There’s nothing like the productivity gains from a simple toolbelt. Think about the last time you saw a plumber, carpenter, or cable-TV tech in action. They all wear toolbelts with wrenches, hammers, and wire-splicers within easy reach.
Now, imagine if their bosses sent them into the field with not one toolbelt but two or three. Productivity would nosedive because the belts wouldn’t be handy anymore. They’d be a hindrance.
These days, lots of small businesses suffer under the load of too many toolbelts — cumbersome collections of technologies they acquired for perfectly sensible reasons.
Now they have people in the same office building doing similar tasks with different software. Every app has slightly different functions, causing small gaps in how people get things done.
All those small gaps add up to lost productivity you need to regain — by integrating your tech into a toolbelt for the whole business.
Why technology integration matters for small businesses
How did we get to the point of small businesses needing a toolbelt for their software?
Companies used to buy on-premises software that was more like one of those giant toolboxes on wheels that auto mechanics use. These big-box solutions were powerful enough, but they also were expensive to implement and difficult to customize for companies’ unique needs.
Cloud-based, software as a service (SaaS) technologies exploded that model. Today’s workers can easily install applications on their work computers and personal smartphones. These tools let them swap text messages, join videoconferences, schedule meetings, collaborate on projects, and perform dozens more job-related tasks.
But this can mean that six people in the same department use a half-dozen different tools to do the same task. Of course, the department manager can reduce the chaos by insisting that everybody use the same apps for certain tasks.
All’s well until the department down the hall chooses another tool. It’s all but inevitable: The tech is cloud-based, economical and easy to install, and different tools work slightly better for different use cases.
This freedom has a cost: fragmented technology ecosystems that degrade productivity. By contrast, if everybody has one toolbelt with the same tools, they don’t lose time learning different user interfaces and mastering the quirks that bedevil all software user experiences.
What tech fragmentation looks like — and what it costs
Business-communications technologies help illustrate how we got here. Dozens of companies sell software for voice calls, email, texting, videoconferencing and more under the umbrella of unified communications as a service (UCaaS).
These tools were lifesavers at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic because they streamlined the move to remote work. But now there’s a mess to clean up. The average business is running 2.6 unified communications tools— and 46% have three or more.
Ironically, all these tools installed to encourage efficiency are having the opposite effect, sapping productivity gains by more than 25%.
The trouble is especially acute for small businesses, whose IT teams that already have too much on their plates. It takes a lot of time to face the profusion of ransomware threats and workers needing help with onboarding, password resets and other support tasks.
IT teams also lose time deploying, managing, and configuring these tools. They also get bogged down assigning licenses and permissions, securing against cyberattacks, training and onboarding their colleagues, adding integrations, and porting data from multiple vendors.
Unifying UCaaS into a single toolbelt can help ease the strain on small-business IT teams.
What to look for in a centralized SaaS solution
If you’re shopping for a small-business software solution, you can keep your toolbelt simple and efficient by focusing on SaaS vendors that:
- Unify. All the functions you need should be centralized in an easy-to-use interface that’s simple to implement and manage with a small IT team. It also should be intuitive and easy to learn without extensive training.
- Integrate. Apps should dovetail smoothly with other technology platforms like CRM and analytics.
- Liberate. Apps should extend functionality to smartphones and tablets. Solutions also should free your technology team to focus on using tech to build your brand and strengthen business relationships.
- Compete on price. Fees should have a competitive price point with predictable costs that help you stay on budget.
- Support users. Vendors should provide ready support so users can get their questions answered quickly and get back to work as soon as possible.
- Protect. Security best practices should limit your risk of cyberattacks.
- Analyze. Robust analytics should help you flag inefficiencies and streamline workflows.
- Persist. Maximum uptime should keep everybody productive all the time.
Here at GoTo, we focus on making all this happen for our UCaaS customers. For all the digital wonders at our fingertips these days, it never hurts to remember what tradespeople and artisans have known for centuries:
If you need the right tool, right now, put it on your toolbelt (and one toolbelt is plenty).