Technology is very much in the news these days. If it’s not the latest claims (or fears) about Artificial Intelligence (AI), it’s the hearings on Capitol Hill examining the merits and dangers of technology advancement. Some technology trends, like the proliferation of 5G cellular networks and artificial intelligence, are steadily gaining significance for the small and medium-sized business (SMB) community. Other technology changes are relatively new and haven’t yet disrupted the SMB community, but their significance is undeniable.
The continued impact of the trends that took hold during the pandemic reshaped how, where and when people work. Despite many attempts, most employees still work remotely at least one day a week and there is little evidence this new normal will change any time soon. Technology will play a crucial role in rebalancing, reconstructing, and reinvigorating small and midsize businesses as they continue to adapt and plug the holes of productivity, cybersecurity, and accountability.
As a member of the SMB community, you may not see your firm at the forefront of developing technology trends, but the technology you employ today is still vital to your business’s growth and efficiency. Given how much things changed in the past year, SMB technology trends will only become more important in the second half of 2023, no matter the industry or vertical.
New infrastructure like 5G will continue to gain traction, while proven markets like cybersecurity safeguarding will have an increasing impact on small and medium-sized businesses. Listed here are some of the trends we see playing an increasingly significant role for the SMB community.
Artificial Intelligence Becomes More Widespread Artificial intelligence and machine learning are not new, they have been around for many years. ChatGPT brought AI to the masses, and with the genie out of the bottle, the expanding uses for AI will explode exponentially. This includes voice assistants, personalized customer experiences and e-commerce chatbot services. In fact, artificial intelligence business trends already include more AI in cybersecurity, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and market research.
The Impact of 5G
While providers like AT&T and Verizon have touted the benefits of 5G for years now, small and medium-sized businesses haven’t seen the impact yet, but this doesn’t mean the business implications of 5G are not significant. The adoption of 5G technology began in 2019, but the pandemic significantly delayed the rollout domestically and internationally. Still, the benefits of adopting the fifth generation of cellular capability include much faster data transmission speeds than 4G networks. 5G networks are more capable of supporting the influx of interconnected smart devices than 4G or Wi-Fi.
Employee Monitoring Software Will Mature Hybrid and remote teams are here to stay, which means employee monitoring software is too. Although many small and medium-sized businesses haven’t seen a real need for these tools, as productivity measures increase, so will the tools to manage remote workers.
Technology Assisted Transactions Expand
As the need to cut costs and boost profitability increases, many small and medium-sized businesses will turn to mobile solutions to make transacting with clients easier, more secure and dependable. These include mobile payments, QR codes, mobile terminals and mobile wallets. As the pricing for these solutions becomes more manageable, the SMB community will follow suit.
“Super Apps” Emerge as the Next Generation Business Software Gartner predicts that 2023 will usher in the start of widespread development and use of what it dubs “Super Apps”. Super Apps allow for the combination and unification of disparate app services into one easy to use interface. Think about having to jump from Microsoft Teams to Excel to Zoom Phone. Wouldn’t it be nice to have access to all these applications from one portal? Small and medium-sized businesses will begin to take advantage of these Super Apps to better streamline operations for employees and vendors.
Automation has long remained a buzzword in small business circles, but the SMB community is now looking seriously at workplace automation to save money and cover problem areas. With the continued shortage of workers in select sectors, automation investments will increase. This will give rise to new companies that create and offer automated solutions. They will use the cloud to help ensure that the push toward automation heats up.
Continued Focus on Cybersecurity The shift to remote work spawned new forms of fraud, with malware evolving in response to greater virtual communication and the rising domestic use of workplace hardware. However, this sense of risk hasn’t trickled down to small businesses. Most small businesses still think it’s unlikely they will be targeted in a cyberattack. Year after year, North America sees a 47 percent increase in total attack volume. Small businesses are three times more likely to be targeted in phishing attacks than enterprise-sized businesses. As regulators ramp up cyber safeguard mandates and more frequent business disruptions appear in the news, the SMB community will see a need to adopt and pay for increasing cybersecurity safeguards. Small businesses must balance the benefits of technology with the risks and challenges it can pose. By prioritizing technology concerns and taking proactive steps to address them, small and medium-sized businesses can stay competitive and thrive in today's digital landscape. Understanding technology trends, even if they are not immediatly adopted, allows SMBs to use innovation, improve efficiency, enhance the customer experience, access global markets, make data-driven decisions, mitigate risks, and adapt to changing business environments. Ignoring technology trends can put SMBs at a disadvantage and limit their growth potential in today's digital world.
If your business is questioning the right time to address technology opportunities and which direction to move in, call us to understand how we can help your business maximize technology and productivity with a safe and managed approach. We offer white-glove, personalized technology services and support. Roark Tech Services is an expert in fit-for-purpose technology solutions exclusively for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses. Always consult with us first. If you don’t have an IT Partner that you can trust to give you the right support and advice, we’d love to help. Contact us