Big Data Can be Helpful for Small Businesses Too

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big data

Innovative ways to gather and analyze big data has been a driving force behind business technology in recent years. The phrase has gained some negative press when companies like Facebook collect and use data in an illegal or shady way, but when done right, knowing how to use big data can be a game changer for businesses. Not just big business either. You may not realize it, but your small business likely already has mountains of data waiting to be aggregated and analyzed.

What is “Big Data?”

The idea of “big data” is gathering a lot of information on your business and it’s target customers. Then, you can use this data to look for trends, find flaws, identify gaps in your services, and so much more to run your business better. For example, one popular way to use big data is with your CRM. If you collected all of the data on the path your leads take before they convert to customers, you could develop a stream-lined process that could greatly increase the likelihood of closing the sale. Maybe you find that customers that are reached out to within a week of an initial sales meeting convert at a much higher rate than those contacted two weeks after, or maybe you find that customers who see a sale person in-person spend 25% more than those contacted over the phone. Looking for and finding trends like this can be a game changer.

Where Do I Get this Data?

The good news is – you likely have already collected a lot of data you can begin to analyze. Your CRM, ordering platform (if that applies), Google Analytics account, email service, etc. already hold a lot of data waiting to be examined.

By diving deeper into the platforms your business already uses, you can pull reports and start identifying trends in no-time. Many of these services likely already have report features built in. If not, reaching out to the provider to request bulk exports of your data is another option. Once you decide on the KPIs you are looking for, use a program like Excel to help you analyze and display this data in a meaningful way.

Identify Problems

With the help of big data, finding flaws in your sales process or on your website just got a whole lot easier. Look for things like common stages where leads tend to drop off and focus on fixing that stage of the process. On your website or in other marketing efforts, look for landing pages or ads that have worse success rates than others and stop sending traffic there until you can improve them. In a perfect world, customers would tell you “oh I liked your ad but then I got to the landing page and format was just unreadable, that’s why I left your website and didn’t convert.” That doesn’t happen though, so use big data to find those problems you likely never even realized existed.

Optimize Work Flows

A stream-lined work flow is essential to lead nurturing. You may not realize it, but even if you don’t have a formal plan in place, you likely already use a work flow. Even just having a normal way you follow up with inquiries from potential customers is a work flow.

Use your CRM of email marketing tool (if you use one) to find those points where leads tend to fall off. Use the data to also find those extra touch points that seem to increase the likelihood of a conversion. Seek out these trends and incorporate them into a standard workflow you can use every time!

Big Data for Small Businesses

You don’t have to be a huge company to be able to gather and leverage data. Understanding the behavior of your potential customers and taking advantage of the trends you see will put you head and shoulders above your competition. Your small business may not always stay small, so paying attention big data now will help you scale and run your business in a much more efficient way.

Why to Let Your Employees Work Remotely

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employees work remotely

Why is letting employees work remotely is a good practice to adopt? If you’re reading this, you’re probably a business owner/manager and are torn between letting employees work from home and requiring that they be in the office. While all businesses and situations are different, we’re going to give you all the information you need about working remotely to make the best decision for your employees and company.

Less Distractions

Working in an office with multiple people is often distracting. Someone sneezes or opens a noisy bag of chips and, all of a sudden, you’ve lost your train of thought. When working remotely, employees have full control over their environment, and the freedom to focus how he/she knows they can best. This increases productivity and ultimately ROI.

Increased Employee Happiness

Employees who work fully or partially remotely have reported increased happiness with both their company and the work they’re doing. There is a lot to be said from this. Why increased happiness? They spend less time doing the not-so-fun things that come with working in an office, like commuting and dealing with annoying coworkers, and more time doing the work they actually enjoy. Not to mention, no one likes to feel micro managed with their boss breathing down their neck and looking over their shoulder all the time. Working remotely means working in the style you know you are happiest with.

Less Time Off

Employees who work from home have been shown to take less time off of work for vacations and sick days. It’s much easier to work from home when you are feeling a bit under the weather instead of driving into an office and trying not to cough all over your coworkers. Not to mention, the risk of spreading office sicknesses is practically eliminated. One of the main reasons employees take time off is because they need a “break” from their work/workplace. When working from home, people don’t get exhausted from work as easily and will therefore need less time to “recover” with vacation time.

Working from home also means no “snow days.” If you are expecting weather, have employees either plan to work from home or prepare to be able to if need be. If you live in a location with harsh winters, setting employees up to work from home on snow days can make a big impact on productivity.

Better Talent

Have you ever run into the dilemma of searching for candidate resumes online and come across one that perfect for your open position, only to find out that they live across the country? When you introduce the ability to work remotely, you open the door to talent outside of your local area and have a wider selection to choose from. Don’t limit yourself to just local candidates.

There is Still Flexibility

When it comes to letting your employees work remotely, you don’t have to go all in right away. If you’re still unsure about the idea, start by letting them work from home one day a week and see how it goes. Plenty of companies offer partial remote work instead of fully remote positions and see the same benefits as stated above. It is completely dependent on your industry, business, and employees. Find what feels right for you.

It’s Easier Than Ever

Now that we know the benefits of letting employees work remotely, how can you make it possible? Cloud Colorado offers remote desktop services so your employees can work anywhere, from any device, at any time. No matter what device they log in on, their entire desktop will be waiting for them as though they were sitting in the office. With all the above benefits and now the means to facilitate the work, why not give it a go?

Why Business Intelligence is Important for Small Businesses

Business intelligence

What is Business Intelligence?

Business Intelligence (BI) in an umbrella term that encompasses all aspects of a business’s applications, infrastructure, and tools used for the analysis of business information. BI data is usually displayed in the form of graphs and charts for easy evaluation and understanding. It is used to support better business decision making and determine best business practices.

Why is It Important?

Business Intelligence is a vital part of any organization because it allows the business to understand and improve upon its business practices. By gathering internal data and comparing it to companies within the same industry, businesses are able to gain a better understanding of their performance and value compared to their competitors. This is especially valuable to small businesses due to their difficulty to develop and compete with larger companies and corporations. By having easy-to-analyze data, businesses are able to quickly and effectively compare their performance to competitors and begin to improve on their logistics.

Business Intelligence Trends

Businesses run on data, so it makes sense for that data to be easily accessible. Companies are now relying on their business intelligence services to be always accessible from anywhere at any time. Having a platform that can quickly combine and display data from multiple sources and create accurate calculations and visualizations is needed. The solution to these business needs is Cloud Computing. By being able to access company data securely from anywhere, the amount of equipment, power, and time needed to conduct business is drastically reduced.

Why Move to the Cloud?

Cloud computing allows you to streamline your business services with modern cloud technology. Benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Instantly drop your overall IT expenses (hardware, software, maintenance, and power) by 50% or more.
  • Automatic disaster recovery and protection from fire, flood, theft, viruses, and other natural disasters.
  • Instantly access your e-mail and files from home or on the road from any device.
  • Save on electricity and drastically reduce the equipment that needs to be purchased.
  • Increased cyber security – the cloud is actually more secure than a traditional network.

There is no use continuing to rely on old and outdated technology when there is a simple and cost-effective option available. Business cloud services from CloudColorado are the perfect solution to all of your business intelligence needs. Contact us today to learn how we can simplify your business’s reporting and data integration.

How to Get Support for StreetSmarts Construction Software

streetsmarts

Is your construction business still using StreetSmarts? You may know that Maxwell System no longer supports this software – so what do you do when you need support or help with your data planning and conversion? No need to worry. Cloud Colorado has you covered when it comes to StreetSmarts with our qualified team of experienced StreetSmarts engineers and developers.

What is StreetSmarts?

StreetSmarts Construction Software is a comprehensive line of business accounting application suite designed for construction contractors in the heavy and highway construction space. It is meant to help businesses to better manage materials, equipment, finances, and more with its powerful tools that include:

  • Contract Management
  • Human Resources
  • Document Imaging
  • Financial Management
  • Equipment Inventory
  • Equipment Management
  • Material Billing
  • Project Management
  • ScaleSmarts
  • SmartTraxx
  • Subcontract Management

These tools have been proven to help streamline automation and management for companies in the heavy and highway construction space and are relied upon by many to regulate business functions. Unfortunately for users, the software is now only serviced by 3rd party support, making it a bit more difficult to find qualified engineers to assist with software issues.

Why Is It No Longer Supported?

Viewpoint acquired Maxwell Systems a few years ago in 2014. When this acquisition took place, some of Maxwell Systems’ products, such as StreetSmarts, became no longer supported by the company. If StreetSmarts was purchased and utilized within a company before this acquisition, it can still be used, but Maxwell Systems and Viewpoint do not offer product support. If support or help is needed, a 3rd party, like Cloud Colorado, must be used or a new business application suite must be adopted.

Who Still Offers Support?

We do! StreetSmarts Construction Software is no longer supported by Maxwell Systems – but that’s where we come in. We have a team of SteetSmarts developers and engineers to help you keep this valuable software up and running. We can even assist with conversion when the time is right. Our qualified team has many years of 3rd party support experience with StreetSmarts clients and the new application suites that are now available. This means we’re able to fix current StreetSmarts issues and recommend alternative modern software that can get the job done as well, if not better.

Whether you need StreetSmarts support help or are looking to update your construction business application software, Cloud Colorado has the knowledgeable and experienced engineers to get the job done. Visit our website or contact us at 303-708-9725 to request a free consultation to find out how we can help you with StreetSmarts.

What is a Managed Network?

What is a Managed Network

Managed networks are a popular IT solution for small and medium sized businesses. The ins and outs of exactly how they function though are still confusing to many new business owners. How do they work, why are they so popular, and what purpose do they serve? What is a managed network exactly?

How a Managed Network Works

A managed network is a network set up and overseen by a third party provider. This provider is often called a “Managed Services Provider,” or MSP for short. The MSP handles the software, the technical support, and the IT infrastructure for the client. As a small company grows, usually by around ten employees, business owners realize that everyone on their separate devices and servers just won’t work any longer. That is where managed network providers come in.

A managed network is managed remotely, delivered through the cloud. This means your MSP will rarely, if ever, be on-site and there is virtually nothing for a business owner to oversee themselves. The server space, software updates, antivirus, almost everything you can think of is managed by the provider.

Advantages of Using a Managed Service Provider

The two main advantages of using a managed service provider are cost and convenience. The MSP model allows small and medium sized businesses to have little to no IT staff in house while still benefitting from the use of a dedicated server and private network. Employees can share files and email clients with the knowledge that all information exchanged is private and secure.

MSPs handles all technical issues and will on-board new staff as well, meaning less time spent by valuable staff solving computer problems or setting up new hires. Let the MSP handle it. With a fixed cost model, there is no reason not to take full advantage of the services offered. You can also rest easy each month knowing that your IT costs are fixed and predictable.

How Managed Networks Came to Be

The idea of MSPs came about in the 1960s with the first telephone company to allow customers to pay a monthly fee to use telephone equipment owned by the provider. This model was very appealing to companies that did not have the need or means for switchboards and other communication equipment, but of course still needed to be able to manage multiple phone lines. As computer technology later emerged, this model was transferred to IT equipment and network management. The model has thrived because of the abundance of businesses that need the benefits of a computer network without the cost in-house IT equipment and staff.

What is a Managed Network?

In a nutshell, a managed network is a network of computers that is managed by an outside service provider, most often through the cloud. Server space, software updates, and technical support all come from this provider, allowing businesses without in-house IT staff all of the benefits of a full IT department. Managed networks are convenient and very cost effective in a business landscape where skimping on technology is nearly impossible.