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These are the tech tools every SME should know about for the future

Digital gurus have given us all their top tips. Spoiler: Does not include any Back to the Future-style flying cars.

SMALL BUSINESSES ARE “leaving money on the table” if they don’t take advantage of the tech tools that can get them ahead in today’s digital marketplace.

But Irish small and medium enterprises (SMEs) still have a lot of catching up to do if they’re going to connect with the world of customers waiting for them, tech experts have said.

John Beckett, the co-founder of Irish e-commerce business ChannelSight, told most consumers were now technology-savvy and had easy access to data – which meant they were demanding better links with wherever they spent their money.

“Small businesses that aren’t taking advantage of all the services that are available to make that connection are losing out,” he said.

Irish businesses have a lot of catching up to do, particularly small businesses that aren’t online, taking payments and using online services.

“Particularly in Ireland, for some frustrating reason, when they finally get online they think ‘OK, job done’, whereas really that’s just the starting point.”

Beckett will be among a group of panellists at a breakfast meeting on tech trends for SMEs to launch this year’s Fingal Enterprise Week, which starts on 6 October.

He said there were a string of easy-to-use tools he would recommend for small businesses looking to make the most of their online presence.

Five of John’s best for SMEs

  • Zopim – an internet chat service connecting businesses and customers in real-time via company websites
  • Stripe – a quick electronic-payment addon for websites and apps
  • Unbounce – an easy website builder which also lets users do quick back-to-back comparisons between two potential landing pages
  • Crazy Egg – creates a “heatmap” on a webpage to show where customers do and don’t click
  • LocalSocial – readies apps up with location-based services so they can push information based on the products a customer stands near, for example

Google Glass, IoT and O-Desk

Technology commentator Andy O’Donoghue, who will also sit on the panel, said wearable technology like Google Glass could be a powerful tool for SMEs operating in fields from distribution to retail.

Stock could be registered in a location via GPS and that information could be fed direct to customers as they walked by on the street, he said.

O’Donoghue also singled out the Internet of Things (IoT) – a catch-all term for the interconnection of everyday objects – as a potential game-changer in everything “from rental cars to rental cots”.

“It’s about people looking inside themselves and their organisations and saying ‘this is a great product we have, but how can we make it better for our customers’,” he said.

O’Donoghue said services like oDesk, which markets itself as the “world’s largest online workplace”, meant SMEs could easily and cheaply outsource virtually any service they needed.

“Small businesses have never had the opportunity that they have now,” he said.

READ: Turns out Google Glass doesn’t make texting while driving any safer

READ: Your items and appliances may be getting smarter, but they’re far from safe

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