Technology is evolving…
One of my favorite things about technology is that it is constantly evolving. For small businesses, understanding the trends of technology can serve to shape your business plans and strategies. Here are three of the current trends that you should be thinking about as you plan you online strategy for 2014 and beyond:
1. Things are going mobile
We’ve been hearing about this for some time as the adoption of mobile by small businesses has been slow. However, with more than 50 percent of American adults with smartphones and 80 percent of those who have setup their email on their phones, businesses now have an easier time of reaching the consumer at the point of purchase. This means the ability to check your email for that coupon or promotion while waiting in line at your favorite retailer. Or from a business to business standpoint, access to documents on your phone means conducting business virtually anywhere without having to be in the office. You could close your next deal while riding the elevator or on the beach in Maui…
2. Get your files out of the cloud
The cloud is an application that is hosted on specific servers and utilizes the internet as its communication conduit. First introduced in 2006, the idea that we would store files and information anywhere other than on our own computers or that of our employer seemed futuristic. Yet, today cloud computing continues to become more popular. Nearly all small business applications such as email autoresponders, marketing tools, client and project management systems are cloud based.
Of course, the primary concern challenging companies and consumers from adopting this technology are the fears of security. But concerns are dissipating. A poll last year by InformationWeek indicated that close to 65% of businesses had some type of service provider that was cloud based, up from 2012. As more businesses adopt this model, we’ll be getting more of our files out of the cloud.
3. Telecommuting and contractor jobs will increase
As mobile technology becomes more reliable and accessible, we will continue to see in a rise in contractors and telecommuting. Why? It’s all about cost and expertise. Obtaining the necessary expertise is now not limited to your local geography. Since nearly 35 percent of the world’s population has access to the internet, businesses can hire the skills they are looking for virtually anywhere in the world.
According to the BusinessWeek Magazine, hiring a contractor or freelancer can save a business up to 30 percent over hiring an employee. In today’s economic environment, 30 percent savings on overhead can be significant. If you are a small business and can hire your accountant who does amazing work from home in their bunny slippers, you might consider this option as a growth strategy and save that money for marketing.
As technology evolves, you need to understand the trends that will affect your business. There no longer is the option to adapt slowly. Expanding your business strategies to allow for adopting these trends may not put you on the forefront of technology, but it will keep you from being run over by it.