As small business owners, you may not be at the forefront of developing IT like enterprise-level businesses 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 on the rise.
While new infrastructure continues to gain traction throughout businesses across the country, other trends such as software unification, personalized marketing, and cybersecurity will impact small to medium-sized companies.
Small Business Technology Trends in 2021
This article will list the top 8 tech-related changes for small businesses in 2021.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have been hot topics for quite some time. As technology solves more solutions, small business owners will continue incorporating them into new and existing processes this year. This means many implementation scenarios, from personalized customer experiences to voice assistants. AI will help small businesses offer more personalized customer experiences by maximizing time and automating all manual tasks.
Using tech solutions integrated with artificial intelligence can help 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 are massive assets, especially since lack of time is often a considerable challenge.
Proliferation of 5G
The adoption of 5G technology began in 2019. This tech is the fifth generation of cellular capability, which shows faster data transmission speeds than the supported 4G. This advancement is a great leap toward developing the internet of things (IoT), considering 5G networks are more capable of supporting the increased number 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. For example, small business owners needed software to keep track of their employees, especially in remote offices. Much of the focus on HR tech is from the increase in remote work, although this technology is sure to transcend beyond this time period. The shift to working from home has changed business culture, engagement, productivity, two-way communication, and employee development. It’s also increased the need for effective IT to help navigate IT challenges. With that in mind, centralized HR information systems are now mission-critical. Small businesses rely on old HR systems’ Excel charts to manage employees, but teams expect and deserve more. An example of benefiting small businesses is adding centralized systems for a more coherent workflow.
Businesses have used mobile tech, scheduling, and online shopping to create 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 an easy, convenient system to avoid long checkout lines to shoppers in crowded areas. Still, now they’re a baseline rule for retailers. Shopping and checking out with QR codes and using mobile terminals have become a daily occurrence in most retail stores. Many retailers are revamping in-store experiences to make them reflective of our current society.
The pandemic brought a new normal of social distancing, remote work, and virtual business meetings. Company management, recruitment, and onboarding have started to shift, and companies must adapt by improving their onboarding programs for new employees. Some new hires have only experienced little in-person interaction with managers/colleagues in the office, while others only know their coworkers through digital platforms.
People are bound to seek remote work as populations shrink in urban areas. And as businesses continue to embrace this new model, they’ll have to rely on tech to handle remote onboarding practices. Onboarding is essential in hiring new employees to get them used to their responsibilities and company culture. Without the ability for businesses to connect in person, companies will continue to use the software. Technology assuring every step of the onboarding process is orchestrated professionally will help companies ensure 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 to improve your small business.
The modern workplace has called for developing new and improved tech solutions. Companies across the board use Slack, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Salesforce, Basecamp, Google Drive, and so much more. Connecting software to work alongside other software is tricky, as there will be a breakthrough with integration platforms that’ll allow all software to interconnect. The connection will enable multiple platforms to link, aiding in seamless communication and saving businesses time.
Focus on Cybersecurity
Small businesses have increasingly become the target of 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 business owners should start seriously looking into it. Automation investments are expected to continue to increase with continued shortages of workers. 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 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 a free IT Consultation.