What advice do the experts have for SMEs getting ready for a tech-filled future?

At the TechConnect Live event on 30 May, headline sponsor Vodafone put the focus on the SME sector, offering advice from company leaders as well as invited founders and other industry experts on how technology can help these businesses.

Here’s some of the advice we picked up at the RDS from broadcaster Jess Kelly, Popertee founder Lucinda Kelly and Vodafone’s Dr Csaba Kiss Kalló.

1. Use data to make smarter decisions

Talking to Lucinda Kelly, who previously worked in Paddy Power, she noted how data in business has changed over the last few years. An early adopter of data-driven insight, she finds the recent buzz around artificial intelligence “a little bit strange” but, ultimately, is keenly aware of how data can be leveraged by businesses.

“I think there are multiple data sources now available, which were never available before for businesses, to actually enable them to make smarter decisions,” she said. While the Popertee founder has seen data used diligently in marketing over the years, she now sees this kind of insight driving decisions in product development. She also noted the strength in combining historic data with other data sources in order to predict trends and audience targets.

2. Be secure

Vodafone’s head of connectivity, mobility and security centred his advice on the last aspect of this portfolio, highlighting a recent Vodafone product for the SME sector. “[Data Control] essentially helps them to block out sites that are considered malicious and to make sure that their users only use the legitimate sites,” Kalló explained.

3. Be honest and open

Jess Kelly, who hosts the show Tech Talk on Newstalk, advised SMEs to be open and honest with customers, particularly in the age of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and highly informed users. “Obviously, we know GDPR has come into effect so people want to know why you want their information, what you’re going to do with it, that type thing, so I’d be as transparent as possible,” she said.

4. Be efficient in your communications

In addition to being honest and open, the broadcaster had tips on efficiency and being smart with your time. “We all know that we are very, very time-poor so if you say to someone that you’re working on a deadline, try and again be very efficient in your communications, be clear. Don’t have 57 different email threads,” she said.

“Think about embracing new technologies. There are so many different applications and pieces of software out there now that can help save you time but also get the job done.”

Words by Elaine Burke