COVID-19’s unprecedented business disruption has hurt SMEs hard. But the digital transformation it sparked has accelerated several technologies which will benefit smaller businesses this year. These are four key trends in the area of finance that will help pave the way to SME success in 2021.
1. The rise of real-time financing
Real-time financing will be a game-changer in 2021 for SMEs, many of whom have struggled with cashflow over the past year. More businesses will take advantage of real-time working capital/invoice financing solutions and digital credit cards such as Waddle and Iwoka to manage cashflow and receive funding easily.
Better integration into cloud accounting platforms, improved lending algorithms and increased competition will spearhead this trend.
2. Increased adoption of low-code platforms
The adoption of low-code platforms will also increase, making it easy and affordable even for smaller companies to build their own apps. More businesses will use applications such as Microsoft’s PowerApps for rapid automation and more effective process management. Low code platforms are now viable alternatives to traditional third-party or off-the-shelf products, which can increase time to market, be costly and inflexible. Instead, many SMEs will develop their own low code tools to streamline their operations, upskilling existing staff rather than needed to hire specialist developers.
This trend is set to increase over the coming years. According to Gartner research, speed to market and business process automation are the primary reasons businesses are turning to low-code platforms. Gartner found that low-code platforms improved productivity, citizen development and the user experience.
3. The end of CAPEX in tech
Large CAPEX investment in the configuration and implementation of technology solutions, including SaaS applications, will be a thing of the past. Setup/implementation wizards will reduce complexity and will become part of SaaS opex costs, and tools and extensions will be built to build simplicity and repeatability around this.
Everything will be more on tap, on demand, and more agile, with subscribing the preferred option rather than buying outright. No one wants to get left with expensive, fast-obsolescing legacy tech.
4. Provenance: getting supply chain transparency
Decades of globalisation have disconnected us from the reality of production. It has become increasingly hard to track the place of origin and production details behind a product, including the conditions experienced by workers. The Covid pandemic has only added to supply chain disruption.
Organisations will increasingly want to audit their supply chain, not only for efficiency but also social responsibility, as we’ve seen with the recent China cotton issue. Buyers are becoming more conscious about the impact of products on people and the environment, and there’s a growing focus for “buying local”.
Blockchain technology is one solution, effectively allowing technology to come with a “digital passport”. Using blockchain creates a decentralised, auditable, tamper-proof layer of information between businesses and shoppers, enabling shoppers to review “verified” information on businesses and products through scanning smart tags or QR codes on their mobile.
Ultimately, fostering a culture of innovation and adopting these new technologies will be at the core of business priorities in 2021. Embedding digital culture within your business and team practices will be critical in achieving a successful digital transformation and thriving post-COVID.
Jonathan Attia, Managing Director, Wiise