Seven ways SMEs can be innovative

Office workers using tech
Bright future: new technology can help to motivate staff and make your business more efficient Credit: Getty


As the success of the UK’s financial technology sector shows, small and medium-sized businesses have an advantage when it comes to adapting to new technology: they’re quick on their feet.

Leveraging new technology as fast and efficiently as possible can help these companies grow and maintain a skilled, coherent workforce. Here are some innovative things to try.

1. Gamification

For motivation

The recent Pokemon Go craze shows just how motivating we find playing games, and using this motivation in the workplace can pep up your employees too.

Called Enterprise Gamification, it’s not about cute video game characters, but about using technology such as the GamEffective workplace platform to set up personalised goals and benchmarks for staff. This can help ensure employees are motivated to perform well.

2. New payment technology

For money-savng

Fintech is changing the way small businesses handle payments, particularly across borders. They are moving payments away from banks, allowing businesses to handle invoices, processing and payment gateways under one roof. Payment platforms such as WU Edge from Western Union can save small businesses money and allow them to transact across borders as easily as within the UK.

3. Wearables 

For health and motivation

Wearable devices such as the Apple Watch and Fitbit are well known in the leisure space, but workplaces can use them too. Experts have suggested many uses for wearables, including monitoring the health of employees or ensuring that they are kept safe on the road.

This technology is in use at Swedish co-working space Epicenter, where employees can opt to have a chip implanted that allows them to get in and out of the building, set alarms and collect loyalty points. Businesses such as oil giant BP use Fitbit trackers as part of an incentive system for some employees, with experts suggesting many more will follow.1

4. Virtual Reality 

For training and design

With experts predicting a huge growth in the virtual reality space by 20182, using VR tools can transform the way you train employees, as well as having implications for industrial design.

Technology giant Samsung recently introduced VR training for its employees, to help them get used to the manufacturing process before working on the actual production line3. Smaller companies use the same technology for cheaper product prototypes and training.

5. Remote Working 

For cost-cutting and team-building

Technology allows you to pull a team together from around the globe, wherever you can find the skills. Take a leaf out of Basecamp’s book – the company has 50 employees spread across 32 cities worldwide.4 The software company develops online collaboration software, which helps teams get things done together even when they are apart.

For your business, video conferencing, software and virtual reality – as well as a decent back office system for payroll – means you can manage a team around the world.

6. Hackathons 

For new ideas and recruitment

When even the 2016 FinTech Week holds its own hackathon, you know these programming competitions have entered the mainstream. These competitions bring together talented developers competing for a reward. Running a hackathon is a great way to find top talent and new business ideas, as well as integrate yourself within the wider technology community.

7. Green technology 

For bill cutting

High energy bills? Technology can help your smart office runs for less, using sensors that ensure that lights are switched off when you leave the building and that the heating isn’t on too high. Electronic forms can also cut the costs of printing and toner.

Technology can also help you cut your energy bills by ensuring you don’t have more desks than you need. Hot-desking is becoming the norm in many businesses, and a reduced office space costs less. With today’s communication and collaboration tools, it’s possible to run a large business from a kitchen table, and save on rent.

Sources: 1 Gartner; 2 Inc.; 3 Pulse; 4 Basecamp


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