As small businesses across the country consider a return to the office, perhaps after Labor Day or, with the recent rise in infections, maybe January 2022, one of the most obvious lessons of the pandemic is the need to keep remote work capability. The pandemic changed the way we view work and whether you favor working from home or can’t wait to get back to the office, it still is important that every small business prepare for this new world order. Despite the pandemic, small businesses continue to run in a high tech, global economy that is more competitive than any ever before. There are some major tech trends that will reshape the small business landscape. Roark Tech Services compiled the essential technology every small business must keep, with a focus on cost-savings, efficiency and effectiveness, recognizing small businesses owners may not stay at the forefront of developing technology, but still depend on it to survive and grow. Given how much things changed this past year, these small business tech trends are sure to influence competitive advantage in 2022.
Remote Work Capability Before the pandemic, remote work capability was an essential part of every Business Continuity Plan. The pandemic gave new meaning to what Business Continuity means and while no one ever envisioned working remotely for over a year, remote access was always a recommended tool in the toolbox. Today, it is now an essential requirement to not only allow employees to work remotely but keep access to everything they have in the office, including data, applications, phone, team members, voicemail and security.
One of the benefits of a well-structured remote access solution is the ability to attract talent well beyond the geographical area of the business. This means more competition for a position, allowing opportunity to select the best candidate. Of course, every business is different, and each has different requirements for remote work, but one thing is for sure, a remote access solution is now a fixed part of the fabric of work and will remain so for years to come.
Access from anywhere is no longer a “nice to have”, it’s a requirement to remain competitive and service clients. A trend that started years ago – and isn’t going anywhere -- is the mass migration to the cloud. Following the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, as many as 51% of business leaders said how this shift saved them from collapse during COVID-19.
In today’s digital world, embracing this trend brings countless benefits to a small business, with its ability to help collaborate, analyze data, and run the business more efficiently and effectively – all via the internet! Best of all, with less hardware and convenient software subscription models, a small business only pays for the services it needs, but never surrenders the ability to scale operations as the business grows.
Cloud storage is generally more affordable because providers distribute the costs of their infrastructure and services across many businesses. Adopting the cloud removes the need to keep physical servers in your environment and that includes the single-point-of-failure. For a small business, the cloud is an ideal solution.
Voice Over IP (VoIP)
VoIP phone systems are another trend that is working very well for small business. VoIP supplies essential [small business] features and is still cost efficient. Some of these features include:
Excellent Call Quality
Multi-Functionality, such as instant messaging, presence information, teleconferencing, video conferencing and receiving voicemail all from a mobile phone.
Security: Compared to the traditional analog telephone connection, VoIP is much more secure. All the leading providers have standardized encryption protocols, making calls and data secure
Portability: As long there is internet access, VoIP phones work anywhere. VoIP allows a small business to make and receive calls from multiple devices, including a smartphone, ensuring availability to clients or colleagues wherever they are the world.
In the modern workplace, more technology solutions are used for communication and collaboration and new apps are changing the way people work. A collaboration app is any piece of software that helps people get work done together. Team members are alerted to activity on work that pertains to them. They ensure that the right people have access to the assets and information they need. Collaboration apps are a subcategory of productivity apps. They are intended to enable teamwork, including remote teamwork. With so many still working remotely, unable to directly communicate with—or interrupt—coworkers in person, these apps help fill the gap. Microsoft Teams, Slack and Zoom all are examples of Collaboration Apps. There is an entire library of them that are useful toward connecting staff, sharing files in real-time, managing customers, planning projects and keep the books.
Build & Maintain Your Website
According to KPMG 47% of consumers search for a company’s website before deciding to take further action or make a purchase. If a small business does not have a well-designed, content rich and user-friendly website (or for that matter, any website) it is missing a chance to present their products and services in response to a potential customer’s need. A website is an opportunity to highlight company strengths and communicate to potential customers what is offered, the product/service advantage and what stands out among the competition. With the average web surfer spending less than 45 seconds on a page, there isn't much time to make a good impression. Make the message count!
Focus on Cybersecurity Nearly 60% of small businesses think it's unlikely they will become a target of a cyberattack. The reality, however, is many small businesses are indeed affected by cyberattacks and data breaches. If cybersecurity isn’t a priority for a small business today, they stay at a significant disadvantage to their competition.
As more reports appear in the news about ransomware attacks and data breaches, potential customers are asking questions about cyber-fitness. This trend is only going to continue and grow.
Make certain the cybersecurity essentials are in place.
The pandemic permanently altered the trajectory of businesses and how we all think about workplace safety. The technology trends of 2021 present solutions to mitigate the downside effects of working separately. Today’s technology and what is expected next year will allow greater options to small businesses that contribute to efficiency and cost savings. Small businesses must continue to plan for and adopt the technology trends that will keep them competitive, profitable and relevant in their field.