The key small business trends for 2017

Streamlining processes and cutting costs will likely continue to be the watchwords for small business trends in 2017. Taking advantage of modern business intelligence technology, and investing in a personalised, efficient solution is essential for SMEs to remain competitive in the year ahead.

We have identified the key trends for SMEs to be aware of in 2017:

1. Millennials

Craving mobility, technology and fast results, millennials, defined as those aged in their 30s and below, now comprise the largest group of the workforce. To keep millennials engaged in the workplace, businesses must adopt technologies that help match the flexible working conditions that millennials demand.

Millennials are actively seeking a mobile work-life balance, which may include working remotely. They expect technology to assist collaboration and productivity, meaning geographic distance is a non-issue.

The use of mobile expense management systems can save businesses time on administrative processes and also help reimburse employees faster, especially if they work offsite. Employees simply snap a photo of their receipt and submit it to a system that processes the expense claim and automatically authorises reimbursement.

2. eCommerce

Last year, online retail sales in Australia surpassed $20 billion.* Consumers’ desire for the ease and convenience of online shopping makes today an ideal time to develop an online presence. Technology can offer small businesses greater control over brand development, customer engagement and marketing. With 97 per cent of Internet users conducting research prior to purchasing products and services, keeping a representative web and mobile experience as well as investing in the development of quality content is essential for businesses in order to build relationships with their target audiences.**

3. Business intelligence (BI)

SMEs will increasingly take advantage of big data solutions, traditionally used by larger companies, in 2017. BI software collects fragmented sets of data and converts them to tangible information, which lets businesses make informed decisions.

The use of automated expense management software enables businesses to see the status of employee expenses in real time. As organisations amass greater amounts of data, business owners are able to implement data-driven solutions in an effort to improve business efficiencies.

* Business Insider – http://www.businessinsider.com.au/australian-shoppers-spent-nearly-21-billion-online-in-the-past-year-heres-where-and-what-theyre-buying-2016-11 (from September 2015-2016)

** The Independent We Stand (IWS) campaign – http://www.cnbc.com/2015/11/24/how-to-tap-into-the-14b-small-business-saturday-action.html

Matt Goss, ANZ Managing Director, Concur

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