Putting Technology to Work for Your Small Business

IT Business Net

Small business owners from all industries have deployed technology solutions to improve efficiency, achieve a competitive advantage, save money and boost profits. Take Chris Alpers, manager of Lake Leelanau, Mich.-based Redpath Orchards and Alpers Farm, for example. When Alpers decided to use a wireless GPS device to the planting on his fruit farm, he knew there would be immediate returns.

 Improved Efficiency

Alpers’ first goal was to ensure that the horizontal rows in his cherry and apple orchards were straight. He mounted a GPS receiver on top of his tractor and a installed a monitor inside the cab so that the driver could see a picture of the tractor as it was being driven. He then attached an adaptor to the steering wheel, and with the aid of a computer, the driver can manually make adjustments to the rows as needed. This simple improvement made mowing and pruning quicker and easier. Alpers didn’t stop there, however. He soon discovered that the same GPS technology could be used to ensure that the spacing between trees was consistent, saving Alpers and his team additional time.

Indeed, GPS systems have helped small business owners in industries ranging from retail to trucking to construction improve efficiency. For companies in the delivery business, for example, networking and IT technologies can help decrease time spent on record-keeping by eliminating the need for paper logs and also optimize delivery schedules, which can help them add at least one extra job or stop per vehicle per day. Commonly known as machine to machine (M2M) solutions, these electronic devices connect such things as power meters, trucks, containers, cars, pipelines, wind farm turbines and vending machines so they can benefit from alerts or two-way communications. Vendors like U.S. Cellular, for example, offer an array of M2M business solutions with functionality ranging from fleet management to remote monitoring to meet multiple system needs.

Cost Savings and Increased Profits

Besides improving efficiency, investing in technology can also help small businesses save money and boost profits. According to a study by the Boston Consulting Group, among small and medium sized business, “technology leaders increased their annual revenues 15 percentage points faster than companies with lower levels of technology adoption and created jobs almost twice as fast as other small businesses from 2010 through 2012.”

Alpers estimates that the technological enhancements he has made so far for his business have saved him an estimated $10,000 a year.

Competitive Advantage

Alpers recognized early on that his investment and adoption of new technology was going to differentiate him from his competitors for equipment and innovations that have yet to come on the market, such as tools that will aid in harvesting apples and shaking cherries. “It’s important for us that we are set up now for technology that will become available in the future,” says Alpers. “It’s worked out great. We’re starting to see some of those things pay off.”

Like Alpers discovered, new applications of existing technology may exist for your small business that will not only help you improve productivity and increase profits today, but also position you to adapt more quickly 10 years from now.

Category: Savings and Tools