San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) May 06, 2013
During the wrenching economic recession of the last five years, many smaller companies cut back their technology investments including hardware purchases, software upgrades and on the adoption of new technology. Larger companies were not forced to make such deep cuts to their technology platforms and applications. Middle market companies must now play catch-up to keep pace with their larger competitors.
Despite the impression one gets from the media, many smaller companies are living, technologically speaking, in the era of Gunsmoke not Star Trek. Companies often lack an understanding of new technologies and their value. Few business owners have technical backgrounds. Even fewer technical people working for them have business backgrounds. The good news is that it’s not too late for the right technology consultant, who is expert in disciplines like databases, wireless technology and social media, to help catch up fast.
Social Media – Need to Catch Up
The University of Maryland's Smith School of Business recently looked at adoption of social media by smaller businesses.
The study concludes that only one in five smaller business owners are integrating social media into their business processes. That leaves four out of five companies not integrating social media into their business processes. Consider the ecosystem that these companies are failing to connect with:
- One billion people actively use Facebook every month
- 500,000 people use Twitter every month
- Google’s plus 1 button is used more than 2 billion times each day
- 5 million photos are uploaded to Instagram every hour
- 3,600 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every hour
A social media marketing program designed for a smaller company should center on creating content that attracts attention and encourages readers to share it with their own social networks. A well defined corporate message can spread from user to user, ascribed a high value because it comes from a trusted source as opposed to the company. Key social media goals for private companies include:
- General branding and company visibility
- Interaction with a target audience, to drive a compelling message or offer
- Driving traffic to the company Web site (make sure the web site is worth driving traffic to!)
- Marketing a new line of products or promoting a new product releases
- Capturing negative feedback--and taking immediate action to fix its causes.
Paradigm Shift – Cloud Computing
No longer are desktop computers and off-the-shelf software the norm. Hand held tablets, smart phones and mobile apps are not only the trend for consumers but are being widely adopted by companies for use in quality control tracking in factories, point-of-sale, warranty management and customer communication. This trend has been exploding due to the existence of the "Cloud."
The “Cloud” represents the most significant technology shift for smaller private companies. Cloud computing is the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet), thereby obviating the need for capital investment in technology. It is replacing the old model of use-based pricing. End users access cloud-based applications through a web browser or mobile app, while the business software and user's data are stored on servers at a remote location. Key advantages include:
- Achieve greater scale with fewer employees and little capital investment; cost is “by the drink”
- Go global at an earlier stage by deploying Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) technology not previously available to mid-sized companies
- Deploy on-line CRM and customer care to "re-personalize" customers’ experience and make relationships more “sticky”
- Use technology to bridge the gap between offline and online worlds
Private companies have an opportunity to compete more effectively with larger companies and level the playing field by deploying information technology that helps reach the market and operate more efficiently. Smart deployment of these emerging information technologies does not require large capital expenditures or expensive technical staff. Catching up will require judicious use of business consultants well-versed in applying these technologies and marketing strategies to the world of mid-market companies. There is no better time than the present to harness the power of technology to propel your company forward.
Newport Board Group is a partnership of board directors and senior executive leaders. We assist growth, middle market and private equity portfolio companies to navigate transitions and improve performance.
Michael Evans ((415) 990-1844) is Managing Director of the Northern California practice of the Newport Board Group.
Farhat Ali ((408) 623-2800) is a partner in the Northern California practice of the Newport Board Group.