New technologies are being developed daily, and a lot of them can be used for business. The franchise business is a model that's built on efficiency, and it only makes sense that some of the new technology that's being developed would have several uses for both franchisees, and franchisors.
Some of the newest things in technology have to do with mobile phones. Do you happen to have an iPhone, or a Blackberry? There are tons of applications that can be used for your business.
Here are some *examples.
Speaking of all things mobile, according to * CellSigns.com, in the second quarter of 2008, a typical U.S. mobile subscriber sent or received 357 text messages per month, compared to placing or receiving 204 phone calls. Though the number of calls has remained relatively steady, the number of text messages is up 450% from just two years prior.
It's not just teens that are texting, either. Remember when the Obama presidential campaign attempted to announce Joe Biden as the vice presidential candidate via texting? The mass media got wind of it, and it ended up as a breaking news story right before the campaign scrambled to send the text-message out at around three o'clock in the morning.
The Nielsen Company estimates that the Biden text was received by 2.9 million mobile phone users in the U.S. over the course of that weekend. Whether or not the text-message was able to beat cable news to the punch, Nielsen still reports that it was one of the biggest and broadest mobile marketing events to date.
Mobile marketing could be one of the most important technology innovations to date. Imagine coming home after a long work day. Your teenagers are finishing up their homework, and have shared with you that they are getting hungry. You open the refrigerator, and find very few choices. Then your mobile phone buzzes. It's a text message from your local pizza franchise. The text says this;
'Let us cook your dinner tonight. Use this code for 20% off. Free Delivery. Text 22331'
You text them back, throw a quick little salad together, and 40 minutes later, a hot pizza arrives. Problem solved.
There's another technology that seems like it would be perfect for franchise organizations. It's called cloud computing. Cloud computing allows a lot of information to be shared via the Internet, by groups of people in real time. Instead of 4-5 people emailing information back and forth, to try to collaborate on something, cloud computing offers an easier, more efficient way to get together, virtually.
A good example of how this technology can be used in larger franchise organizations involves 'Franchisee Advisory Councils.' These consist of a group of franchisees from various parts of the country getting together a few times a year to discuss ideas, and initiatives for the good of all.
Most of the time, these advisory council meetings take places via phone. These teleconferences can work fairly well, but if the conversations happen to involve advertising and marketing, it's not very efficient to send emails back and forth during a conference call, to demonstrate new initiatives which are visual in nature, like ideas for coupons and direct mail pieces. It just takes too long.
A better way would be to have each member of the franchisee advisory council attach a webcam to their computers, and share ideas during the actual call-videoconferencing. This would certainly save time, as new ideas that involve visuals could be voted on and approved, that day.
The examples above are just the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to technology, and its many business uses. Did you know that the Small Business Administration website has an entire area devoted to small business and technology? http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/manage/technology/index.html
Technology certainly helps small businesses of all types become more efficient. What new technologies are you using in your business? Are there new applications out there that can help other members of the small business community? Maybe you have some ways for the community to save money on technology? Please share them!
*Hyperlinks link to non-Government websites
(The Franchise King ®, Joel Libava, is president of Franchise Selection Specialists Inc. Joel helps those interested in exploring franchise ownership all over the country find great opportunities that are a great match for them. He is frequently called on by the media for his no-spin insights on the world of franchising. You can follow Joel on his award winning blog-The Franchise King Blog.)