What Small Businesses Really Want From Technology

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pic-1Small-business owners are presented with new technology all the time. From new devices to new applications and software and everything in between, there are constantly new developments in capabilities that promise to make their businesses more efficient, more competitive, and more successful. Technology developers know that their customers are always looking for a competitive edge, and do everything they can to give it to them.

However, small businesses typically have smaller budgets, and as much as they would like to, you cant always invest resources in the latest and greatest. And perhaps more importantly, when they do invest in technology, they want to be sure that it meets their needs. In other words, small businesses are looking for their technology to be more than trendy – they want it to be indispensable.

But what does that look like? What are small businesses actually looking for in their technology? To answer those questions, its useful to begin by looking at some of the major trends in small-business technology right now.

The Top 3 Small-Business Technology Trends

While there are undoubtedly more trends influencing small-business technology, the following three are among the most prevalent right now.

Cloud Computing. More than 90 percent of businesses use at least some form of cloud computing, and by the end of this year, more businesses are expected to be running even more of their applications on hosted solutions. Quite simply, the cloud is revolutionizing the way businesses operate, and will undoubtedly be the biggest influence the technological landscape for the foreseeable future.

The Internet of Things. From wearable devices that help provide employees with real-time data to Wi-Fi connected devices in the office that make it possible to do almost anything from making coffee to making copies from a single laptop computer, the IoT is revolutionizing the way we live and work. Not only do devices equipped with Wi-Fi and onboard PICs allow you to communicate with devices for greater efficiency, but they can also save businesses money thanks to their analytics and automation capabilities.

Embedded Communications. The days of having to actually pick up a phone and dial a number or open a separate app to make a call or initiate a chat are quickly coming to an end, thanks to embedded communication technology. Most of us are already familiar with this technology on our smartphones; when we find contact information online, with a simple tap of the link, you can initiate a call. This technology is expanding, though, making communication both from and with your business simpler and more efficient.

Small-Business Expectations

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Understanding the trends affecting small-business technology is only the beginning. As previously mentioned, small businesses generally aren’t quick to invest in a technology simply because it is trendy. They need it to fulfill their needs, and ultimately, have a positive effect on the bottom line. With that in mind, they have certain expectations:

  1. Technology will be easy to use. Many small businesses do not have dedicated IT departments, and among those that do, the staff is often small or stretched thin. In some cases, IT is managed by someone with limited experience or knowledge as well, making easy-to-use solutions a priority. Simplicity is always preferable to complexity when it comes to small business technology.
  2. Technology will be responsive and reliable. In other words, small businesses expect their technology to work. When you are short on time, you don’t want to deal with slowdowns, crashes, updates, and other issues that often plague new technology. If you can’t rely on technology to do what it needs to do, every time and correctly, then it will never become indispensable.
  3. Technology will be secure. Small-business owners are beginning to understand that they are under attack by hackers, and that they need to make security a priority. Any new technology that they adopt must be secure – and the business owner must be able to manage the security and know whats being done to keep the company’s information safe.
  4. Technology will be affordable. Last, but most certainly not least, small business needs technology that is affordable. Again, budgets are smaller, and technology must last longer, in this segment, so technology developers must do everything they can to ensure that new technology is affordable, both in terms of initial purchase and the overall cost of ownership in the long term.

Small businesses are generally eager to adopt new technology, but have to balance that desire to stay on the cutting edge with the realities of their business. By matching their expectations to the trends, technology developers can better meet the needs of small-business customers, and grow their own businesses in the process.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.