Top 10 technologies for SMBs

We take a look at the business technologies that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can use in 2010 to reduce costs, improve efficiency and encourage growth.

Businesses using Twitter and Facebook as well as other social networking sites can potentially pull thousands of new customers through to their home pages by tapping into these free resources.

In this sense then, the social networking phenomenon has provided SMBs with a free marketing vehicle that allows it to target specific groups of people that may be interested in its products and services.

"Social networking has found new forms of expression on the internet which has helped to reshape the purpose and protocols of social networking in the online world and beyond. How to apply this in a corporate environment will be the next major challenge," said Julia Lin, project manager of research data and analytics at Gartner, in a statement.

Green IT

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Everybody, including those in the business world, is "going green". Whether this is because of global warming, taxes, or savings is anyone's guess. But, in the context of businesses, SMBs can stand to make some considerable savings by making business processes that little bit greener.

Gartner suggests that businesses can become greener by keeping documents electronic. In short, keep memos, letters, mail and brochures electronic. Not only will this create savings on stationary and printers, but it will ensure that workers always have electronic copies of important documents either on their smartphones, laptops, or in their email accounts.

Smart grids are another option, but this is something perhaps a little further down the line. Smart grids make sure that individuals and businesses only use the energy they need. And while this may take some time before it is adopted en masse, the State of California has reportedly already saved $44 million through the use of Smart grids.

Advanced analytics

SMBs now have an arsenal of tools, such as CRM and ERP systems, readily available to them that can help optimise and simulate business processes and decisions well before they're executed. Granted, some of these tools are expensive, but there is always the open source option for businesses with limited capital.

According to Gartner research, "The new step is to provide simulation, prediction, optimisation and other analytics, not simply information, to empower even more decision flexibility at the time and place of every business process action. The new step looks into the future, predicting what can or will happen."

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