The New Year is almost upon us yet again, which can only mean one thing — it’s time to stop looking backwards and focus on how you can use technology to brace for the future. When leveraged properly, technology is a valuable asset particularly if you are a small businesses. Not only does it allow you to offer superior customer experiences through better services, but it also allows you to carve out your competitive advantage so you can stand the test of time.
Technology is in a constant state of flux, which is why there are certain key trends that small businesses need to be aware of for 2018 and beyond. Many of these represent more than just simple "fads." For an SME, being in the know with the latest technological ideas represents an unbeatable opportunity to make 2018 your strongest year yet.
1. Proactive Cybersecurity
When you consider the fact that the average consolidated cost of a data breach hit $3.62 million in 2017, a more proactive approach to cybersecurity will likely be one of the biggest tech trends for 2018 — and the most important. This is especially true when you consider that a recent legislation introduced in Australia punishes businesses who fail to report data breaches, which could make them likely targets for hackers.
Gone are the days where passive virus scanning or even rudimentary network analysis is enough to keep you, your employees, and your clients safe from cybersecurity attacks. With threats like ransomware on the rise, the stakes have never been higher, which is why many small businesses are turning to a Managed Service Provider(MSP) to obtain the type of proactive, comprehensive, and holistic cybersecurity they’re going to need even more as time goes on.
2. The Year of Location-Based Advertising
According to one recent study, there will be a public Wi-Fi hotspot for every 20 people in the United States by the end of 2018. Australia’s numbers are very similar, which is why location-based advertising will become even more critical than it already is.
When someone connects to a Wi-Fi hotspot and then visits your business’ website, you instantly know exactly where they are. This location information can allow you to send better, more accurate, and more timely advertising messages right to their devices — something that doesn’t just increase the chance that they’ll make a visit to your physical business, but that also increases the odds of a sale at the exact same time.
3. The Rise of Remote Workers
According to the New York Times, more and more people are working remotely around the world. In the United States in 2016, for example, 43% of people spent at least some time working remotely — an increase of 4% since 2012.
If you have yet to really think about implementing the ability to work remotely in your own business, 2018 is an excellent time to start. Not only does it reduce your own overhead (because you suddenly don’t need space for less people), but it also helps increase employee productivity, improve the quality of their work, and lower their overall stress levels all in one fell swoop.
4. Mobile Payments Are Still a Trend to Watch
Though it seems like mobile payment services like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and many others are becoming more and more popular with each passing day, they’re not quite as mainstream as they were predicted to be just yet.
Apple Pay, for example, saw its highest usage ever in June of 2017 at 5.5% of payments from all NFC readers worldwide. There is still a lot of room for growth, which is precisely why this is a trend you’ll want to embrace sooner rather than later.
Not only does the acceptance of mobile payments make it easier for your remote workers to interact with clients in the field, but it’s also a trend that is very popular with younger audiences (think: millennials) in particular. Adopting this now could give you a major advantage with that younger segment of the market during a time where this is of critical importance.
5. Going "All In" on the Internet of Things
Finally, we have the Internet of Things — another trend that has been around for a few years that is poised to pick up major steam in 2018 in particular. But for small businesses, adoption of the IoT has less to do about the customer-centric portion of your business and is more about the incredibly important internal applications.
Imagine a situation where a sensor automatically alerted you to the fact that one of your employee’s laptop hard drives was about to fail, allowing you to quickly replace it before the machine itself crashed (taking all the work done on that last big project with it). Or if you run a factory, imagine a situation where your machines and other assets literally tell you when they need to be maintained so that you can fix small issues before they become much bigger and more expensive later on.
This is the world we’re currently living in and its all possible thanks in part to the Internet of Things. If you haven’t already begun to embrace IoT and all that it can offer to your own SMEs, now would be an excellent time to start.
The Powernet Approach
At Powernet, we pride ourselves on being more than just a business-centric IT company. We not only understand how to leverage technology and data to create the better business outcomes that you can depend on, but we can also do it in a way that is fully customised from the ground up with your specific organisation in mind. One of the great things about technology is that it is so malleable — a concept that we’re ready and willing to use to your advantage all day, every day.
If you’re in Australia and have additional questions about these or other top tech trends that your small business should be aware of for 2018, or if you’d just like to find out more about how a managed service provider might be the right move for your SME, don’t delay — contact Powernet today.