2017 was a big year for technology, with the introduction of virtual assistants in the home, and augmented reality, blurring the line between the physical and digital world. Without a doubt, the rate of technological innovation is making it difficult for businesses to keep up with the ongoing change.
But are any of these tech trends set to shake up the world of small business in 2018? Here are five tech trends that small business can expect to see, and capitalise on, in the coming year.
Cloud computing is one of those tech trends that is well and truly here, with browser based applications now dominating the way we undertake work. Small businesses should fully embrace this change and move as much of their operations to the cloud as possible, making locally managed hardware redundant and saving on costs as a result.
Cloud computing will allow small businesses to store their data completely online. Not only will this add to the convenience of not having to carry around a hard drive or USB, but it will be accessible anywhere, on any device, at any time of day. It is also a lot more secure.
Cloud accounting has passed the tipping point for small businesses – and why wouldn’t it? Products like Xero, MYOB and Quickbooks are taking over thanks to their intuitive design and simplified approach to bookkeeping and accounting.
No longer do businesses need to be chained to their accounting applications in their office. As long as you have access to an internet connection, you can access real-time business data and analytics on the go.
Sick of waiting for cash to hit your bank accounts? This should help. 2018 is the year payments should begin to immediately hit your bank account once they are sent. No more waiting 24 hours or two working days for a payment to hit your account. Real-time payments are set to be largely implemented in as early as January 2018. The rollout will also mean that payments can be made with “Pay IDs”, such as your phone number rather than a bank account number and BSB.
Complementary to the rise of cloud services, the push for more flexible working conditions has forced small businesses to change their conditions of employment. Technology has enabled employees to work from almost anywhere with an internet connection. Studies have conclusively shown that this approach to working has had an enormously positive impact on employee engagement, enabling greater productivity and saving costs for both businesses and their workforce.
With video projected to claim more than 80 per cent of all web traffic by 2019, it is no surprise that small businesses are trying to seize this opportunity. Not only does video make up most of the content on the internet, but 90 per cent of customers report that product videos help them make purchase decisions. Video’s ability to increase customer retention holds great potential for conversions, with a reported 64 per centof customers more likely to buy a product online after watching a video about it.
Small businesses should aim to integrate video into their business strategy and create a narrative. It is quickly proving one of the most effective ways to create a brand, and intertwine a story that strategically places a business as a top of mind product for the end user.
Lachlan Heussler, Managing Director, Spotcap Australia and New Zealand