The year is in full swing with 2017 half way done. However, there is still time to tackle efficiency with technology. First, it’s important to realize why as a small business owner you should attempt to stay aware of trends. It does not necessarily mean investing all your money each year into new technology or even investing early by gambling on new trends. In fact, we highly suggest doing your research and budgeting each year for upgrades as well as consulting with someone in the industry to make sure you invest your money wisely. A study conducted by a Boston consulting group looked at whether SMBs who wisely invested in use of technology “actually do better than those who are less likely to use technology.” They found that technology focused businesses created new jobs almost twice the rate as other small businesses as well as increased annual revenues by 15% greater over less technologically advanced SMBs. Following are the top 5 technology trends to watch for in 2017.
5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Business Intelligence (BI) – You may have already seen the increase in commercials advertising artificial intelligence like the Amazon echo and computers with their own AI components. So it is not a surprise that this would make our list since it has already hit the market for consumers. However, there is an entirely different market open to SMBs in which big data analytics are now meeting artificial intelligence to create effective forms of business intelligence. All businesses have experience and fit somewhere on the spectrum of their own uses of the wide world of CRM (Customer Relationship Management). These can be anything from an excel spreadsheet that tracks clients to full blown analytical software that manages every task and interaction. There are many benefits to importing those outdated excel sheets into these systems which ultimately help you save priceless time.
4. Internet of Things (IoT) – It is very likely you may have heard the phrase, “Internet of Things” or seen it referenced as IoT. While this is not something new, the continued growth has positioned itself to take the market by storm with a number of benefits and drawbacks tagging along. One of the huge benefits for SMBs is there will be a vast increase in technology options available and they won’t have to wait until the technology is nearly outdated to afford it! One of the biggest drawbacks is that the rate of demand is so high for these devices, that security has been compromised with very few requirements creating additional vulnerabilities.
3. Cloud Integrations – The cloud has been the hot buzzword for a few years now and boy have we seen a huge migration from traditional servers to both all cloud and hybrid cloud solutions. In fact, nearly one third of SMBs were investing in some form of cloud offerings in 2016 as it continues to be a viable option that is easily scalable. Be ready for this cloud invest to become a large payoff as the marketplace continues to become more mobile and integrated. The cloud will offer new ways to analyze and utilize collaboration features for teams. As the millennial workforce continues to take over, we are seeing a more mobile workforce that utilizes apps and work from home technology. The integration of cloud concepts will cater to both of these trends while offering security.
2. Payment Processing – Two huge changes that are currently taking place will drive new trends in payment processing and PCI compliance concerns in 2017. First, more and more people will begin to adapt to paying with their phones and devices will be at increased risk for cybersecurity while also creating a new need for adaptability in terms of payment processing . Second, we have already begun a transition to “chip cards” that have been considered longer overdue in the United States. Both of these mean that many SMBs will be looking at or forced to invest in new payment processing technologies to meet requirements and consumer demand. What should you buy and how do you know what is PCI compliant? PCI compliance will be a huge concern moving forward, because many SMBs have gone too long already without updating their systems to compliancy standards. There is no better time than now to make sure your new system meets these standards to better avoid the hefty fines that an SMB could be hit with.
1. Cybersecurity – You may have already recognized a trend in the overall theme of this article which points to our number one trend for 2017, cybersecurity. Cyberattacks are silently picking off SMBs without many even knowing they have been compromised. On average, Microsoft found there is 229 days in between infiltration and discovery of a cyber-attack. SMBs will reach a breaking point in 2017 where the vulnerabilities will vastly outweigh the slim chances of not being “hacked” in some form. “All too often they take an outdated, ineffective, 1990s-era approach to security, deploying point solutions to ward off the latest security threat du jour,” says SMB Group in one of its report. In the same report, SMB Group found that SMBs ranked cybersecurity as their number one technology challenge.
As you work through your plans for second half 2017, keep these trends in mind. If you would like to know how your business stack up against the competition, email me at DanYoung@b2bcfo.com to schedule a complimentary session.
Make it a great day!!