As small business owners, you may not be at the forefront of developing IT like enterprise-level businesses typically are. With that said, tech still plays a vital role in the efficiency and growth of your business. Given the changes that have taken place in the last couple of years, small business technology trends are continually on the rise.
While new infrastructure will continue to gain traction throughout businesses across the country, other trends – such as software unification, personalized marketing, and cybersecurity – will directly impact small to medium-sized companies.
Small Business Technology Trends in 2021
Throughout this article, we will list the top eight tech-related changes for small businesses in 2021.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have been hot topics for quite some time. As these technologies are implemented into various solutions, small business owners will continue to incorporate them into new and existing processes this year. This could mean a wide range of implementation scenarios, from personalized customer experiences to voice assistants. AI will help small businesses offer much more personalized customer experiences by maximizing time and automating all manual tasks.
Using tech solutions integrated with artificial intelligence can help save businesses of all sizes save time, especially small to medium-sized businesses. If you’re spending most of your day performing manual tasks, AI and automation proves to be a massive asset, especially since lack of time is often a considerable challenge.
Proliferation of 5G
The adoption of 5G technology began in 2019. This type of tech is the fifth generation of cellular capability, which shows significantly faster data transmission speeds than the widely supported 4G. This advancement is a massive step toward developing the internet of things (IoT), considering 5G networks are much more capable of supporting the influx of interconnected smart devices. While there’s a ton of hype surrounding 5G, it’s still in its early stages and will continue to develop with time.
Comprehensive HR Technology
The pandemic increased the need for comprehensive human resource software considering small business owners needed to keep track of their employees. Much of the focus on HR tech stems from the increase in remote work, although this technology is sure to transcend even beyond this time period. The shift to working from home has changed businesses in terms of culture, engagement, productivity, two-way communication, and employee development, has increased the need for effective IT to help navigate prevalent challenges. With that in mind, centralized HR information systems are now mission-critical. Small businesses tend to rely on Excel charts of antiquated HR systems to manage employees, but teams expect and deserve more, where centralized systems have come into play.
Businesses have increasingly utilized mobile tech, scheduling, and online shopping to create more contactless shopping experiences. This high-tech approach to keeping society safe has spread far beyond curbside pickup, becoming a natural extension of existing tech like terminals and mobile payments.
Mobile payments used to be a nice-to-have system that brought convenience to avoid lengthy checkout lines to shoppers in crowded areas. Still, now they’re practically a baseline requirement for retailers. Shopping and checking out with QR codes, along with the utilization of mobile terminals, have become a daily occurrence in most retail stores. Many retailers are overhauling in-store experiences to make them reflective of our current reality.
The pandemic ushered in a new normal of social distancing, remote work, and business meetings run by video conferencing platforms. As the nature of company management, recruitment, and onboarding has shifted, companies have been forced to adapt to the times by developing new onboarding programs for incoming employees. Some new hires have only experienced minimal in-person interaction with managers/colleagues in the office, while others have only met their coworkers through digital platforms.
As populations shrink in urban areas, people will increasingly seek remote work. As businesses continue to embrace this new model, they’ll have to rely on tech to handle remote onboarding practices. Onboarding is an essential part of hiring new employees and getting them acclimated to their responsibilities and company culture. Without the ability for businesses to connect in person, companies will continue to use the software. Technology that assures every step of the onboarding process is orchestrated professionally will help companies make sure their new team feels welcome. So, what can you do to ensure that your remote employee onboarding program is successful? Discover the top employee onboarding best practices here.
The modern workplace has called for the development of new and improved tech solutions. Companies across the board are using Slack, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Salesforce, Basecamp, Google Drive, and so much more. Connecting software to work alongside other software is quite tricky, as there’s going to be a breakthrough with integration platforms that’ll allow all software to interconnect. The connection will finally enable multiple platforms to link, aiding in seamless communication and saving businesses a ton of time.
Focus on Cybersecurity
Small businesses have increasingly become the target for cyberattacks and data breaches, and it’s time they start fighting back. That’s why small to medium-sized businesses need to view cybersecurity through the lens of enterprise businesses. By locking down on a comprehensive data backup and recovery plan and forming new standardized blocking procedures, small businesses can prepare themselves for the worst.
Greater Emphasis on Automation
Automation has been a buzzword throughout businesses of all sizes for quite some time, but 2021 is the year that business owners should most definitely start seriously looking into it. With continued shortages of workers, automation investments are expected to continue to increase. Examples of automation include inventory management systems and online pricing automation. By leveraging technology through automation, numerous companies could use the cloud to help ensure that the push for automation heats up.
Our Final Thoughts
With so many small to medium-sized businesses not fully embracing the digital age, one might expect to find a range of barriers that are difficult to overcome, such as a lack of technical skills, inadequate broadband, or substantial financial barriers to investing in IT. With that said, if you’re interested in learning more about how you can better optimize your business operations, our team is happy to offer insight and guidance into your technology. As a full-service outsourced IT department, we provide a technology blueprint to help businesses get where they want to be. We design our services to scale with your business as it grows. We act as an extension of your business as your complete IT partner, providing our services with your best interests in mind. Learn more about how we can help you today by seeing if you qualify for an IT Consultation.