Five ways technology is changing small businesses

In this blog we’ve highlighted five key messages from an inspirational conference we attended last month – Xerocon, London. Xerocon was organised by Xero, a cloud-based accounting software company. Many of Dafferns’ small business clients have now started managing their accounts via this platform.The conference took a look at the way small businesses work now and how technology will continue to affect how we work in the future.

1. Use technology to compete against larger companies

OK, we are all doing this to some extent already. But increasingly, large companies should be afraid! To generalise a little, small companies have always been more agile and able to grow faster than their more cumbersome, larger, competitors. However, the costs associated with powerful management systems and technology have historically provided barriers to competition. We are now seeing those barriers disappear with the wider availability of affordable, cloud-based accounting and business reporting platforms. Smart, small teams with access to these well-designed systems, can now start to compete with bigger businesses – on a more level playing field – from their home office, the local coffee shop …or the ski slopes.

2. Access big data…and the power it puts behind your decisions

A key message from the conference was that we should all love data. Our data tells us who we should love and look after…and who is likely to love us back! Surely, the basis for any meaningful business relationship? Through linkages between our accounting data on a platform such as Xero, and add-on business reporting tools such as Microsoft BI, small businesses now have access to the same types of powerful reporting tools and data as their larger competitors.

3. Use the power behind smarter, connected technology

In the past, accounting systems have been able to crunch and present accounting data back to us all in a nice, neat, well-organised format. The change we are about to experience is that, as we start feeding more and more data into our digital accounting systems, those systems will start to learn how we do things and will ultimately be able to make some simple decisions for us, based on our pre-determined preferences, habits and behavioural patterns. This will free up valuable management time for value-added activities…or more leisure time.

4. Leverage mobile technology

Everything has gone mobile…well, almost everything. 73% of the world’s population has access to mobile technology. 87% of millenials have their ‘phones by their side all the time…and for 80% of them, the first thing they do each morning, is check their ‘phone.* As this group of young people moves into our workforce, companies will need to meet their expectations, if we are to attract the best young talent. This means freedom from traditional working routines: 9-5 is old hat and this new workforce will expect to be able to work from anywhere…because that’s what they’ve been used to. As clients, this new generation will expect data, service and contact 24/7. So, as you develop new work systems and practices, think mobile.

5. Be agile and scalable via technology

Technology is already changing the way we form teams and run companies. Companies that adapt successfully will find that they can still get the work done, but more flexibly. If managed well, this can be highly motivating for employees who can dovetail work better around home lives or other life interests and serious hobbies. For employers this means scaling up resource when it’s needed, and allowing that resource to do other things (or save money!) when it’s not.

If you would like to talk to us about how technology and cloud accounting can help you run your business, please contact [email protected].

* Source: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Annual Internet Trends Report published by Partner Mary Meeker