Technology Basics for Business (from WSJ – Colleen DeBaise)

colleen-debaise.jpgColleen DeBaise is one of the premier journalists focused on the issues of small (growing) businesses.
Below, from the Wall Street Journal, is an excerpt from Colleen DeBaise‘s Book THE WALL STREET JOURNAL COMPLETE SMALL BUSINESS GUIDEBOOK
Technological advances have greatly increased the ease with which you can run and grow a small business. If only technology weren’t so complicated.
These days, it’s tough for any entrepreneur to make it—let alone succeed—without a heavy dose of tech. You need a well-designed and easy-to-use website (that’s a no-brainer), plus you might benefit greatly from software, Web applications and equipment that allow you to manage inventory, track customers’ purchases, process invoices, manage payroll and communicate with staff. Most entrepreneurs want the freedom to leave the office yet still stay connected, meaning they (and key staff) need to be outfitted with cell phones, laptops and wireless devices.
Not long ago, the latest technology was only available to the biggest companies with the deepest pockets. Now, prices have dropped as big players such as Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and SAP try to tap the small business market. Increasingly, software is becoming available via the Web as “software as a service” or SaaS, replacing more expensive boxed software that needs to be purchased outright and installed. Open-source software, that is, software whose source code is freely available on the Internet for anyone to use or modify, has made it possible for small business owners (usually with the help of developers or consultants) to customize software for their unique needs. (Read the full article here, in the Wall Street Journal)