Familiarity with how other businesses are using technology to market themselves is vital when you’re coming up with an effective and workable marketing model.
Sound knowledge of your context is essential.
This is why you need to keep an eye on the statistics and trends pertaining to businesses of a similar size to yours, and how they’re getting their name out there.
Visiting forums and reading top 10 lists on blogs can only take you so far, though.
There is a handful of excellent, (mostly) free sites researching business trends in Australia and abroad as of October 2009.
Australian company Sensis endeavour to track the use of technology and its impact on e-commerce in small to medium businesses. They release an annual report that covers everything from online advertising and website construction/management to how to optimise email usage and the use of wireless in e-business. From 2005 onwards, the report has included a section on the behaviour and attitudes of consumers with respect to their e-business activities. Vital reading for any SME.
BT Quarterly is, as you’d expect, a business trends magazine that is published every three months. The online counterpart to the publication is well worth checking out. It offers a wealth of information in the form of podcasts and webcasts, along with research and opinion articles.
The topics covered on this site seem endless, but all pertain to current business trends in technology and are written for the purpose of informing you, the SME owner, how to integrate them into your business strategy. The only criticism of this site is that its content is dense and not easy to digest at a glance; but then, you’d expect that from content that’s this in-depth, wouldn’t you?
The only hurdle presented by business trend sites is that, increasingly, the information they provide assumes a certain degree of technological know-how. Thankfully, they are matched by a couple of superb white paper search engines. White papers are authoritative reports that address issues encountered by businesses of various sizes and offer possible solutions or explanations.
Sparx Systems is a company that specialises in visual modelling tools for the construction of software-intensive systems. Fortunately, you don’t need to know what that means to benefit from the content offered by them. Sparx Systems’ site harbours an extensive white-paper repository, with a particular emphasis on developing software and code (invaluable for those of us who aren’t professional uber-geeks). All reports are downloadable.PDFs and are simple to process, being reasonably diagrammatic.
Find White Papers is tough to beat as a source of tech and business trend solutions, though. Unlike Sparx, this site isn’t trying to sell anything, so the information offered doesn’t tend towards a particular aspect of business and tech trends. Instead, the site operates off submissions by members (membership is free) and makes its money by offering the possibility of ‘sponsored’ case studies. FWP was created for the purpose of providing knowledge and information for both technology and business professionals. If you’re looking for in-depth, thoroughly researched information on wireless security or enterprise resource planning, look no further. #