By some accounts, I am a dinosaur. I remember a simpler time with respect to technology and the workplace. I started my big corporate career in the mid-1990s, the halcyon era from tech stalwarts IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, PeopleSoft, and other blue chip brands. Sure, they were back office, CRM, and productivity apps designed for the small business. However, those apps were generally less powerful and contained less functionality than the ones used by large companies. In short, small could just not compete with big. Fast forward to today: the landscape could not be more different. In this guest post, I discuss the the value and necessity of small business selecting high quality solutions.
For small businesses across the board, the days of having to settle for inferior technology have long since passed. Consider CRM for a moment. Many small businesses used apps such as Act or Goldmineback in the day. Yes these are still around, but they’re hardly the only viable options for small businesses. Just off the top of my head, Zoho CRM, NetSuite, Salesforce.com, HighRise are four popular and powerful tools allowing companies to manage their customers, sales, contacts, and leads. Don’t like the SaaS model? No worries. Check out SugarCRM, a popular open source alternative. But let’s say that you’re not happy with the existing SaaS and OS alternatives. Again, if you’re so inclined, you can download software development kits and build whatever you like. This is exactly what RedSeven did, a company profiled in The New Small. The company then deployed the app in the cloud, allowing its employees to access key data and apps anywhere at any time. Don’t know how to program? No worries. Do what Colin Hickey and his business partner did. When founding PeerPoint, the company outsourced development to a development shop. Using collaborative tools such as Video Skype and basing the core product of off Drupal, the company created a robust product in a fraction of the time and cost that one would have expected even five years ago.
Of course, with all of these choices, it’s easy for one to be intimidated. I hope to show you that this isn’t rocket science. What’s more, based on the freemium model, it’s quite easy to test drive an app to see if you like it and it makes sense for your little company. Again, this just wasn’t possible back in the day. Brass tacks: If you feel that your company could do more with emerging technologies, you’re probably right. Whether you buy my new book or not, rest assured that there is simply no reason to suffer with deficient apps and technologies. Those that fight change and cling to antiquated systems and processes are bound to fail behind. Don’t make that mistake.
Phil Simon is the author of three books: The New Small: How a New Breed of Small Businesses Is Harnessing the Power of Emerging Technologies, (Motion, 2010), Why New Systems Fail (Cengage, 2010) and The Next Wave of Technologies (John Wiley & Sons, 2010). A recognized technology expert, he consults companies on how to optimize their use of technology. His contributions have been featured on The Globe and Mail, the American Express Open Forum, ComputerWorld, ZDNet, abcnews.com, forbes.com, The New York Times, ReadWriteWeb, and many other sites.