Navigating the field of technology
offer tips on optimizing software, data and marketing tools
Michalets - Freeman Staff
March 28, 2015
- In 2015, being a savvy business owner means so much more
than simply having expert negotiation skills or a strong
Business owners increasingly need to stay on top of
technology trends, including new software, marketing
techniques and gadgets to run their businesses efficiently
and provide the customer service clients expect.
While it may feel daunting for many small business owners
who are short on time and financial resources to tackle the
latest technology, area experts have tips on what technology
components they feel are essential.
Pat McKenna, president of MojoWeb Productions, LLC, said he
advises small business owners to focus on email marketing
because it offers a greater return on investment than social
media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
“I’m a huge proponent of email marketing not only
because of its long history but it’s unfiltered,” said
McKenna, an instructor at Waukesha County Technical
College’s Small Business Center.
Facebook in particular filters business’s posts, McKenna
said, resulting in a business reaching only about 10 to 12
percent of people who have liked their page.
To help small business owners manage their email marketing,
McKenna recommends Constant Contact or a similar email
broadcast provider. McKenna likes Constant Contact because
it has an intuitive newsletter builder, 400-plus templates
that have different focuses or appearances and the company
offers a 60-day free trial with live support.
“There are lots of providers out there that deal with what
Constant Contact does, but the level of value that they
provide both before and after, it’s an industry
standard,” he said.
Constant Contact also provides statistics to the business
owner on how many people opened the email and if they
clicked on the links.
Paul Decker, Waukesha County Board chairman and founder of
Maverick Innovation Lab, said harnessing that data is highly
Having a database to store a business’s statistics and
data is crucial, he said, such as for products or services.
“That kind of data is gold,” Decker said. “It is
literally gold and a lot of smaller business let it go.”
Having a good understanding of a business’s data allows
its owners to make better decisions and investments, he
said. Secondly, Decker thinks it’s vital that small
business owners utilize a content management system. “I
think the first thing is to have a good content management
program and it has to be appropriate to whatever you are and
your size,” he said.
McKenna also advises clients to use a content management
system. He likes WordPress, which helps business owners
create websites with free templates that are breathtaking.
“The most important thing that any small business should be
doing with technology is not to cave to the hype,” he said.
McKenna advises looking at popular software and applications
and seeing if they are a good match.
As smartphones increase in popularity, Choton Basu said the
hottest trend will be iBeacon technology, which allows a
business to reach potential customers via a sensor and
mobile phone alerts.
“They are calling this invisible technology,” he said.
“It is not intrusive per se.”
Basu, a professor in the Information Technology & Supply
Chain Management department at the University of
Wisconsin-Whitewater, also consults on small businesses and
An iBeacon is a small device that can sense if a smartphone
is nearby and learn what the person’s interests are. For
example, Basu is working with a parks and recreation
department to install iBeacons at its baseball field and
then to create a downloadable app so when parents are
at the field, weather and game alerts can be sent to them,
in addition to coupons and notifications from local
businesses. A person must download the app before they can
be contacted, he said.
Basu said he thinks small businesses should be tracking
iBeacon technology because it will be the next big thing.
Decker said they have learned at Maverick Innovation Lab in
Delafield how important it is to back up data and regularly
“Don’t go cheap when you get a router. A good commercial
router is really, really important,” he said. “You need
speed and the ability to process data.”
Decker advises small business owners to hire an outside
consultant to handle information technology because it will
free them to run their businesses.
“The worst thing you can do as a small business person is
to try and get into a skill set you don’t have,” he
He also doesn’t recommend someone trying to teach himself
new software, which can eat up a lot of time, but to take an
inexpensive course at WCTC.
McKenna said it’s also important for small business owners
to make decisions based on their own operation and its needs
and not what others are saying or promoting when it comes to
Basu put it another way. “Don’t waste time because it looks
cool, think of what decision it will impact,” he said.
Going forward, Basu said crowdfunding and crowdsourcing will
become increasingly important.
Crowdsourcing allows a person to seek the help of someone
with a task, such as solving a chemistry problem or creating
a marketing campaign. He or she selects the person with the
best idea and gives them a pre-determined payment for the
For crowdfunding, a person can raise money through websites
like Kickstarter and Indiegogo for a new business or