Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal used this as an example of how software is Eating the World. IT investor Marc Andreessen theorized that software is more important than hardware in today’s technological environment. Thanks to advancements like Cloud Computing, users are relying less and less on physical products, and software companies are taking over Wall Street. The technology is changing so fast, even consumers aren’t aware how dependent they’ve become on software, with everything from TV and home videos to film development being taken over by software.
Think about it. The same consumer that used to take photographs with a pricey camera, wait a day or two for a drugstore to develop it, then pay for photo albums in which to store all those pictures now uses a phone to take pictures. The photos are then immediately uploaded to Facebook or shared on sites like Shutterfly, where friends and family view them online or via smart phone. Nothing is downloaded, plugged in, or purchased in a bricks and mortar store. Welcome to the world of software.
What does this mean for your small business? Depending on the type of product or service you provide, you may need to think about evolving to meet today’s technological world. Everyone knows how Netflix obliterated Blockbuster, but the same technology that allowed Netflix to take over the home video rental market is now powering a revolution in the television industry, with cable companies struggling to provide streaming content and electronics companies working to make all devices wi-fi ready.
It all starts with a website. Chances are, your company already has one, as well as an online presence in social media. If not, your customers may not be able to find you. Even restaurants and drugstores need to be findable online, with consumers now turning to smart phones while in transit to decide where to have dinner and buy toiletries. A detailed listing of your services and, if possible, prices need to be posted online, as today’s savvy consumer will often make a buying decision before contacting you.
This software revolution can also be of value to your daily operations. By now, chances are everything you do is automated, from accounting to inventory to ordering. Even medical offices, once tied to appointment books and confirmation phone calls, are switching to medical appointment software and online appointment scheduling. Automating processes can save your staff time, better organize your office, and impress your clients and customers.
According to the results of Intuit’s Get Paid survey, 66 percent of small businesses surveyed still hand-write invoices and use word processing programs and spreadsheets for accounting. This means only 34 percent of small businesses who took part in this survey use specialized software for accounting. Not only is hand-written invoicing more time-consuming and prone to errors, but it looks less professional to your customers, who are growing accustomed to electronic invoicing and online bill paying. In this economy, small businesses must automate in order to compete… or risk being left behind.