The year’s now turned half, but news keeps coming. Small businesses are busier than ever, they’re hiring, adjusting to minimum wage increases, laws changing, and finding opportunities to grow in other markets and economies. Here are 5 tech trends and knowledge coming to impact small businesses for the rest of the year (and probably on) and how our businesses can benefit from them.
From the curated library of one of our partners:
1. 3D printing + Makers support + Prototyping
For those businesses that can benefit from showing prototypes, 3D printers have become great support. Prototypes that used to be costly and lengthy can be produced in printers that are affordable and fast. Plus this universe comes with a community of makers where data, blueprints and advice are shared openly.
Small businesses where artist’s, industrial designer’s or engineer’s work can benefit enormously by making this investment and have access to new uses, materials, and new relationships everywhere.
2. Cloud computing
Cloud computing (using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer) offers small businesses access to software and technical services that were previously too expensive.
Hosting information in remote servers rather than in physical servers, hard drives or disks is a huge advantage for processes and efficiency, not only costs. Once data is up, it can be accessed from any device, the files are secure and there’s no need for backups every certain time (or worrying in case laptops explode or disappear).
There are many tools that small businesses can now access to improve processes, from invoicing and tracking projects, to connectivity options for remote teams or customer relationship management.
3. Mobile devices + approaches
Related to remote teams, cloud computing and strategy: many businesses have cloud strategies and mobile strategies, but the benefits of the cloud will be limited by the speed with which traditional applications are re-written to take advantage of such environments. Without this redesign, the true benefits will be limited.
Small businesses have to think of mobile as only one part of a broader channel approach which requires a new kind of application architecture that must be capable of supporting systems of engagement (systems that provide Web-based access, usability across a variety of hardware and software platforms, and cross-organizational collaboration).
4. On data limitations
Related once more to big data: new adaptive intelligence approaches are coming and firms shed yesterday’s data limitations.
Businesses embracing big data concepts, open data, and adopting new adaptive intelligence approaches are the creators of next generation smart systems that overcome limitations and create disruptive business innovations. This is means that cheaper, more agile, collaborative, and adaptive methods for analytics and data sharing are key.
Analyzing and reflecting on behaviors, customers and relationships are other areas where businesses can benefit from technology, processes and platforms: they’ll help to respond in real-time, anticipate user action, and meet users in their moment of need.
Related to mobility and new teams: outsource business technology that small businesses can’t (and shouldn’t) handle. Outsourcing comes with the fear of losing control of organizations and teams, but this is sometimes key for achieving the business technology needs your company has but cannot currently achieve without help.
Needs come from many areas, but those that could benefit from outsourcing are usually: integrating migration to the cloud, mobile technology, software development, and managed backup.
Thanks to connectivity and efficiency platforms (see cloud computing above), managing an external team is less difficult nowadays, providing business owners with the time they need to focus on customers and guide their organizations.