Technology trends come and go but some are here to stay. Small business owners should expect to further embrace mobility, social media and cloud computing in the New Year, according to technology experts.
“We expect to see significant growth in cloud servers and cloud storage,” says Nick Pegley, vice president of All Covered IT Services from Konica Minolta. “The use of mobile devices is also growing significantly and helps in disasters too. If your desktop is in a damaged building, you can still use your smartphone or tablet to access data.”
In the wake of superstorm Sandy business owners are placing a greater emphasis on business continuity planning and Pegley expects more of that in 2013.
“More companies, even ones outside of the North East, are getting serious about protecting their company data from major external impacts,” says Pegley. “That includes backup strategies, procedures for dealing with office closures and communications plans for employees.”
Smartphone Popularity Continues
In the last couple of years smartphone sales have started to exceed PC sales, which demonstrates that people are using their mobile phones for more than making phone calls.
“Smartphones and tablets will be leveraged more heavily as businesses move beyond using them just for simple communications,” says Mike Pugh, vice president of marketing for j2 Global, a cloud services provider for small businesses. “Business systems, such as CRM, will go mobile enabling teams to input and access sales information on-the-go, driving higher levels of communication and productivity.”
Mobile apps will also become more prevalent for small businesses in the New Year, enabling them to be more connected, productive and use those moments of time that would be wasted if it weren’t for mobility, says Pugh.
Because the popularity of mobile devices and apps will continue to grow, small businesses will see more of a need to have a mobile-friendly Website. “Having a web presence is no longer enough,” says Jerry Nettuno, founder and CEO of Schedulicity, the online appointment scheduling service for small businesses. “Mobile users are increasingly using smartphones and tablets to research local businesses.”
Social Media ROI Will Be Examined
If 2012 was the year small businesses came to realization they had to embrace social media, 2013 will be the year they start focusing on a return on investment for their efforts, predicts Nettuno.
According to Nettuno, this year the small business conversation focused on getting the most for your investment will heat up.
“Small business owners will increasingly evaluate questions such as: Should I track website visitors or blog readers? Monitor analytics on Twitter or Facebook? Track comments, re-tweets or followers?,” said Nettuno. “Small businesses will focus on leveraging new tools, such as the new social media reports introduced by Google Analytics in 2012, to measure the value of their social media efforts.”
Cloud Adoption Explodes
For some time now small businesses have been hearing about all the virtues of taking their business into the cloud. In 2013 they will finally start listening. According to j2, in 2013 small businesses faced with increased competition and less than stellar economy will look to the cloud to save them money and boost their sales. Because of that experts predict there will be an explosion of cloud usage by small businesses.
“Cloud computing is coming of age,” says Pegley. “One of the advantages of cloud based storage is the ability to access company data even if the usual office environment is not available. It can be the difference between being able to carry on business and being closed for business.”