Guest blog by Stephen Miller, Lenovo Ambassador and SMB champion
In many ways, there have never been better opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses to grow.
Globalization means potential customers don’t have to live near a company’s facilities or even within the same country. Fewer market barriers and better communication options mean it is easier than ever to reach a worldwide audience, collaborate with far-flung co-workers and generally expand the boundaries of the business.
The rise of social media has helped bring customers closer, while opening new marketing opportunities. Social platforms allow businesses to be more targeted and effective in their communications, and enable SMBs to interact directly and immediately with customers. At the same time, smart connected devices like tablets and smartphones make social media interactions easier than ever.
Expensive office space is no longer an absolute requirement. The growth of smart devices and cloud computing enables employees to run business applications and access work-related files anytime, anywhere. Today it is possible for remote workers to be productive virtually anywhere in the world.
The big question is, “How do SMBs take best advantage of the highly-connected mobile workforce and the ability to interact with customers in an instant?” One answer is to leverage 3 emerging technologies that are fast becoming must-haves for today’s successful SMBs. Investing in devices that truly address the needs of employees enables businesses to boost workforce productivity, control costs by eliminating the need for multiple devices, and avoid the headache of constant future upgrades.
Multimode laptops are a fairly simple concept. They are ultra-portable 2-in-1 devices that can act as an ultrabook, a tablet and everything in between. Some feature removable tablets, while others sport displays that can flip 360 degrees and unique configurations that make them ideal for presentations. Intuitive software provides the functionality to work optimally in multiple modes – as a laptop, as a tablet, or in a ‘stand’ or ‘tent’ mode for presentations or viewing multimedia content. Instead of having to learn one set of commands and programs for a laptop and another for a tablet, employees can instantly and intuitively enjoy the convenience of multiple modes of operation, improving productivity while saving time and money.
SMBs that invest in multimode laptops eliminate the need to purchase and manage multiple devices, which significantly reduces total cost of ownership. Employees gain the flexibility and capability of two devices without the challenges of carrying both at once, or forgetting to transfer work from one device to the other. These versatile convertibles are ideal for businesses that are refreshing their PC fleet, equipping new hires, or simply want to give their existing staff more mobility and versatility.
Business-ready tablets aren’t the standard consumer-grade tablets familiar to most people. To classify as a business-ready tablet, a device should feature enhanced security, seamless remote management
and superior battery life. And importantly, it must have the ability to run corporate software applications and integrate seamlessly into the organization’s existing IT infrastructure.
Many business-ready tablets take advantage of a range of accessories that further enhance productivity. For example, digitizer pens offer incredible accuracy and pressure sensitivity; tablet docks transform a tablet into a full-function PC; and folios are great additions to protect the tablet and allow it to stand at varying angles for optimal viewing. Accessories like these ensure employees can stay fully productive, even when working with a PC or laptop as well as a business-ready tablet.
These tablets are excellent options for companies that have remote workers, or employees who travel frequently but don’t require full laptop functionality all the time. So if an SMB is ready for a laptop refresh, a multimode laptop may be the best option; but if a business wants to get more life from its existing laptop fleet, a business-ready tablet is a cost-effective and productivity-enhancing alternative. Equipping employees with business-ready tablets also means SMBs can avoid the perils of the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) trend. Instead of allowing employees to use their own less-secure personal tablets for work, which can expose critical business information to malware and data theft, they can easily take their business-ready tablets home or on the road with them.
Space-saving performance desktops
Mobility is great, but desktop PCs continue to play a key role in the technology infrastructure of many SMB organizations. If a business requires raw computing power, superior graphics, multiple display options, expanded storage capacity, or high-end performance, desktops are often the choice for business.
But the good news is that desktop PCs are changing, particularly in that they no longer have to take up so much valuable space. Some new desktops now feature form factors that occupy an amazing 5 per cent of the space of a traditional desktop, yet boast 95 per cent of the power of those large-footprint desktop PCs.
Space-saving desktop PCs and all-in-ones are ideal for companies using shared offices, short-term rental facilities, or cube-style desks, or for executives who simply want a less-cluttered desk. Like larger desktops, they support a range of options including touchscreens, USB keyboards, extending arms (for monitors) and monitor mount stands.
One final consideration for SMBs taking advantage of these emerging technologies is which software to run on their machines. Microsoft support for Windows XP ends in 2014, so companies basically have a choice of Windows 7 or Windows 8.
Both are solid platforms, but Microsoft has already stopped selling boxed copies of Windows 7 at retail, and most new laptops and desktops are being delivered with Windows 8. In fact, mainstream support for Windows 7 is scheduled to end in January 2015. Windows 8, on the other hand, offers better security and is considered more future-proof. Plus, since it is optimized for a touchscreen environment, it is a perfect choice for companies thinking about acquiring convertibles, tablets or touchscreen computers.
Whichever operating system you choose, today’s emerging must-have technologies make it easier than ever for SMBs to grow and succeed in a competitive global business environment.