Cloud computing, the consumerization of mobile gadgets and mobile security will be among the top technology trends small businesses should prepare for in 2012.
While these trends impact businesses of all sizes, small businesses, with fewer employees and limited resources, stand to benefit the most from things like cloud computing.
While cloud usage gained steam in 2011, it “will probably be the year you stopped looking at buying you own equipment and started looking at a service provider to provide it to you,” says Rob Enderle founder of The Enderle Group, a technology consulting firm. “There will be a lot more cloud services being offered.”
Whether it’s from industry leaders like EMC or start ups looking to take a piece of the market, small businesses will see a lot more cloud applications offering everything from desktop applications to enterprise-type software like customer relationship management or database programs. According to Enderle, cloud services will increasingly enable small businesses to look like large companies while remaining profitable.
Oracle (ORCL), IBM (IBM), SAP (SAP) and Microsoft (MSFT) all have major initiatives to deliver a broader range of cloud services over the next few years, which will only serve to benefit small businesses, noted market research firm Gartner.
Consumerization of IT
People love their smartphones and tablets, and while they were already popular in the workforce, 2012 will see more employees bringing these gadgets to the office, according to Enderle.
“Users will want to bring their own devices to work,” says Enderle. “There will be more iPads in the office.” While bringing in their own gadgets can be empowering to employees, it poses challenges for small business owners that have to make sure these devices are safe and secure. Enderle suggests small business owners seriously consider implementing protocol on how and when personal devices are used to protect the security of the business. He adds fighting personal technology in the workplace will be futile. “There’s a huge amount of effort to put this technology in the hands of the users.”
On top of the headache of keeping all the devices secure, Gartner predicts that no one gadget will dominate, which means companies will have to manage an array of devices. Gartner says businesses will need standards and rules of conduct when it comes to technology in the workplace.
Security Concerns Spread to Mobile
The threat of hackers and data loss could get even worse for small businesses in the new year.
“The mid-market tends to be the least protected,” says Enderle. Not to mention that with employees using their smartphones at work, it puts businesses in an even more vulnerable position.
“The fastest and most exposed platform has been the Android,” says Enderle, noting security concerns are growing in the tablet market as well. “It’s the trend of more people trying to steal stuff” in 2012, he adds.