Every day, we talk to small businesses, the companies that market to small businesses and the reporters and influencers who cover small business. To share that knowledge, we’re starting an occasional feature where we interview reporters and bloggers to see what’s working, what’s next and where small businesses are headed.
Recently, we talked to Ramon Ray, editor and technology evangelist of Smallbiztechnology.com. Ray also develops several conferences (see below) in the small-business space.
1. What do you see as the hottest trends for SMBs right now in the tech space?
Mobile applications and mobile-enabled websites, wireless, hosted applications, location based services and video.
2. What innovations are going to take SMBs by storm in 2011?
I don't see many "wow innovations" happening but I do see better use of what we have: smarter uses of location-based services, more use of mobile tools, etc.
3. What are the top demands of SMBs when considering tech purchases?
How do I use it; make it simple; lower the price.
4. What tips do you have for SMBs to survive and thrive in the current economy?
1. Hire a tech expert.
2. Hire two or three: one for social media and online marketing, one for traditional IT (but who knows mobile) and one for website building.
3. Learn about technology (go to events, read up, know about it and don't be afraid).
4. Think of tech as an investment not as a cost.
5. Don't technologize a bad business process.
For more, see my http://www.sixtechrules.com.
5. When are SMBs most likely to adopt or try something new (if it's broken, if they see a review, if competition has it)?
It really depends on the TYPE of small biz. Some (and I speak to MANY) have little budgets and will only purchase if they have a need; others understand the productivity evolution of tech and will buy if it can benefit them; others will buy once they see a real benefit.
6. What technology do most SMBs need but don't have/don't purchase?
They all need an IT consultant (for traditional tech and online marketing) to advise them but don't invest the money and time to get good advice.
Ray is the author of “Technology Solutions for Growing Businesses” and has written thousands of articles in how small businesses can use technology as a tool to grow their business. He is not simply a technology writer, but as a former technology consultant, has years of hands-on experience in building networks, installing software, upgrading computers, configuring mobile technology and supporting the technology small businesses use on a daily basis.
He is the producer of the annual Small Business Summit, Taste of Technology Series, 12HoursOfTechnology and other events for small businesses.
— Meg Soule