Technology: great for consumers, but great for growing a business? Recently, a bunch of experts from The Silicon Roundabout chimed in on how they thought tech would supercharge business growth.
Let’s take a look at what they said.
Analytics tech helps inform the direction of growth
The world of cheap data and analytics have exploded. Now even the lowliest start-up has access to rich data that even the biggest companies in the world couldn’t get hold of 20 years ago. Sam Adlen, the head of innovation at a satellites communications company said that analytics and data are helping to make growing a business much easier.
He points out that these days, it’s a lot easier to understand who’s driving your business and where growth is coming from. Datastreams allow businesses, especially tech businesses, to monitor their performance in real time, gaining insights that were simply impossible before. It’s like survey feedback, but “on steroids.”
Adlen points out that data and metrics can be used for almost any purpose, from financial performance to marketing to social media. Tools like Google Analytics help businesses to see how customers are coming to them, plotting their conversion paths and optimizing those routes.
Prototype tech makes product cycles shorter
Launching a new product model has traditionally been difficult. Factories need to be retooled, prototypes need to be built (often at great expense) and designs need to be drawn up. But according to Teresa Rico, small business lead at Future Cities, that’s all about to change.
She says that new rapid prototyping methods, using 3D printing and other rapid solutions, are allowing startups to test elements of their product in the early stages, without having to wait for full prototype versions. Prototypes can be modified throughout their development, thanks to much lower development costs and quicker turnaround times. Startups can grow faster by having short product cycles and implementing new innovations as soon as they become available.
Ecommerce is simpler for the customer when you choose the right technologies
Ecommerce websites are dogged by the fact that their checkouts are hard and often time-consuming to navigate. People want to be able to log on, browse for what they want, click a button, and have it immediately sent in the post to their address. But, as Andy Gambles, founder of an IT company, points out, not all ecommerce sites are set up with customer simplicity in mind.
Instead, they attempt to do things like upsell customers on new products and make the checkout experience as difficult as possible. He says that the majority of ecommerce businesses need to take cues from companies like Amazon, emulating the simplicity of the Amazon checkout process, and introducing features, like Prime, which help make that process as easy as possible.
Technology helps build a marketing database
Data is the key ingredient for a successful marketing campaign, says Brian Lavery, a partnership manager at social media giant, Twitter. He says that companies that are able to successfully leverage data through clever choice of data sources are best placed to market, brand, and design their product for their audience. With colocation pricing coming down, it’s never been easier for companies to store their data a third-party data center, making this a viable option for most startups.
With the right data in place, Lavery says that it becomes easy to track the efficacy of your marketing campaigns. Startups with real-time data are able to experiment with different marketing methods to find out which offer the best bang for their buck.
Technology helps you look bigger than you are
Roger Vigilance is the marketing director of the company, Vonage. He says that startups should try to look bigger than they are if they want to grow. Looking bigger than you actually are is an excellent way to convince clients that you’re able to take on big contracts and that you have the resources to deliver.
He says that it’s imperative to make sure that you handle incoming calls appropriately. That means having some kind of system whereby you can easily forward calls and voicemails to the relevant people in your team. VoIP systems are able to do just that, thanks to the fact that they marry the flexibility of the internet with the traditional phone system.
Many of these systems are also available as cloud services, meaning that there is often no need at the business end to install expensive physical machinery. If you’ve got a computer and a phone, you’re ready to go.
You can test new markets with better technology
Getting involved in new markets can often be a tricky business. For starters, the legal environment is often very different, especially when it comes to things like intellectual property rights. Then, of course, there is the fact that the culture is also very different. Marketing that works well in one country might fall flat on its face in another. Charlotte Semler, creative director at a design company, suggests using Amazon as a platform for testing new international markets.
Amazon is an excellent testbed for international markets, she says, because the company already provides all the infrastructure startup sellers need to find out what works in individual markets and what doesn’t. Once companies have used Amazon’s systems to find out more about a particular market, they can then launch their own efforts in that country in the knowledge that there is a demand for their products.
You can target communities online with the right tools
The internet is full of unique and exciting communities of people with shared interests and values. There are forums for everything, from surviving a nuclear winter to grooming your pet cat. Benjamin Robbins, co-founder of Palador, says that companies need to find out where their market is digitally engaged and then move to provide content to those communities.
Many investment companies, for instance, engage with their community through independent financial commentators on YouTube. Robbins says that trust is best built over time through a wide variety of channels. Companies that create the best awareness, he says, are those that engage with their communities on social media, blogs, and video.