Digital transformation projects are underway at many small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), but the typical company has not prioritized efforts including cloud, mobility, analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) when it comes to IT spending, according to IDC research.
"Digital transformation for SMBs is a hot topic for two reasons," said Kim McCumber, founder of Floodlight Training & Consulting. "First, the cost of technology has fallen significantly with the rise of cloud-based SaaS applications. This makes the tools far more accessible than they've been in the past. Second, the capabilities of these tools have increased exponentially. For example, the ability to actively review how a prospect has engaged with your brand over time is a gamechanger."
Many products on the market are helping SMBs move into the digital future. Here are 10 apps, tools, and platforms that may help with their digital journey.
Chatbots are perhaps the most promising tech tools available today for SMBs. Their ability to interact with customers, and answer basic questions and route inquiries appropriately, allow companies with limited staff to seem much larger and improve customer service—even providing 24/7 call center support when it would be impossible to hire enough people to do this.
SMBs gravitate toward Node.js when it comes to digital transformation because the platform allows them to use the same language on the front end and back end, allowing smaller development teams to spend less time rewriting code.
One of the original social media platforms used by more than 15 million people globally, the social media marketing and management platform Hootsuite can help SMBs take control of their social media presence.
Stripe builds economic infrastructure for the internet, allowing SMBs to accept online payments and run financial operations. Platforms commonly used by SMBs including Shopify and Squarespace can be built on top of the software.
Project management SaaS product Trello is key for digital efforts. The platform allows multiple teams across different working groups collaborate on projects, and manage multiple project pipelines.
Workplace messaging tool Slack has picked up a lot of steam in both enterprises and SMBs in recent years.
Slack is a great tool for SMBs, especially if team members or vendors are geographically scattered.It's great for communication and sharing files with one or multiple individuals at a company. It also integrates well with Zapier, a tool that can take a large number of SaaS platforms and connect them to work together.
Quick Base—a low-code platform for business users—can help non-tech professionals more easily create apps for their company.
Xero is a cloud-based accounting platform for small businesses, accountants and bookkeepers. The platform recently introduced Hey Xero, a Facebook messenger chatbot to help small businesses to find accountants and bookkeepers as well.