It’s been 42 years since the first spreadsheet, VisiCalc, appeared in 1979, much to the concern of the accounting guild, who thought this tool was just beginning to end. Erik Rigola, strategy consultant and marketing Roca Salvatella digital, now remembers it when assessing the effect that the arrival of those digital novelties had, enhanced four years later with the premiere of the popular Excel.

But accountants found that these templates, which everyone uses every day, made their job easier. “They were still needed, but now they were more effective and precise in their tasks,” he notes. Today, technology that was revolutionary at the time is considered mundane.

The Digital Toolkit Program of the SME Digitization Plan 2021-2025 aims to provide companies with these tools.

Although neither the entry requirements nor the deadlines for applying for this support have yet been published, it is known that approximately 145,000 companies with between 10 and 49 employees, 1,100,000 micro-enterprises with between one and nine employees and 1,600,000 self-employed workers.

Each sector has its own computer programs adapted to its needs. However, there are tools and applications that are useful to all organizations, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in management tasks, data analysis, communication and marketing techniques.

Basis for every organization

In terms of management, Rigola explains, having an office automation suite is essential to have word processing programs, calendars, and multimedia presentations, among other things. Almost all computers have this kind of software pre-installed, but today others can be downloaded for free and hosted in the cloud.

Experts recommend:

The Microsoft Office suite is the most widely distributed. The professional version is available from 299 euros. Today, much of the work is done remotely and the team is switched more often than before. Therefore, according to Rigola, the most efficient option is to store files in the cloud. “I would choose the Microsoft Office 365 or Google Workspace solution packages because they also offer email and communication solutions with teams and video conferencing, essential tools in the post-COVID-19 era,” he emphasizes.

The customer management tools, called customer relationship management, simplify the work when handling large databases. Cristóbal Álvarez, professor at ESIC Business & Marketing School and founder of the online marketing company Social and Sons, recommends two: Holded and Zoho CRM. Both serve to make forecasts and studies on customers and offer subscriptions ranging from 25 euros to 159 euros per month in the case of Holded and from 37 euros to 90 euros in Zoho CRM.

A good cover letter: web design tools

Having a website is a necessary requirement for any business, either to offer information or to sell products and services. What is not on the Internet today does not exist. In either case, the work and advice of a developer will be required.

Rigola points out that “the most important thing is to make sure you use software that is widely used”. The reason is that this type of program is usually open, which means that any third-party developer can create new functionality for it. This allows the platform to lead the way and be constantly updated.

Experts recommend:

The software most commonly used to create pages is WordPress. It also has a multitude of plugins, small updates that are added according to the needs of the consumer to extend the functionalities.

In the event that the company needs an online store, Rigola recommends two programs: PrestaShop and Magento: “They work with the same open philosophy, but usually require a larger investment in development.” These tools can be downloaded without paying for the license, but they have to be hosted on a server, it is what is known as hosting, and yes, it requires an economic outlay. Some of the most commonly used servers are SiteGround, Webempresa, and Raiola Networks.

Evaluate the Company’s Internet Presence: Analytical Tools

Once you have a website, you have to manage it and organize the user-generated data to know its evolution. By measuring attendance, the business owner can understand customer behavior and make decisions to drive sales. Specific tools are sold on the market that help interpret the metrics and translate them into trends.

Experts recommend:

Álvarez proposes Google Analytics to study the data, a service that offers benefits from 0 euros to 100,000 euros per year. It shows statistics about visits, most viewed pages, users and sales. “There are other more powerful tools like Tableau Software or Microsoft Power BI, but they require more technical knowledge and are aimed at medium and large companies,” he explains.

This expert also highlights LeapFrog to analyze the brand’s positioning on the web and, if you have a database, Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign, the most popular and complete, which integrate tools for marketing and allow you to create campaigns via email. For those who want to delve into the subject, Álvarez recommends Hotjar, from 0 to 389 euros per month, which helps to understand how people interact with the internet in real time.

Connected with customers: means of communication

Internal communication, especially in times when remote working has become more important, is a key factor for the smooth running of a company. Which tools to use depend on the size of the company. “If we’re talking about small organizations, with up to 50 employees, email is enough,” says Rigola. But as the workforce increases, other needs arise that must be met with other technological solutions.

Experts recommend:

With the rise of telecommuting, applications that promote more direct communication have gained in importance. Rigola and Álvarez suggest Slack, an interesting tool because it allows more fluid and informal communication, and Microsoft Teams, one of Álvarez’s favorites for its stability and its ability to integrate with other applications. Both offer community and private chats and allow file sharing.

In the external communication, Rigola points out that Mailchimp should send via email to the contacts in its own database, as it is free for up to 2,000 subscribers. It also proposes iCrowdNewswire or EIN Newswire, two of the most common, which are used to send mass press releases and additionally provide the user with a guide on how to prepare them.

Make yourself known: ‘marketing’ tools and advertisements

The Social Media They are tools with very comprehensive and powerful free features to publicize a company. In that, says Álvarez, you just have to desire and invest time.

Experts recommend:

Pay attention to Instagram, as it is the first tool that users turn to when seeking information before purchasing a product, and also YouTube, the second, according to data from the global association of communication, advertising and marketing digital IAB Spain. However, Álvarez advises to be on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook as well. In his opinion, these should not be missing.

However, the sector in which the company operates will determine the most interesting channels. TikTok It is ideal to announce a new cocktail or concert hall or a catering company, but there is little point in opening an account on this network to promote a hardware store or a law firm, says this expert.

For social media post management and analytics, Álvarez recommends Metricool and Hootsuite, both used by businesses of all sizes around the world and both affordable. While social networks are free, Rigola recommends running ad campaigns to segment audiences as much as possible. And it highlights the use of platforms specifically designed for businesses, which have both free and paid features: “Facebook Business Manager, Twitter Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and Google Ads”.

The price will vary depending on the functionalities and the package being contracted, so it is difficult to estimate the cost. For example, on Facebook you can start a campaign from five euros per month. In any case, it is always advisable, both experts agree, to start with a basic package or a trial period to see which one best suits the needs of the company.

And now, how do you manage all these accounts and passwords?

The problems that technology creates, it solves itself. The entrepreneur will have dozens of accounts and passwords once he has integrated the most suitable digital tools into his company. And for security reasons, they should be different.

To avoid forgetting or making mistakes, there are specific applications to store passwords. Rigola points to LastPass as the most efficient and intuitive. “Likewise, I recommend using native browser tools like Google Chrome or macOS to manage them,” he adds.

Cristóbal Álvarez, professor at ESIC Business & Marketing School highlights another apps: 1Password, for its reliability and high encryption capacity, that is, the level of privacy. This expert also emphasizes the importance of creating consistent passwords, with special characters, between letters and numbers, and avoiding public Wi-Fi to connect equipment.

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