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Procurement 12 September 2016
How cloud technology can help startups match big business
The UK head of cloud-based technology platform RingCentral, Sahil Rekhi, explains how cloud-based software now makes launching a new venture a far less daunting prospect than in previous times. Launching a new business in an existing space can be scary. Regardless of whether or not your product outperforms that of established competitors by leaps and bounds, educating the market and carving out a share against larger firms can be tough. Of course, micro businesses have one primary advantage agility.As the owner of a smaller venture, you can move quickly to adopt latest technologies and use them to get the edge on more established firms. With no legacy to contend with, micro business owners have an easier time making needed adjustments. Combine this agility with customers? expectations of customised services and products, and you’ll position your new venture to win long-term. These advantages are especially evident in sales, traditionally a time-consuming, labour-intensive effort, especially in software or technology sectors. Salespeople would arrive early to prospect meetings and sit in the lobby to observe the flow of people, watching for competing vendors and other contextual clues that might help build rapport with a customer. Today, technology can gather this intel much faster and better than people can. Real-time social prospecting tools give agile startups nearly effortless insight into contextual data to help you find the right prospects. Before platforms like LinkedIn, salespeople relied on their own contacts to make a connection but now anybody can find and reach out to the key decision makers in any business. Omni-channel integrations across cloud-based CRM systems bring data, communication and social tools together. Sales people at agile smaller organisations can compete and challenge the established players in the market with this transformation and create a competitive edge at a cost efficient and effective way, all by using the cloud. Of course, giant companies use this technology as well but their conventional, disjointed business communication tools such as traditional telephone systems, email and other legacy platforms, leave valuable data fragmented and siloed. That’s why micro business owners should prioritise the use of what’s new: agile, open, cloud-based communication platforms, which provide a fully integrated, multi-modal system for interacting with prospects, in real time. By converging communications and customer relationship management (CRM) into one unified system, these new systems can give startups a powerful advantage over incumbent competitors. That advantage stems from automatically integrating, into a single thread, social sourced contextual data with every modern communication channel from telephone, email and instant messaging, to video conferencing and social media interaction. Businesses have a unique opportunity to leverage this automated, integrated technology right out of the gate. The only way for larger firms to even come close is to do all of this manually, entering notes, contact details and activity logs into a traditional CRM system, or to rip-and-replace their legacy systems, a costly and time consuming process, especially in large organisations where change happens slowly. This means that while the big firms are still hanging out in the lobby and manually entering data into a CRM system (hoping they don’t miss a deal-making detail), smaller businesses can hit the ground running with clear, real-time insights into customers? needs, wants and desires, providing the ability to out-perform competition, no matter how big or small. Sahil Rekhil is UK managing director at RingCentral. Still confused by the cloud? Read our expert’s introduction to cloud-based services for small businesses, here.