tap into the advantages of cloud technology for your business.

To market, to market

There was a time that SMEs didn’t invest enough in marketing. Now they can’t get enough. Nearly 60% of businesses told SmartCompany they would invest more in marketing in 2017. But chances are, that’s still not enough.

In an increasingly saturated competitive landscape, businesses need to cut through the clutter and get noticed. This is where digital and content marketing reign supreme. Once seen as the sole domain of large companies like Nike and Red Bull, lower cost solutions mean businesses of all sizes can share blogs, videos, case studies and more to generate online traffic and those all-important conversions.

But it’s not only online marketing that SMEs should be thinking about; according to NAB , 45% of Australian businesses get most of their sales from local customers. That means if you’re worrying about how to compete against big brand advertising budgets, local area marketing could be the answer.

Smart Solution: Don’t waste time and effort trying to do everything yourself or, worse, juggling lots of different suppliers. Look to one supplier who can support all your marketing goals, like Winc. Whether you need marketing materials, brochures, branded business supplies or direct mail, consolidating your office supplies and printing with one supplier makes it easy to get standout results, on time and on budget.

Get to grips with AI and Big Data

What technologies make you shudder with fear? Artificial Intelligence (AI), big data and the Internet of Things, according to SmartCompany . And who can blame you? Just last year, the Federal Government’s report found that up to half of Australian jobs could be at risk due to automation.

But, with the right mindset, these disruptors can open the door to business opportunities. Take big data – the fact is big data is more suited to small businesses because they tend to be more agile and able to act more swiftly on data-driven insights. And, despite what you might think, you don’t need to be a data scientist to tap into data and get actionable insights. Falling tech costs and new tools are making it easier than ever to make sense of data for your business.

Smart Solution: When it comes to big data, the trick is to start small. Explore Google Trends to see the related search terms for your business. Keep tabs on social media to find out what people are saying about your brand, competitors and related topics. Check out the usage patterns on mobile devices and online traffic patterns to see how people are engaging your brand. Whatever data you’re looking at, focus on one question: “What does it mean?”

Disruption ahead

Are you the disruptor or the disrupted? That’s the burning question for businesses today. Uber, Airbnb and Netflix are the most famous examples of how whole industries have been disrupted by change. But business disruption has been around for decades – just ask Kodak or Sony.

What does disruption mean for your business? A lot, as it happens. SMEs are far better positioned than larger companies to survive, adapt and come out even stronger. The real challenge is to anticipate disruption and plan for the unexpected.

Focus, vision and adaptability are the ingredients for success. But you also need to know that you have the right support and business supplies no matter which direction you’re headed. As a company that truly understands the future of working and learning, we’ve got everything you need to work and learn in one place, tailored to you and your business. Find out how you can turn possibilities into reality with Winc.

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