Technology solutions for lowering costs and helping your business grow

Investing in technology can provide smaller businesses with a competitive edge, reduce costs, and save time.

From accounting software that can streamline administering invoices to e-commerce software that helps remove the hassle of taking online payments, technology innovations could provide smaller businesses with powerful functionality without the high costs.

While many businesses have embraced everyday technologies such as email or online communications platforms, the Centre for Policy Studies found that nearly a quarter (22%) of smaller companies don't use digital platforms such as Google or LinkedIn.

The same survey found that almost half (49%) of smaller companies felt that technologies helped them compete against larger brands.

Help to Grow: Digital

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched an initiative to support smaller businesses' adoption of digital technologies and software.

The Help to Grow: Digital Initiative offers eligible smaller businesses discounts on software of up to 50% or £5,000.

Software included in the scheme consists of accounting, customer relationship management (CRM), and e-commerce solutions.

Seven digital technologies to help lower costs

Choosing the right technology may help your business grow, reduce costs, and reduce the need for environmentally harmful activities such as office printing or physical storage space.

1. Digital marketing technologies

There are digital tools available to make marketing more efficient and effective, from technology for building an e-commerce website and helping it appear in search engine results to software that makes it easier to create email marketing campaigns.

Popular examples include Shopify and WooCommerce for websites, Hootsuite for social media marketing, and Canva for creating marketing materials.

Many tools provide access to training and support.

2. Cyber security technologies

Some technologies help reduce hidden costs, such as the fallout from a cyber attack or the need to ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster.

According to a report by OGL, 51% of small and medium-sized businesses cited cyber security threats as the main reason for adopting technology.

Cyber security software includes tools to keep your business data safe with remote back-ups, firewalls to prevent unauthorised access to company networks, and monitoring software to prevent malware and other attacks.

The National Centre for Cyber Security has a helpful guide for businesses.

3. Remote working

Online platforms allowing teams to collaborate, share files, and communicate can reduce travel and workspace costs, and lead to greater efficiencies.

A survey by the Office for National Statistics found that most workers were able to work faster and with fewer distractions when working from home.

Technologies such as Microsoft Teams, Google Workspace, and Zoom enable businesses to cheaply deploy office software such as word processors, spreadsheets, virtual whiteboards, and video conferencing calls for a monthly fee.

4. CRM platforms

Having a joined-up view of a customer can help drive cost efficiencies.

Modern CRM software such as HubSpot can handle various tasks, ensuring that the activities are completed with minimal overhead.

Possible applications for these services include communication with customers, combining sales and marketing data, and using stock control data to effectively manage inventory and logistics.

5. Cloud computing

While many technologies exist as on-demand services such as remote storage, cloud computing allows smaller companies to access computing power and resources when needed.

This means computing-intensive businesses, from app developers to real estate planners, can tap into additional processing power to run high-performance modelling software or virtualisation software for testing apps on different operating systems, for example.

Cloud computing prevents buying and running hardware that isn't fully utilised and saves energy by only using computing power when required.

6. 5G networks

Up to 100 times faster than 4G mobile broadband, 5G offers superfast mobile broadband to various devices.

This allows businesses to monitor processes and systems, such as automated manufacturing, more quickly and cost-effectively.

The mobile speed boost may also herald a surge in technology adoption, such as virtual reality and mixed reality, enabling cost-effective learning and training for organisations.

7. Automation and artificial intelligence

Many new business technologies are incorporating artificial intelligence – known as 'machine learning' – and automation.

These innovations use a wide range of cues, such as a customer question about a product, and automatically select the most relevant answer.

Automation can be found in business tools such as website chatbots that handle basic customer questions without human input, reducing overheads through automated data collection, and processing.

Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

Making business finance work for you

Our Making business finance work for you guide is designed to help you make an informed choice about accessing the right type of finance for you and your business.

Read the guide to making business finance work for you

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