7 Essential Technologies for SMBs in 2017

The world is moving at an ever-increasing pace. In fact, the world of technology has been doubling in power since 1965. This is primarily due to the amount and density of processing power that we can fit into a computer.

Embracing technological trends is likely to give you an edge in the future marketplace as your business gains agility, adaptability, and the opportunity to save you both time and money. The Boston Consulting Group published a study documenting the relationship between businesses and integration of new technologies. They found that businesses that integrated the cutting edge technology with their business doubled the amount of jobs and increased revenues by at least 15%. In this article, we will dive into the technology you should consider implementing into your business model in 2017.

1. The New Way to Work: Telecommuting

Along with the vast amount of resources presented by new technologies, it is important to be cognizant of the desires of the most valuable job seekers on the market.

Without looking too far, one can see the trend in millennial works to lean towards remote job opportunities. Although this route of business might seem anti-productive and unreasonable for the majority of marketplaces, there are many arguments praising the productivity that is spawned from allowing a remote business operation.

It is important to realize that business is becoming more abstract by the year. With software like email, business group applications, and the cloud, many businesses reap the benefits of improved productivity and diminished costs pertaining to renting a property for a workplace. Integrating a remote option into your business model will look great to job seekers and lower your overhead expenses.

2. Migrating to the Cloud

Owning and operating your own database gives you the flexibility of owning and modifying your information in any way you see fit. However, this flexibility can come with higher maintenance fees, utility bills, etc. Furthermore, you must maintain an IT infrastructure that requires the training and retraining of staff on certain applications and technologies.

Fortunately, the cloud is positioning itself to fix the costs of maintaining your own server. Building off of the idea of telecommuting, integrating a cloud server into your business will improve the ability to effectively communicate among your entire remote workforce. With apps made for product development, product management, synced calendars, and shared workspaces, your employees can work directly over the cloud to produce a plethora of new software, products, and services.

A large problem in the cloud community has been the overall lack of resources and expertize of SMBs to truly utilize the cloud in a great way. Fortunately, the majority of these problems should be fixed by releases in 2017.

3. Let Your Machines Learn for You

Machine learning creates an endless amount of opportunity for businesses and individuals. However, it is important to understand what machine learning and artificial intelligence are, in an effort to see how they can affect your business.

Machine learning is teaching a computer how to think based on certain variables. In essence, you are training a computer to make a decision based on what you want it to consider. Due to the increasing speed of computers, this will give computers the ability to discern the difference between good and bad — anything. You can have your machines look at the stock market, weather patterns, business trends, or even music and have it decide what stock to go with, if it will be hot tomorrow, what words are buzzing in the world of business, and who most resembles the music piece you give the computer.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning became hot technologies in 2016, with both Google and Microsoft adding all kinds of AI services to their clouds. In 2017, we are expecting to see technological advances that give computers the leeway to change their behavior based on numerous variables. Therefore, business intelligence and trendspotting can be done passively, allowing you to focus on your business.

4. Mobile Technologies are the Future

Mobile commerce is dominating business. In fact, as mobile power increases, more people are utilizing their phones and tablets as a primary shopping tool. Based on this alone, having a mobile-friendly and fast website is a must in 2017. Also consider developing mobile apps, creating mobile payment methods, and investing in mobile ads.

Furthermore, as your employees also begin to use their personal mobile phones for business purposes, you must ensure that your bring-your-own-device (BYOD) security policy is maintained to the highest degree to keep important customer and business data safe from threats.

5. Focusing on Cyber Security

With the increasing power of technology comes the increasing supply of malware and security threats. Last year, the Ponemon Institute published a security report that showed that more than one-half of all SMEs were attacked within the preceding twelve months. Microsoft has stated that there is an average of 229 days between when the virus is implemented and when the user notices it. This is a huge implication for the state of business in 2017.

Integrating the correct level of cyber security is a must for you, your employees and customers. If your customers’ information is not safe, they will no longer trust you with your business. Not only that, but other bigger companies are also evaluating the security levels and policies of their contractors when looking into a possible future cooperation.

6. Virtual Reality Becomes Reality

Virtual reality has been a massive buzzword in 2016 (just think of Microsoft’s HoloLens and Facebook’s Oculus Rift). In 2017, virtual reality products will become a reality. Although the technology to utilize VR in your business is limited, it is important to keep an eye out for the fast-developing field to ensure you are not left behind in the future of business. No matter what industry you are in, VR will affect it sooner than you think.

7. eCommerce and the Future of Business

As stated above, the mobile platform is vital for any business. With that being said, eCommerce is just as, if not, more vital to your business. With the increasing reliance on web applications and sites to complete our daily tasks, many people have computers and simply do not want to leave their home to buy services and products. This trend will continue in 2017, but with some changes like the fully integrated and easy-to-use payment options such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and even PayPal checkout options.

Furthermore, we can expect to see a greater integration between the online and offline world, with online brands like Amazon offering physical products, and offline stores like Walmart having more digital features.

In this fast-paced environment, understanding the future will be the difference between success and failure. Ensure that you succeed. It is crucial that you pay attention to trends and implement technologies that will best benefit your business. Do your research and budgeting, and consider integrating these technology solutions into your business. I would also suggest consulting with someone in your industry to make sure your investment doesn’t go to waste.

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