When someone mentions software to you, what do you think of? Most business owners (unless they’re tech savvy) have absolutely no idea about software and what it actually does, or what could even be classified as software. They usually understand that hardware is their computer, the parts inside of it and also their monitors and peripherals, but the software still mystifies them. Either that or they think they know what software is but they fail to understand how it actually impacts the business.
A good understanding of software, how it works and what it’s for is crucial to business operation. Most of this is typically handled by a competent member of staff that understand computers and how they work, but it’s never a bad idea to learn more about software.
Many managers and business owners don’t have the right knowledge or they misunderstand what software can be used for, so here’s a comprehensive guide on what software is, how exactly it impacts the business and how you can change your understanding for the better.
What Exactly Is Software and Why Is It Important to Understand?
If you want to fully understand what software is, how it impacts your business and why it’s actually important to know these things, then we need to start from the beginning.
Computers are dumb, this should come as no surprise. Without user input, computers can’t actually do anything. You might spend thousands on a complicated computer system, but if you don’t have any software on it then it won’t actually know what to do. Computers are, however, very fast machines.
They can process things faster than any human which is why they’re so useful. Their memories are infinitely better than a human’s as well, meaning they can store vast amounts of data on their hard drives. In addition, they can access this data at blazing fast speeds.
If you’ve ever had trouble recalling a memory then you’ll understand what it’s like. However, computers don’t have this trouble and they can access the data stored in their memory with no issue.
However, despite all of these advantages, computers can’t do any of this without someone telling them what to do. That’s why software is required; it allows the powerful hardware to actually be useful and do something instead of sitting there dormant.
Everything on your computer, be it your operating system or the little boot-up logo that shows when you turn on your computer, is part of the software. It doesn’t matter what operating system you use, it’s all software and every single program you run is software.
With this in mind, you should have a better understanding of how computers work and why some software is as expensive as it is. If there’s a limitation that your business suffers from, then it could be remedied by investing in a new type of software.
Anything that you want to do on your computer, be it mass-organising files, storing vast amounts of data and later looking through it or even generating random messages to add to your products, it can be done with a computer. Your hardware is powerful, but without the right software, it’s almost useless.
The Types of Software that Can Help Your Business
Everyone knows about simple software such as word processing programs, image editing and perhaps even industry-specific programs such as audio production or video editing. All of these programs come with a cost, which means they need to be accounted for in your expenses.
Certain industry-specific programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Sony Vegas are incredibly expensive, especially when bought as a business. These are, however, incredibly important to certain companies because they serve as the backbone of their workflow.
If you don’t have an image editing program as a design studio, then you’re not going to get very far using pens and pencils exclusively.
In addition to industry-specific software, there are also pieces of software that can be used as a general business assistance tool. For example, Wizper services allow you to track data that is useful for improving customer experiences. It can analyse the traffic on your website, it can judge how well-exposed your business is and it’s accessible on a number of different devices, giving it amazing portability.
These are the types of software that every business can use to improve their business, but analysing your data is just one such example. There are smaller programs that can allow you to connect with office members, there’s software aimed at workflow collaboration and there’s even software that allows you to use a single mouse and keyboard on multiple devices.
With so much software, it really begs the question: what’s good for my business? This is something that is hard to answer because there are just so many different types of software available on the market that it would be hard to recommend a specific program for a specific situation.
The reason there’s so much software on the market is that they all serve different purposes. Even Google Docs and Office 365, both productivity software packages, serve different purposes despite both having similar features. Google Docs is targeted towards startups and businesses that put a heavy emphasis on remote working, and Office 365 is a powerhouse that is targeted towards professional businesses that need a host of extra features that a new startup couldn’t comprehend.
In short, think of software as a solution. Solutions are created in response to problems, so if you have a problem you need to look for a piece of software to remedy the problem. Do you think that your workflow is clunky? Then perhaps you need to find a piece of software that allows you to manage your workflow better such as a scheduling program.
Do you find it hard to deal with your finances? A cloud-based accounting package will help you. It’s important to remember that software won’t fix every issue, but it’s good to look for software solutions if you have a problem.
Software as a Service
A popular trend that many startups make ample use of is “software as a service”. Instead of purchasing software to be used on your computer, software as a service means that you’re using software by paying a subscription fee.
Most of these involve cloud tools, and they’re usually incredibly useful for anyone looking to lower their operating and startup costs. A good example of software as a service is cloud accounting software and cloud-based website design tools.
Instead of using offline tools that don’t require an internet connection, these types of programs utilise the internet. Most of your data is stored on their servers, meaning you don’t need a hard drive or a powerful computer to use their services.
The advantage of using software as a service is clear; it allows you to lower running costs and increases the possibility of working remotely thanks to the online nature of cloud tools. For instance, your intern is writing a technical report on an upcoming product, hire an editor to read the document outside office hours by using cloud-based tools such as Google Docs.
If you need to quickly look at your business finances but you’re out of the office, then a cloud-based accounting package that has a mobile app will allow you to do that.
Remote working is an efficient way to run your business due to how much flexibility it offers you. Many companies are using the internet exclusively to run their business and they don’t even need an office due to how comprehensive software as a service is. You can use online messaging and web conferencing apps to communicate with team members, documents to collaborate, and cloud-based tools to get marketing and promotional work done.
Software creates solutions for issues that you never even thought about in the past, which is why it’s incredibly useful to think of software as a helpful tool and not as a rigid thing in your business that can’t change. Your business could grow exponentially thanks to software and by changing your understanding of it to fit your workflow.
Final Words and a Summary
Hopefully, this article has shed some light on what software actually is, how it helps your business and has given you a deeper understanding of how it works. Instead, it’s important to think of software as a solution.
As with all solutions, there needs to be a problem for it to solve anything, but there are times when you can create a solution for something that has yet to become a problem. This foresight is what will give you the upper hand no matter what industry you’re in. Ultimately planning ahead by using technology will give you brand awareness and grow your business.
Remember that software is there to help you achieve your goals, meet targets and ultimately smooth out your workflow.