UNUSUAL USES OF TECHNOLOGY FOR SMALL BUSINESSES – FOR THAT COMPETITIVE EDGE Technology by Rosemary Shears - October 20, 2019October 30, 20190 Technology is ubiquitous and a constant feature of our lives. One could even call it the defining feature of our age. A lot of our day to day activity revolves around it. It propels businesses, transportation, communication, creativity, and a lot more. Given all of that, we are only limited by our imagination when it comes to making use of technology in a creative capacity to see how far we can go with it. Small businesses in particular should indulge in a lot of lateral thinking and make the most of this fascinating source, which is available to all and at quite a low cost. From everyday items we all have in the office like smartphones, to powerful data vis tools like Power BI, there is a multitude of amazing tech you can make sue of. An innovative use of technology would be a testament to your resourcefulness, creativity, and may well translate into a competitive edge over your rivals in the marketplace. In this post we take a look at some unusual uses of the most frequently encountered technology of the day. USING SECURITY CAMERAS TO GAIN CUSTOMER FEEDBACK The most common method used to know what our customers want from us is to flat out ask them. Conduct surveys and distribute questionnaires to gain that much needed information which will help you improve your product and gain better levels of customer satisfaction, thus improving your bottom line. The problem with this is that not every customer asked is able to articulate what they like, and in case you have caught them in a hurried mood with a yes-no questionnaire, they might not even bother to think about the answers in detail and simply say the first thing that occurs to them. In other words – asking people questions that involve complex buying decisions in the form of a short questionnaire or on a short notice may not be the best way to gain ‘intelligence’ or insight into what they want. So what does one do? A restaurant owner has found a novel way to learn more about his customers. Instead of asking them anything, he simply observes them. Via a security camera. Observing people will tell you more about their likes and dislikes than would simply asking them leading questions. An indoor security camera is used to keep an eye on your customers and employees but this man has turned it into a market intelligence tool. – It helps him watch from a distance (since he remote accesses the security camera) the goings-on at his restaurant, including the busy times, and studies the décor and its user-friendliness. – He learns which areas or seating arrangements his customers gravitate to. – He also notices where these customers are more likely to make a purchase, so he strategically places quick takeaways over there, thus maximizing his restaurant’s ability to make money. – One can see a number of advantages and ideas this remote viewing your customers and studying their behaviour would bring. If you are in a business that involves people to come over and make purchases at the physical location, you might want to take a leaf or two out of this restaurateur’s book. THE SMARTPHONE CAMERA AND PHOTO EDITING SOFTWARE Smartphones are everywhere. If you are a business person, you very likely own one yourself. And though most people use this amazing piece of human ingenuity to simply stay in touch with friends, share photos, update statuses, and make and receive calls, there is no end to what you can actually do with a smartphone given its capabilities. One of the features that hold a lot of promise is a good camera and all the simple photo-editing software that you can carry around in your phone. (Certain apps are also very useful.) Are you visually inspired? If so, the smartphone is the best thing that could have happened to you. For creatively inclined business people, such as website designers, fashion designers, photographers, architects, film editors, accessory designers, even retail store owners, visual stimulation offers an endless supply of ideas. Snap, snap, snap when you are traveling and see if you can use those images to come up with something new pertaining to your business. A picture is not just worth a thousand words but also a thousand ideas. There are a number of ways to look at it. Going through the library of photos in your phone, you may feel you are only looking at one scene, but if you study it, you can see in it new patterns. Hiding somewhere in that picture in plain sight could be a million-dollar idea. USE YOUR LAPTOP WEBCAM TO IMPROVE YOUR PRESENTATIONS This idea came to me after I saw a former roommate rehearse his lines endlessly with a computer webcam set up in the background. He was a wannabe actor. If you think about it, a lot of talking to impress your clients as we do in sales and marketing is nothing but delivering your lines along a rehearsed plan to achieve the desired impact on your audience. Cameras are also brutally unforgiving, which is great for those looking for honest feedback. Before any big presentation, sale, negotiation, or even a job interview, turn on the webcam in your laptop, position it so that it’s able to capture a wide enough view of you and go on talking to the empty room as you would to a room packed of potential clients. Watch the feedback at your leisure, pay particular attention to your body language and tone modulation. You’d be surprised at how much you improvise based on this method.