Technology has been one of the biggest game changers for SMEs in the past five years. The adoption of cloud computing has enabled SMEs to access software and platforms that were previously only available to much larger organisations. The playing field has levelled out considerably.
However, the rapid advancement in technology can make it difficult for SMEs to keep up. There always seems to be a new tool or trend they need to implement, which can place even more pressure on already stretched budgets and finite resources.
To help you work out what technologies you should be considering if you’re planning for growth in 2017, here are some of 2016’s top tech trends for SMEs.
Many small businesses are looking to automation technology to help them to cut costs and streamline existing process. In the 2016 SME Directions Survey, 66% of small businesses said they are planning to use automation more before the next financial year in order to cut costs, so it looks like this trend will continue.
More SMEs are investing in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology. While they’re not new, they’re more affordable and faster to implement these days. SMEs are realising that in addition to helping manage historical customer data and interactions, they also give you insights into customer and sales trends to help refine the approach to delivering a superior customer experience.
According to research from SMB Group, 85% of small businesses now see mobile apps as complementing traditional business systems. In addition, 70% believe that mobile apps will even replace some of their current business applications. This trend is supported by the rise in the use of cloud and the demand for mobility and flexibility of workers by SMEs.
Cloud-based business software
The cost of cloud technology has become much more accessible for SMEs and within two years the number of SMEs using cloud is predicted to rise from 50% to 75%. Aside from cost, there are many other benefits which are driving the uptake of cloud, including security, maintenance, gaining access to the latest technology advances and remote flexibility. Cloud accounting, CRM and ERP software, plus solutions like Office 365 are all proving popular with SMEs.
Communication and collaboration tools/apps
Traditionally popular with larger organisations, more SMEs are using tools like Slack and Trello to communicate and manage team projects. The driving force behind this trend is the increasing level of collaboration between employees, customers and partners, even when work is being done outside of the office.
Business intelligence dashboards
SMEs are getting savvier in how they obtain information and analytics on how their business is operating. Dashboards are proving to be increasingly popular, as they offer a consolidated, visual display of a company’s most important data and highlight actionable insights, in real-time. For example, you can see your bank balances, sales, upcoming bills, stock-on-hand, profitability, and get a handle on your key performance indicators (KPIs) all on the one screen.
About the author
Stephen Canning is the CEO of JCurve Solutions. The cloud-based ERP provider is one of the largest ANZ solution providers of NetSuite.