With improvements in cloud technology spreading like wild, small businesses are in a position where they can take advantage of these advancements. They can leverage tools that will help them run their business more effectively from anywhere at anytime, gain real-time insights into their performance and streamline their selling and customer service initiatives.

Considering almost half of small businesses don't have a website, maybe not all businesses are utilizing the wealth of smart technologies at their disposal. Here are three to get you started.

Mobile management apps

For small business owners, being awake used to be the prerequisite for making money. Now through mobile management apps like Square, that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. Square enables business owners to take payments both online, while they sleep, and in their brick-and-mortar stores. Square's credit card readers are able to accept EMV chip cards, and with laws now mandating the use of EMV-compliant credit card terminals, it's vital for small businesses to use this technology at their retail stores.

The capabilities of mobile management apps like Square do not end with payment processing. Square's point-of-sale software enables business owners to track sales online and in-store, send invoices and manage employee time-tracking. The ability to manage their business wherever they may be gives business owners the ultimate flexibility, while still maintaining the level of visibility they would have on-the-ground.

Big data

No industry is immune to the value of big data. And it's no wonder, people are generating more data than ever before. Organizations from major league baseball teams to social media behemoths leverage the aggregated data set in order to make more informed business decisions. What used to only be available to large enterprises is now at the fingertips of small business owners thanks to the affordability and usability of reporting tools like Crunchboards and Microsoft Power BI.

With Microsoft Power BI, business owners can monitor their whole business on one dashboard, pulling in important data from all the apps they rely on including cloud accounting software, CRM software and web analytics tools. Business owners can create tailored dashboards and reports. By knowing where your efforts are best focused, whether that be spending cash or time, you'll have the ability to increase performance. Crunchboards is an all-in-one reporting and forecasting solution that enables business owners to plan for the future using real-time data. Create full 3-way forecasts to apply for funding, visualize multiple scenarios and make decisions without the risk.

A.I.

A.I. is no longer the science fiction fixture it once was. Machine learning is taking enterprise by storm, and by leveraging technology that can predict the probable future, businesses can offer intuitive solutions for all of their customers' needs. It's this technology that powers chatbots and personal assistants who converse using voice recognition.

It has been predicted that Echo and Alexa will generate more than $11 billion in revenue for Amazon's e-commerce branch. $7 billion of this estimated total will reportedly come from purchases made on Amazon.com via Echo. And while consumers can make purchases using A.I., including ordering a pizza or an Uber, it won't end there. Businesses will be able to answer their customer's questions without lifting a finger, using chatbots that are built into tools like Facebook Messenger. It's an innovation that the social media giant is taking a huge bet on, they want to build more than 1.5 billion A.I. agents - that's one for every person that uses the social media platform and its products.

Modern technology is a game-changer for small businesses. Small business owners have access to more data, more advanced machines and have the flexibility to run their businesses more efficiently from wherever they are.

Published on: Oct 10, 2016