The digital world has changed dramatically in recent years, and small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have had to keep up with the ever-evolving technology needs of their organization. With advances in cloud computing, mobile technologies, and internet speeds come new opportunities for SMBs—but also considerably greater IT infrastructure requirements. It is no longer enough for your business to simply be present online; customers expect fast loading times and reliable access across multiple devices. To compete successfully, SMBs must understand these changing IT needs so they can harness the power of smart technology investments.
What’s Different Today
The IT needs of small businesses have significantly changed in the past decade. Here are some ways in which the IT needs of small businesses are different from what they were 10 years ago.
Cloud computing is making it easier and more affordable for small businesses to invest in their technology needs. By utilizing this secure, efficient platform, they can store data with ease while having the luxury of cloud applications being just a single click away. Not only that, but it also allows them to access resources without having to pay for expensive hardware or hiring IT personnel. All of this lets small businesses enter the big league securely, quickly, and cost-effectively.
Mobile technology has become a widespread presence in our lives, potentially revolutionizing the way we do business. For companies that rely on their website or app as an integral part of their operating system, it’s absolutely crucial that they are mobile optimized—just think how quickly potential customers will tap out of an app if it takes too many steps to activate.
But it’s also important to consider the needs of company employees. With so many jobs involving constant travel or “hot desking” projects, being able to access team resources and collaborate with colleagues at short notice grows more and more attractive as cell phone connections become increasingly secure.
Cyber threats have become an increasingly daunting problem for small business owners. As such, investing in cybersecurity has become essential in order to protect company data and systems. Having a firewall is the first step toward safety, but with viruses or malware risk still present, adding specialized antivirus software is also a crucial element. Employee training can also greatly impact keeping businesses safe online. It’s important to educate workers on up-to-date cybersecurity best practices and make sure everyone is aware of how they can help safeguard your operations. Securing your online assets should always be a priority when running any type of organization.
The pandemic has certainly had an impact on many aspects of life, from the way we interact with each other to how we do our day jobs. Nowhere is this shift more apparent than in remote work, with numerous businesses big and small now leaning toward a more dynamic approach with their operations. As such, providing employees with the right technological support has never been so critical for preserving productivity, involvement, and creativity within any workforce, whether physically integrated behind four walls or scattered across several remote bases around the globe. Enterprises need to anticipate the uptake of video conferencing apps and other tools of collaboration to ensure ongoing success in their operations, even while collaborating online.
Big Data and Analytics
Businesses are generating massive amounts of data these days and small businesses want to be sure they can capitalize on the insights offered. But that means having a system in place to collect and store their data in an organized manner, which allows for higher degrees of accuracy in financial analytics efforts. Being able to effectively manage and analyze the broader data set then becomes increasingly important for independent operators, who need the ability to make well-informed business decisions as part of their day-to-day activities. With the right strategies, any organization, no matter how small or large it may be, can ensure that they remain at the possible front of industry growth with insightful data analysis.
Are There More Changes Coming?
The IT needs of small businesses are likely to continue evolving in the future. Here are some ways in which they may be different.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI has the potential to transform how small businesses operate by automating repetitive tasks, improving decision-making, and providing insights from data.
Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT is the interconnectivity of physical devices that allows for real-time data collection and analysis. Small businesses may use IoT to monitor inventory, track shipments, and optimize operations.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
AR and VR technologies can enhance customer experience by allowing customers to visualize products before making a purchase. Small businesses may need to adopt these technologies to remain competitive in e-commerce.
5G connectivity provides faster data transfer speeds and lower latency than current 4G networks. Small businesses may need to adopt 5G technologies to support the growing number of mobile devices and remote workers.
Blockchain is a decentralized ledger that can provide transparency, security, and traceability. Small businesses may use blockchain to improve supply chain management, payment processing, and data security.
Overall, the IT needs of small businesses have become more complex and require more sophisticated solutions than they did 10 years ago. Small businesses need to stay up-to-date with the latest technology trends and invest in the right IT solutions to remain competitive in their respective markets.