In 2014 we saw an even broader mix of connected devices entering the workplace, as well as a continued commitment from businesses of all sizes to harness the power of social media to engage with their customers. Towards the end of the year we also saw a range of new initiatives from the Government designed to support small businesses, from raising extra finance to working from home. We even saw the introduction of policies that made it easier to set-up or run a business from a rented property. So what are the experts predicting for 2015?
According to Computerworld research, thirty-eight per cent of IT executives will spend more money on enterprise analytics, data mining and business intelligence in 2015.
While talk of big data has been prevalent in 2014, the reality is that there’s no point collecting a wealth of information if you don’t have the skills, tools or time to convert it into useful insight for the business. What small businesses should actually focus on is small data that provides real value. Think carefully about what your business wants to achieve. Then think just as carefully about your existing data sets; what information do you collect and how can you use this information to help the business meet its aims. If you’re looking to keep your customers happy, minute attention to smaller, but more relevant data sets, is likely to deliver greater impact.
Market researcher GfK predicts that global smart phone sales are set to grow by 18 per cent in 2015.
Powerful mobile devices and high-speed 4G networks mean everyone has the opportunity to complete key business tasks from almost any location. Much attention is still focused on cost effective approaches, like bring your own device (BYOD), which allow workers to use their own phones for work purposes. But you will need the right kind of policy to ensure your mobile workers know how to stay safe and not put company information, stored on their own devices, at risk. Mobile data management can help by allowing workers to hook into secure systems from their portable devices. Either way, as technology continues to bring greater freedom to mobile workers, the benefits for small businesses, from greater flexibility to enhanced productivity, look set to grow. 2015 will be the year when technology will allow small businesses to truly go mobile.
More than 40% of IT executives will spend more on software-as-a-service and a mix of cloud technologies through 2015, reports Computerworld.
You’ve got limited time, budget and manpower – so why waste your resources when external partners offering cost-effective IT systems via the Cloud can take the strain for you? Unlike bigger firms, small businesses are often not encumbered by a legacy IT infrastructure and therefore have more freedom. You might have thought enterprise-quality apps, like those for sales, invoicing and HR, were beyond your budget. However, the cloud provides a cost-effective way for small businesses to buy a small number of licenses and to scale-up as the business grows. In addition, outsourcing key elements of your IT provision potentially frees up money and human resources for other essential operational tasks.
According to IDC, SMBs are expected to spend $590bn on technology next year, representing a 5.1 per cent year-on-year increase.
IDC predicts that investments in technology will cut across all areas and encompass some of the key areas of digital IT suggested above, including cloud and mobility. Small businesses looking to make the most of digital transformation should ensure their new IT integrates with their existing set up, particularly in regards to key infrastructural elements, like PCs, networks and printers. Canon research suggests almost half (48 per cent) of small businesses believe they are not using their printer to its full potential. With printers now offering a full range of scanning and cloud capabilities, small firms should focus on creating an integrated approach to IT that makes it is as easy as possible for employees to digitise their documents and help towards the transformation of key business operations. For advice on selecting a printer that delivers what you need for your small business, visit: http://www.canon.co.uk/small-business-printer-guide