Enterprises and large, international corporations lead the way in technology, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t fit into the picture. SMBs are putting technology to use at an ever increasing rate thanks to the growing number of small businesses focused on eCommerce and digital services. Even if your business is not focused on internet sales, you should be keeping an eye on technology trends. With everything that’s changing in 2019, you don’t want to miss out on anything!
Here’s what is on everyone’s radar right now:
The typical modern workplace uses a handful of different solutions to communicate and manage operations. A single office may be using Office 365 for email, Slack for team management, Dropbox for file storage, Basecamp to plan projects, and Salesforce to manage their customer database.
It’s very difficult to make all of these programs “talk to” each other or share data, which is why unifying these different solutions has already been a top goal in 2019.
Roy Mann, CEO and co-founder for Monday.com predicts: “There is going to be a breakthrough with integration platforms that will allow any software to connect well with any other software.”
Some software companies are consolidating their own suites of interconnected solutions, while others are looking for different solutions. One commonly-used workaround comes from apps like Zapier and PieSync, which allow users to create custom API integrates between programs to allow for the (sometimes limited) sharing of information between them.
Importance of cybersecurity
Cyber criminals have clearly identified small businesses as prime targets. Cybercrime is expected to become more profitable than the illegal drug trade within the next three years, and everyone who is connected to the internet is fair game.
Small businesses are particularly vulnerable because they tend to take the risk of ransomware or data breaches less seriously. That mentality is beginning to change, fortunately.
“SMBs are starting to take the risk seriously and act accordingly by being proactive,” said CEO of Vijilan Security, Kevin Nejad. “It helps that the costs of solutions such as data backup and 24/7 monitoring have become affordable for nearly any sized business.”
Social media marketing
Social media marketing is still trending upwards in terms of small business uptake. SMBs enjoy having direct access to targeted audiences when it comes to promotion, and platforms such as a Facebook and Instagram are more than willing to provide.
“The real value of social media marketing is its ability to help small business owners target niche audiences,” says marketing consultant and agency partner J.P. Roe. “This is especially useful for businesses that are looking for customers in their surrounding area.”
A recent study shows that over 75% of U.S. consumers have purchased a product they saw in a brand’s social media post. If you have a product or service that you need to promote, 2019 is probably the time to start making use of social media marketing.
Social media influencers have become the new golden goose of marketing. Someone with a loyal following numbering in the hundreds of thousands can drive sales through the roof with a single endorsement on Twitter. Typically, this kind of endorsement is only available to huge companies (or those who wish to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a single Facebook post), but this is slowly changing.
The advent of “micro-influencers” is making it possible for smaller companies to leverage their authority and trust in smaller markets or with specific niches. The options are becoming more varied, but an SMB will still have to be a bit tech-savvy and connected to find the right people to push their brand.
Still, if you can pull it off the payout can be tremendous. Influencers bring a new level of authenticity to a brand and consumers respond very well to that.
5G is the latest and greatest iteration of cellular technology and promises faster speeds than 4G LTE with little to no latency (around 1 millisecond, according to Huawei, which is about 50 times better than 4G LTE.) This means that we will potentially be downloading full-length movies to our mobile devices in a matter of seconds.
The real potential of 5G involves the burgeoning internet of things (IoT). The higher speeds can support even more interconnected devices, the list of which is becoming longer by the day. Right now, it’s common to see smart home devices, vehicles, and even kitchen appliances as part of the IoT, but many more devices are on the way.
Right now, 5G is poised to become a reality sometime in the first half of 2019.
Artificial Intelligence for Small Business
Many years ago, it seemed like Artificial Intelligence (AI) was only talked about in terms of its potential applications in video games. Before long, enterprise companies found ways to use AI in everything from marketing to risk management. Now, advanced AI is at work behind the scenes of software and tools used by countless small businesses.
AI does a great job of increasing efficiency, taking manual tasks out of the hands of business owners so that they have more time to work on what’s important. When it comes to growing your business, the right application of AI-driven tools can also give you a massive advantage.
Fewer companies — especially small businesses — are taking on the struggle of managing their IT in-house. With outsourced IT providers like Integral Networks providing comprehensive business technology services for a fraction of the cost of hiring a single full-time IT professional, this comes as no surprise.
Managed IT is the smartest way to go for most SMBs, and with so much ongoing innovation in cloud technology, it’s only getting better. To learn more about how Integral Networks can help you leverage growing trends in technology to scale your business, contact us or schedule your free demo.