In today’s innovative digital world, professionals and businesses can benefit enormously from the vast array of online tools at our disposal, boosting efficiency and productivity. However, most businesses are not getting the maximum benefit from these tools as there are so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to begin and which ones to use. Many people in business are faced with practical obstacles, such as lack of time to invest in integrating the tools and a lack of information around which ones might be effective and efficient for them. Oonagh McCutcheon from IE Domain Registry gives The Hardware Journal her Top Ten.
Cost is always an important factor. As a business owner or manager, you might feel that you cannot afford to invest in cutting-edge tech solutions, with budgets already strained. The good news is that many tools have free options available, as well as options to upgrade to premium packages with more advanced features. With a little research it’s not so difficult to figure out which tools might work best for each specific business, taking the sector, business size and requirements into account. The long-term rewards for integrating these tools can be huge, often saving time and money, as well as driving business growth.
While larger companies may need advanced and costly tech solutions to serve functions such as marketing, sales, customer service and internal operations, SMEs can take advantage of many similar solutions at low cost to fit within their budget. This applies in both B2B and B2C environments.
Oonagh has selected some of the best options to make up the IE Domain Registry top 10 tools to work smarter and grow faster. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, they believe this is a selection of practical, popular, and proven tools. More detailed information is available at www.iedr.ie/top-10-tools-to-work-smarter-and-grow-faster/.
If you need to share large files or documents with customers or suppliers, Dropbox is an excellent solution. Email platforms have size limits for attaching documents, and Dropbox allows you to send and share files quickly by digital means. Dropbox has computer apps for Microsoft Windows, Apple macOS and Linux computers, as well as mobile apps for smartphones and tablets. You can also automatically upload photos or videos from a range of devices. It offers the option of a free account (with a file storage limit), while Dropbox Business offers more advanced features and unlimited file space, for a monthly fee.
Slack is a great tool for team collaboration, which operates like a large chat room for a whole team. It can largely replace email as the team’s main Method of communication and information sharing. Its workspaces allow communications to be organised by topic and private groups, for sharing information and files in one place.
If you need to create visual content such as social media graphics, presentations, posters and other assets, Canva is a brilliant graphic design tool. It has an extensive range of beautiful-looking templates for business flyers, brochures, business cards, logos, posters, infographics, and more. Strong presentation and visual identity are vital in business, and with Canva you can really elevate the visual side of your brand at little or no cost.
Team members often need to work on one part of a larger project and a tool to manage an overall project is Asana. This very practical tool helps teams to manage projects and tasks within one platform. It is designed to improve teamwork and streamlines work management, therefore helping to boost efficiency. Teams can create projects, assign work to colleagues, specify deadlines, and send messages about tasks directly in the system.
Zendesk is a great platform for helping a business to connect with customers on any channel, including phone, chat, email, and social media. The cloud-based customer support platform unifies customer interactions in one simple platform, tracking support requests and answering questions from customers quickly.
Hootsuite is a social media management platform where digital marketers can manage multiple social media channels and tools. It brings great organisation and structure to this process, so it’s a real time-saver. Hootsuite supports social network integrations for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.
Google Calendar and Google Hangouts
Many office-based professionals plan their days and weeks using their Google Calendar, setting meetings, and blocking off time for individual tasks and projects. Aside from personal scheduling, it’s a quick and easy way to set up meetings, allowing you to send invitations to colleagues or clients. It also allows you to include the meeting location and add a
description of the meeting or agenda.
Email is a key marketing channel for many businesses, as it’s a great way of connecting with your customer base, bring them information, news and offers. Mailchimp is an excellent email marketing tool – a popular option with large and small companies alike. It facilitates and manages digital communication and marketing with clients and customers, providing well designed campaigns and powerful data analysis.
DocuSign allows professionals and organisations to manage agreements and contracts electronically. The service offers eSignature, a quick way to sign electronically on various devices. Speed is an essential factor here, with digital agreements cutting out the delay of physically posting and returning documents. Apart from saving workload (printing, scanning, and mailing documents etc.), it ensures deals get over the line and is very convenient.
We all know the difficulty of scheduling a meeting where multiple people need to be involved. It can result in endless emails and phone calls to arrange a time to suit everyone. This is where Doodle Poll comes in. The organiser simply sends a list of time and date options to all parties, who then indicate what suits them.
In conclusion, digital tools really can be your ‘invisible employee’, saving time and money, as well as growing customer numbers and loyalty. Customers today want seamless convenience so it’s important for SMEs to be able to offer it to them. If a business can leverage tools to work smarter, the time invested to introduce and integrate will be paid back many times over. The customer experience can also be improved, boosting brand, reputation, and revenue. Clever use of digital tools can streamline and improve efficiency within a business, while also freeing up much-needed time for you to concentrate on other important areas of the business.