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Business has always been tied to the speed of information. Go back--way back--to the 1880s. From the telegraph to the Transatlantic Cable connecting the United States and Europe, to the telephone--information transfer got speedier with every innovation.

Fast forward to today. Advances in satellite, cellular, wireless, internet, and fiber optics give your small business fast data, audio, and video communications. Smartphones and text messages allow near instantaneous communication. But it doesn't stop there.

We now have an abundance of communication tools that use these technologies, to achieve more in business. Here are some ways you can use the increasing speed and efficiency of communication to help your business grow.

FAQs, knowledge bases, and live chat enable small business to be available 24/7.

Customers today expect businesses to be available nearly all hours. Delivering great customer service means being able to help people even when your employees are not working. Self-serve information such as frequently asked questions (FAQs) and a knowledge base help customers feel like they are getting information instantly. Live chat is another option. Hint: Artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled chat bots can interact with your customers whether you are open for business or closed for the day.

Unified Communications (UC) position you to respond quickly.

You can now unify all of the channels your customers use to communicate with you into a single, interconnected flow. Phone calls, emails, chat, and social media conversations can be integrated with UC solutions.

With UC, you can answer important calls, respond to messages, and view social media conversations no matter where you are--and see the full picture of interactions with your customers.

Collaborate instantly on commonly used platforms.

Collaboration tools can bring together colleagues, partners, and vendors to tackle projects from disparate locations and help everyone communicate faster. Hint: Consider popular solutions people are likely to already use, such as Skype and Slack. That way, you minimize learning curves.

Use Business Intelligence (BI) to get instant insights.

Using BI solutions, you can gain real-time access to information about your business. "Seeing" data in a certain way, instantly, helps you identify and manage risks quickly and make informed decisions in order to jump on opportunities. Today's BI solutions deliver insights orders of magnitude faster than older methods such as manually exporting information to spreadsheets or reports.

Automation increases efficiencies and speed.

Automation technology eliminates much of the manual processing--and slowness--of different business functions. Electronic workflow management, scheduling systems, data analysis, marketing automation, and advanced accounting are just some of today's solutions. Many have automation features built in and are sometimes enhanced with AI that can speed up getting information to the people who need it.

Social media management apps improve communications.

Managing social media can be time consuming. And outsourcing can be very expensive for a small business. Social media management solutions enable you to schedule updates, track your mentions, get alerts, and manage your presence, so you can engage with and communicate with your customers and the public faster and more efficiently. Some popular solutions include Hootsuite and Sprout Social.

Cloud sharing streamlines your business.

Cloud sharing allows employees to share information no matter where they are located, as long they have an internet connection. This type of service synchronizes a company's data to ensure the latest information is made available and everyone is on the same page at all times. And if there is a catastrophic failure, disaster recovery can be carried out immediately.  You can create your own public, private, or hybrid cloud ecosystem or use third-party providers such as Dropbox.

Get ready for 5G.

The arrival of 5G is greatly anticipated by operators, businesses, and consumers alike. The network promises to deliver incredibly low latency, up to gigabit speeds, and connectivity for billions of devices. This will accelerate the speed of mobile communications to new heights.

The technology will make small businesses more efficient and create new opportunities with the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual and augmented reality, human machine interaction, smart home and city services, and more.

Technological innovations have sped up our ability to communicate with others virtually anywhere in the world. Savvy businesses are keeping their eyes on this evolution and integrating them into their businesses.

Published on: Feb 26, 2018