News November 2011.

How can the Internet really improve your business?

It’s widely accepted that now most business cannot operate without an internet connection, and preferably a good quality and reliable internet connection. Even industries such as manufacturing or trades have an element of their business operation that benefits from internet access. Some ‘internet-enabled’ business functions are now commonplace, such as communication via email and access to internet banking services. Unfortunately, the internet presence of many small business stops at a basic website and sub standard internet connection. This month we look at a few others way that your business could take advantage of the internet.

Savvy consumers turn to the internet to check out the pedigree of a business, so it’s important to stand out from your competitors. An ‘online chat’ on your site would enable your prospective clients to ask a question & receive an immediate answer, provided by someone in a sales or administration role. Video content on your site (or linked to from YouTube) is great for engaging people instead of pages of text. Also, regular email marketing campaigns and newsletters are an easy way to keep in touch with prospects that aren’t quite ready to buy from you just yet. If a change to any of your website’s content means a call to your I.T. provider, look at a ‘content management’ based platform that allows you to make changes to text and post news updates without any coding knowledge.

Once reserved only for large corporations with big budgets, there are now a number of affordable solutions which allow secure remote access for your staff into your business network, to either access their files or even control their entire office computer and applications. This can give your staff a greater degree of flexibility with their work hours, leading to greater productivity. You could even consider ‘cloud storage’ or hosting of your business information to make your office ‘virtual’ and accessible from wherever you have an internet connection. Keep in touch with your remote workers with video conferencing software and an inexpensive internet camera and microphone. This virtual team concept can be extended to include your clients and suppliers too, removing geographical boundaries. If sharing files like documents or photographs with your contacts could improve your business, ignore the attachment size limits imposed on most email systems and look at an alternative solution for easy, secure file sharing.

Seek out suppliers and educational institutions that use the internet for online presentations (or webinars). These can be watched from the comfort of your own computer and may include a chat option if they are live. Some webinars are recorded, allowing you to inform or upskill yourself at your own pace, at convenient times. Could your clients benefit from a webinar group training presentation on your products or services too?
The internet can also supplement traditional I.T practices. It enables fast, remote support from your Computer Troubleshooter who can connect to see your error message first-hand, without having to drive to your location. It also allows for secure backups of your critical information to another location ‘offsite’, without having to transport hard disks or tapes. And if you haven’t looked at the cost savings of ‘Voice over IP’ yet, it’s worth considering instead of your traditional telephone service.
For a reliable and quality internet connection you will need to avoid the lure of looking for the best price and instead look for the best value, customer service and support. For all internet connection services we use and recommend Internode.

If this sounds a little daunting and you don’t know where to start, talk to your local Computer Troubleshooter for helping squeezing as much benefit as you can from the internet, or for any of your technology needs.