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For many businesses, the idea of changing technology can be a daunting task. However, for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who are tired of outdated legacy IT and managing their business in spreadsheets, change does not have to mean a complete IT overhaul. The following 5 tips will help SMEs take steps to start thinking about the digital transformation of their company:

  1. How to free up HR and operations from their desks

As businesses become less desk-based, the transferal of business-critical applications from computers to mobiles can help free up workers in operation roles such as HR, finance and payroll who’ve traditionally been chained to their desks due to tired, legacy software will be able to access centralised data from anywhere and any device. While planning and complicated tasks can remain on the desktop while approval processes, updates can be done from mobile. A few businesses are catching on to this but the interest and need to make this mainstream is there. Cloud-based business management ERP applications can mobilise a whole new facet of the workforce – enabling faster, better business decisions based on real-time analytics. Security, as always, is key – accessing via VPN and finding a solution which meets industry compliance standards is essential.

  1. Weigh up the business benefits of IoT

SMEs should research the costs and the benefits of IoT transformation and whether those benefits are worthwhile. Executives will want to know whether they can integrate existing systems and applications with connected devices and connected elements in the enterprise and how to make good use of that data.

  1. Make IoT integration a priority from the outset

As Peter Sondergaard, SVP & Global Head of Research at Gartner, recently put it, the IoT is where ERP was in the 90s, and both have faced the same challenge: integration. For businesses looking to extract the full value from the IoT, this must be the top priority. Connected devices need to integrate seamlessly into an environment which, right now, is dominated by non-IoT devices. When choosing to invest in IoT devices, neither business nor customers should notice the switch. It’s only with a good integration strategy that this will be made possible.

  1. Can chatbots help your customers?

It’s sometimes easy to forget that American tech giants only opened up use of their APIs to bot developers in 2015: which puts us on course to see a huge increase in 2017. There are already around 11,000 more chatbots now running on Facebook messenger (Forbes). If chatbot platforms are integrated into existing business systems, they will be able to help automate workflows and processes.

  1. Improve data analytics with artificial intelligence

The amount of data businesses are trying to digest is increasing. While humans have been pretty good at analysing data via models so far, there’s going to come a tipping point, where there’s so much data, coming from different angles, that it’s no longer possible to write models to analyse all of it. When this happens, AI will need to play a role in your business.

 

By Andres Richter, CEO, Priority Software