Small Businesses Making a Big Impact

By Wendy Taccetta – Senior VP, Small and Medium Business Solutions, Verizon Business

Ask anyone about the last few years and they will say the world has completely changed. Not only have we grown as a culture, but businesses have also evolved. No one knows this better than the small and midsize business (SMB) owner. While many SMBs were hit hard by a serious business downturn, others survived by making adjustments and finding new ways to operate by leveraging technology.

As the Small Business Administration points out, “small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy. They create two-thirds of net new jobs and drive U.S. innovation and economic activity.”

Small businesses make up a critical cog of the economy and most importantly a significant source of hiring. Consider the fact that according to the 2020 report from the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, there are more than 31.7 million small businesses in the U.S. employing more than 60 million Americans. And their impact stretches deeper than one might think as nearly 32% of the United States’ $1.5 trillion in total exports came from small businesses. In other words, the health and wellness of small and midsized businesses has had an enormous impact on the American economy overall.

Small businesses are often lacking resources available to enterprises. This gap is increasingly relevant now that new digital technologies have become the significant dividing factor between companies that will flourish and those that will flounder.

Small companies that have thrived have done so by bringing in technologies unavailable until just a few years ago, allowing them to rejigger and reimagine their business structures, offer new services that their customers are asking for and streamline costs of doing business. According to a recent survey of small business owners across the country, 65 percent of those polled generate more money from digital operations now than before the pandemic.

We created BlueJeans Telehealth, a purpose-built, HIPAA-ready virtual care solution, to help serve this purpose. And by adding integrations like our partnership with Redox, an interoperability platform that connects with 85+ EHR systems, we’re making it easier to work with smaller, more niche providers to serve the community and patient population.

Supercharging the digital transformation revolution

One important technology helping to fuel the digital transformation of SMBs is 5G, the next generation of wireless technology, offering ultra-fast speeds, low latency, and massive capacity to enable near real-time communications.

The high speeds 5G can offer could also enable companies to engage with their employees in remote locations making them more competitive in the race for talent by ensuring they can offer the same type of flexible work policies that larger competitors have. Additionally, 5G allows for new and futuristic technology like virtual reality headsets to be used to solve business problems and to create complex, interactive, real-time learning sessions.

The use of technology has already proven to be a great boom to small and midsize businesses emerging from the worst days of the pandemic. In fact, while forced to work remotely, our small business survey found that 62% of respondents say that the level of their collaboration has increased thanks to new technology.

Consider how we communicated thirty years ago, using the same tools: a landline, a fax machine, and an occasional email. Today businesses can communicate with their employees and customers in a myriad of ways, including mobile phone, email, text, WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook, LinkedIn, BlueJeans by Verizon, or Twitter, to name a few. While you may not know what method or platform your partners and customers prefer, new technologies can aggregate all these methods — giving you instant access to your contacts no matter how they’re reaching out.

Innovations in health care

New technologies are also allowing organizations such as healthcare providers to operate remotely using sophisticated video conferencing tools. Telehealth virtual doctor visits grew exponentially during the pandemic. And now, thanks to advanced cellular connections, it’s morphing into something much more impactful: telesurgery. Physicians in private practices in remote areas can now call upon the top colleagues in their field to guide them as they perform complex, rare operations. And soon, robotic surgery powered by 5G connections could allow those surgeons to perform procedures even though they’re not actually in the same room as the patient. For example, Redox, working with BlueJeans Telehealth, has created a purpose-built, HIPAA-ready video conferencing solution designed to help drive better patient interactions, making it easier to work with smaller, more niche providers to serve the community and patient population.

Embracing a digital education

Educational institutions are also benefiting from new technologies. AlphaBEST Education, a leading provider of before- and after-school enrichment programs, is using advanced internet technologies including 5G, video conferencing unified communications, and cybersecurity protection to help support this nonprofit and enable them to reach their students across the 16 states they serve.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing students were particularly affected by the Covid school shutdown, as they need in-person connections to develop and thrive. Working with Long Island’s Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, Verizon provided technology that enabled free hearing screenings for 1,000 individuals, taught 40 children sign language during Sign Language Camp, and placed 32 deaf adults in jobs, among other achievements. In addition, a $15,000 grant was given to ensure that students now forced to use remote learning had the technological tools necessary for the specialized education its 400 students require.

The implementation of technology is proving to be a winning strategy for SMBs. That’s because today’s modern, digitally savvy consumers have grown up with technology. For small businesses to thrive and remain profitable for years to come, it’s important that they are relevant, listen to their customers and meet their expectations on how they choose to do business with them.