A young woman in a high-tech automotive parts factory watches a robotic arm drill holes in a car part. The woman has dark blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail, and she wears a black T-shirt, black pants, and blue rubber gloves. The factory room is cavernous with white walls, bright overhead lights, and red metal beams partitioning the floor into different areas.
Robotic process software works much like robotic hardware. These systems automate certain repetitive tasks, freeing up time for employees to tackle more complex workflows. — Getty Images/Monty Rakusen

Technology plays a vital role in supporting small businesses, helping them save valuable time and resources to focus on big-picture priorities.

As technology continues its rapid advancement, several promising business tech tools have made their way to the market. Here are five emerging tech tools your small business should keep an eye on.

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Robotic process automation software

Robotic process automation (RPA) uses software robots to automate repetitive, rule-based tasks. This software has seen increasing adoption in the past few years. In Deloitte’s 2022 Global Intelligent Automation survey, 74% of survey respondents reported using RPA within their organizations.

Businesses can use RPA software to tackle processes like inputting or extracting data, sending emails, or making decisions based on existing data sets. RPA software UiPath highlights use cases for businesses ranging from automating medical invoices to providing 24/7 customer service availability.

When tasks are automated through RPA, employees have more time and capacity for higher-level responsibilities like complex reasoning and innovation. IBM allows users to build both unattended and attended bots, letting them tackle repetitive tasks while employees take over and contribute human insight as needed.

Easy client payment solutions

A range of payment options makes it easier for customers to complete transactions, thereby improving their experience and the likelihood of returning. Mobile payment solutions — those that allow businesses to accept payments digitally through a smartphone or tablet — have become increasingly popular for their convenience and flexibility.

Technologies that support mobile payments include:

  • Card-not-present payments, or entering credit card information online to complete a transaction. WigWag allows businesses to send branded checkout links where customers can input and save their card information.
  • Card readers, including swipe and chip reader attachments for mobile devices. Stripe, in addition to integrating with various e-commerce platforms for card-not-present payments, offers a terminal for various mobile payment options.
  • Digital wallet apps, like Apple Wallet and Google Pay, save a user’s credit card information on-device and can be scanned or tapped for instant payment.

With cloud-based software solutions, employees can more easily collaborate and connect with clients and customers from any location.

Streamlined social media management

Social media can help your business connect with customers, build brand recognition and loyalty, and address reputational risks (such as negative press or customer complaints). However, maintaining a strong social media presence can be time- and resource-intensive.

Small businesses can use technology to streamline their social media management processes. Tools like Sprout Social can integrate with multiple platforms for all-in-one social media scheduling, publishing, monitoring, and data analytics. You can also use social media management tools for strategic analysis; Metricool, for instance, allows you to analyze your competitors as well as influencers for marketing campaigns.

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Effortless HR management

A smooth employee hiring and onboarding process can attract top talent and set new employees up for success. HR software can help small businesses easily manage the entire new hire process, from attracting the right candidate to onboarding. For example, Homebase allows you to post job descriptions, screen applicants, schedule interviews, and send onboarding documentation on-platform.

Once employees are in the door, HR software can streamline the employee benefits process by automating tasks like enrollment and updating information, and ensuring legal compliance. Rippling provides a unified platform for a range of mandatory and optional employee benefits, easily accessible to employers and employees alike.

Secure cloud-based solutions

Cloud computing services can help your business securely store and access data, software, and apps without using physical servers. With cloud-based software solutions, employees can more easily collaborate and connect with clients and customers from any location. Additionally, backing up your data in the cloud — the worldwide network of remote servers that stores and manages data — protects your business information if a device is compromised or a system fails.

If your business manages a high volume of documents, Microsoft Azure provides cloud-based access to the Microsoft Office suite, and OneDrive for secure file sharing. Another option is Google Cloud Hosting, with features ranging from data storage and collaboration to app development tools. Amazon Web Services also comes with the ability to create cloud-based apps, along with robust data privacy and compliance features to keep your operations secure.

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CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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