How to make the most of government grants for tech spend

If you’re one of the Australian SMBs that’s been fortunate enough to receive a government grant for tech spending, that’s obviously champagne-popping news, but there’s a key question that it’s essential to address: How do you best invest your tech grant to maximise your business growth?

Connected Small Businesses 2017, a Deloitte study on the adoption and benefits of digital tools in the Australian SMB sector, indicates 87 per cent of SMBs could make better use of digital tools. But they’re inhibited by issues such as their depth of knowledge of the technology and the inadequate skills of their staff. The analysis also shows that Australian SMBs with advanced levels of digital engagement, relative to those with basic levels, are 50 per cent more likely to be increasing their revenue and yielding 60 per cent more revenue per employee.

To maximise your return on investment in tech for your business, it’s important to invest strategically. The following three technologies have a lot of potential for your business growth, but it’s important to think carefully about how to harness them.

Financial Management software

Financial management software functions as a powerful platform to inform you about financial decisions that will impact on the productivity of your business.

When you’re evaluating financial management software, you’ll discover it’s important to consider how strong the technology is with expense management, revenue management and real-time capture of your business’s financial performance.

Now that cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) options are in the mainstream, it’s timely to seriously consider how you might benefit from them if you invest in financial management software.

Migrating to the cloud with a SaaS package can potentially solve a lot of challenges for your business: You can reduce financial management costs, improve data storage/accessibility and enhance employee mobility.

When you incorporate leading financial management software into your business, you can also enable everybody in the business to work from the one source of finance, sales and customer data. But it’s still important to ask software vendors about the training and support they offer businesses to implement the technology, the applications that can be added to the software and the process of migrating data to the platform.

Done right, you can also use this tech to appeal to investors, stay on top of tax obligations and comply with financial reporting.

Retail Management software

A good retail management software system is a solution for businesses who have to walk the tightrope between overselling and understocking merchandise. Tooling up with a cloud-based platform enables you to add sales channels, geographies, business models and brands as your business requires.

You can ditch cumbersome spreadsheets and glean insights into customer behaviour, sales, stocks and financials in real-time. Activity dashboards give you a window into the movements of your merchandise delivery pipeline; you can supply team members (such as store managers and inventory managers) with weekly and monthly sales reports and modify the software’s functions to fit with your business’s expansion.

Smarter software will also be omnichannel-ready, so you can enable your customers to switch between channels – such as desktop, mobile and in-store, throughout the customer journey. Omnichannel retail software captures the backstory of your customers’ consumer experience, so you have the insight to personalise their interactions. Your customers will value the convenience of engaging with your business in-store, over the phone and on your website, at different stages of the customer lifecycle.

When you’re choosing inventory management software, it’s important to verify the system can capture, track and fulfil orders across multiple sales channels.  It’s also imperative it can deliver reporting and analytics, and respond intelligently to complex shipping schedules and order characteristics.

Customer Relationship Management software

A good customer relationship management (CRM) solution acts as an all-in-one container for the data you need to nurture your customer relationships. It supports you to keep track of information including contact details, customer enquiries, interactions and transactions. It can track clicked or opened emails and its dashboards and reporting functions illuminate customer patterns, trends and behaviours. Investing in this technology, can yield increased sales opportunities and relieve the onerous nature of administrative tasks – by automating them too.

But you need to be able to use the technology effectively. It’s important to train employees and to choose a software solution that’s aligned with your needs (since CRM technology takes many forms). SaaS, cloud computing, chatbots and artificial intelligence are all transforming the power of CRM, and this is positive for the productivity of SMBs who invest in it wisely.

Connected Small Businesses 2017 highlights that businesses adding digital technology to their strategy also switch on to the prospect of new technologies that can present opportunities for their operations. Be certain to have a strategy to extract the full value from the software you choose and do your homework first to find the right solution for your SMB.

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Josh Jennings
Josh Jennings is a freelance journalist and copywriter who enjoys writing for a range of publications and clients about subjects including careers, employment, small business and tech/IT.

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