For a small business owner, investing time and energy in technology can feel like a distraction from your “real” business of remodeling kitchens or selling amazing flower arrangements. But sometimes, tech can help you land deals or make your business more competitive. And in today’s tough economic climate, we all need every advantage we can get.
iPads rule at Box.net, so we decided to find out if arming a small business with 20 iPads and our cloud content management solution would help them bring in more customers, or just be a big distraction.
We asked businesses to tell us why they might benefit from the iPad and Box combo, and out of more than 700 entries, we selected D7 Consulting, an Orange County-based specialty contractor that works on large commercial projects like the BART extension in the San Francisco Bay Area. D7′s role is to ensure that waterproofing is done correctly, so that nothing leaks when the job is done. Obviously, an important role – but how does high tech fit in? We weren’t quite sure, but D7′s Joe Daniels and Terrell Woods were enthusiastic about the experiment, and knew that their team of hard hat wearing waterproofing specialists would rise to the occasion.
And rise they did, in ways that we had never imagined. It turns out that the D7 team spends a lot of time on the roofs of buildings – taking video, making sketches and reviewing plans. They used to have to lug binders up to these rooftops and make any changes with pen and paper, followed by a lot of time standing in front of fax machines to share what they had learned.
With the iPad and Box, D7 moved from a world of “lead-time to real-time,” as CEO Joe Daniels puts it. Today, the D7 crew has a much lighter load – they can access all their project-related documents through the Box app on the iPad, make notes on files with Noterize, attach digital photos and videos, and share all this content with the general contractor and their home office instantly using Box. Information that used to take days to get into the right hands now takes minutes – a fact not lost on the big commercial general contractors that hire D7. Thanks to the iPad, D7 is accessing and sharing the information they need to make better decisions faster, and saving a ton of money in the process. In only a few weeks, more than one general contractor has told that D7′s use of technology will make them their preferred vendor in the future.
At the end of the day, that is what technology should do for your small business – it should help bring in more customers, and make your existing customers even happier. When evaluating any technology purchase, you should ask yourself, how will this make my business more productive or efficient? How will it enhance communication with customers or partners? Tools like the iPad, when combined with cloud-based business apps like Box, can transform your business by giving you real-time access to content, whether you’re in the office or on a rooftop. It might be the breakthrough you’re looking for.