How SMEs can benefit from rapid advances in technology

Render illustration of computer keyboard with the print Emerging Technologies on two adjacent green buttons

Life has never been easy for small-business owners. From finding the right staff to chasing up slow payers, the list of challenges often seems never ending.

The challenges are exacerbated by knowing that while the big end of town faces similar issues it has a plethora of tools and endless resources to address them. This simply isn’t possible for SMEs, leaving them competing on an uneven playing field. Or, that used to be the case, but rapid advances in technology are helping to level the playing field allowing forward-thinking SMEs to use digital tools to simplify costly and time-consuming processes.

Take advertising as an example. In the past, big budgets dictated visibility and SMEs couldn’t look past advertising in the local paper. The emergence of social media and digital advertising transformed reach and opportunities, allowing anyone with a computer and social media account to advertise to anyone in the world, with the right targeting strategy. This has liberated thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs who can now reach niche markets with tailored products and services.

Advances in cloud computing mean we are on the cusp of another revolution for SMEs which will create significant efficiencies and unleash resources that are currently tied up doing repetitive administrative tasks. Xero and MYOB are the pacesetters in this space, which have quickly scaled and become essential tools for many business.

At Paytron, we have used cloud-based solutions to build a cashflow management and payment platform, which manages invoicing, payments and foreign exchange in one place. The platform is fully integrated into Xero, building on its services and allowing SMEs to use one system to do several often tedious accounting activities.

We built the platform after witnessing the massive advantages big business has in its accounting and administration functions and realising that technology solutions existed to bring these efficiencies to SMEs, which have most to gain.

These technology solutions are challenging the banks, which are responding by evolving their own service offerings. However, as most business owners will know, the traditional finance industry has left SMEs underserviced and with extensive legacy systems they won’t be able to change quickly.

We’ve seen Afterpay and its cohort of buy-now-pay-later firms do this in the consumer finance space. They have disrupted the inefficient business models of credit card giants that overcharged and underdelivered and replaced them with a low-cost product that consumers love.

SMEs can expect a similar array of technology-driven solutions in the coming months and years, providing business tools which were once the preserve of big players. By embracing the technological shift, small-businesses owners can be liberated to focus on growing their businesses.