Here’s how cloud-based apps can help you smash your company’s 2018 goals

How can you manage all the data your apps produce to benefit your company? How about a data dashboard?

By the end of the 2018-19 financial year, we’ll be living in the time Ridley Scott portrayed in the first Blade Runner film. We might not see flying cars and human-like robots on every street corner like many in 1982 imagined we would, but we are living in a pretty fantastic (less bleak) tech-centric world.

And it’s time small businesses stepped into it.

Easier said than done, right? While significant digital innovation would be nice, who has the time? A study by Robert Half shows that one of the biggest constraints to innovation comes when business owners and leaders get too bogged down in the day-to-day, not to mention putting out fires as quickly as they can. If that sounds familiar, it gets worse: the problem has grown by more than a third since 2010.

Saving time through innovation

There’s a catch-22 where innovation takes time, though saving time might be one of the goals of innovating.

Finding more of it won’t be the only Financial New Year’s resolution your small business makes, either. You’ll likely want to attract new customers, reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, boost sales, get debtors paying quicker, free up valuable time for effective marketing and much more.

Fortunately, we have tools unimagined even by Ridley Scott in today’s digital world to help do all these things—cloud apps and business dashboards.

Cloud-based business apps

Cloud-based business apps come in many forms to help owners run different elements of their small businesses. From inventory management, accounting and bookkeeping software, social media, email marketing, customer relationship management, customer support, staff rostering, sales management and loads more.

Choosing the right ones can bring attractive benefits. Research from Exact shows that small businesses who use cloud tools grow their revenue by an average 20%, as they take better control of their money, pricing, debtor management, sales channels or customer retention prospects.

The benefits also stack for businesses that want to combine their cloud apps. The same study found that small businesses who use three or more online business tools experience revenue growth exceeding 25%.

Small businesses should be aware, however, that closely managing many cloud applications can be tricky—you have individual programmes collecting unique data that’s valuable but often tucked away in separate software.

Which is why you should also consider using a data dashboard to pull all that information together in one place.

Read more: The 4 cloud-based services your business needs to be using

Why should your small business should use a data dashboard?

A data dashboard is a hub of information where designated people in your business can see your most crucial information at a glance. It’s good knowledge to have at the start or end of the day—seeing live data on things like which staff members are in, daily sales, bills you need to pay, where you are on project timelines, expenses to approve, your cash position etc.

You will also want to keep an eye on longer-term performance. Your data dashboard shows you insights around your best-selling and most profitable products, your cost per sale, monthly revenue and expense trends, the performance of your marketing campaigns, staff performance, and customer conversion rates, to give a few examples. This kind of information is great for future decision making and planning, and it’s all at a business’s fingertips.

A data dashboard brings oversight many business owners need to make sharp decisions quickly, refine their operations, find efficiencies and take control of every element of their companies—without breaking the bank or having to work 24 hours a day.

Granted, Blade Runner would not have been the box office smash it was if cloud tools and business dashboards were the central theme. But, in reality, this is what the present looks like: businesses doing a lot more, even with less time and fewer resources. We’ll take that over chasing simulants in dystopian LA any day.

9 Spokes is an online marketplace to try and buy a selection of proven, world-leading business apps. You can also use your very own, free 9 Spokes data dashboard to bring together the key information from these apps in one place, seeing your business more clearly.