While technology has drastically changed the way business is done, the value of effective SMB communication hasn’t changed. Or, said another way, you can’t get things done if you can’t communicate.
That’s always been true. It will always be true.
You probably already know that from experience. But if you need stats to back up our claim, here they are. Research cited in Forbes indicates organizations that promote collaboration are five times as likely to be high-performing. Not only that, but employees who work collaboratively are 64 percent more productive than their non-collaborative peers.
As the workplace evolves, the companies that adopt the best options for SMB communication will gain a competitive advantage.
IDC researchers predict that by 2020, up to 75 percent of the American workforce could working remotely at least part of the time. Keeping up with the latest communication trends enables SMBs to boost collaboration, tap into remote talent sources, and streamline productivity at literally every level.
Organizations that promote collaboration are five times as likely to be high-performing. – Forbes
The top 9 types of SMB Communication tools
Cloud apps and tools offer flexible, affordable and highly-scalable ways to improve SMB communication. That’s why so many SMBs are adopting them. In fact, an estimated 94 percent of U.S. SMBs relying on at least one cloud app to do business.
As demand for cloud apps increases, tons of new SMB communication apps have been launched. But you don’t need all of them. Some of them will even slow your business down.
To help you pick the right options for your business, you need to understand your options. Read on to discover the best types of tools to enhance your SMB with chat messaging, video conferencing, file sharing and more.
1. Chat messaging
Messenger apps are everywhere. In 2018, WhatsApp and Messenger had a combined 2.6 billion active monthly users.
Your employees are already using chat-based apps for personal communication, which is why tools like Slack and Teams can significantly enhance real-time SMB communication. Compared to email, chat messaging apps can provide a flexible, lightweight format for discussion and file-sharing on both desktop and mobile devices.
2. Video conferencing
Behavioral research indicates that over 90 percent of effective communication is nonverbal.
Video conferencing tools enable your staff to communicate more effectively by providing an engaging format for team meetings. Video conferencing apps such as Skype, GoToMeeting, and others may also deliver RIO by lowering business travel expenses.
If you don’t have to travel to have an effective connection, that’s money back in your pocket.
“Once you’ve reassessed your collaboration strategy, you’ll likely find yourself embracing, rather than rejecting, tools like video conferencing, webcasting, live chat, mobile meeting technology as well as traditional conference calling and even SMS and text messaging. . .” – CIO
3. Screen sharing
Applications for screen-sharing can support team collaboration by allowing employees to present information to a remote audience and streamline helpdesk troubleshooting.
Some video conferencing apps, such as Skype and WebEx, offer built-in screen sharing features.
4. File sharing
File sharing apps can support secure data-sharing. File sharing apps and features can enable employees to collaboratively view, edit and comment on files which are synced to the cloud.
“The key to this [breakthrough] level of communication is simple—high-quality video systems, group messaging and encrypted file sharing.” – Wired
5. Mobile apps
Ninety percent of U.S. workers report their professional habits have changed as the result of mobile applications and technology. Mobile-empowered workers log 240 more hours of work each year than their non-mobile counterparts. That’s an average of 5 hours each week.
Adopting mobile applications to streamline and unify SMB communication can increase productivity and reduce costs.
6. Cloud email, calendar and documents
A unified set of tools for email, documents, and spreadsheets can enable the SMB to redefine workflows in the cloud while simplifying data storage and backup requirements.
7. Project management
Lightweight apps for project management and task tracking can centralize project communications and create transparency around collaborative efforts.
8. Time management
In a flexible, distributed workforce, effectively tracking employee time can be a challenge. SMBs in professional services who bill hours against client accounts may have a particularly strong use case for dedicated apps for time management and tracking.
Apps such as Toggl or HubStaff can allow employees to easily attribute hours worked to active projects. Time management solutions can create transparency and opportunities for improvement based on productivity patterns.
“It’s key to manage time wisely to not get burnt out or lose your work/life balance.” – TechRepublic
The traditional, paper-based list of tasks have largely been replaced with apps. Not only are mobile and desktop apps for personal and team organization more flexible and collaborative for multiple users, but they’re also much harder to misplace than paper lists.
Depending on your needs, you may opt for apps such as Evernote, or stick with project management-focused solutions like Trello or Asana.
Streamline your SMB communication
When it comes to enhancing SMB communication, there’s little question that cloud-based apps offer an advantage.
According to Capterra research, small businesses can stand to benefit significantly from a more scalable infrastructure, simpler software administration, mobility, analytics and better disaster-recovery by moving to the cloud.
With smart tools that fulfill multiple purposes and centralize employee communications, small businesses can really lean into the advantages of unified business communications in the cloud.