Which tech trends should small business owners check out to enhance their productivity in 2013? A cloud services provider, not surprisingly, puts the cloud near the top of its list of great tools for small business. But other technologies will drive efficiency too, predicts j2 Global. “Mobility, expansion of the cloud, and integration of business services are the three key trends that small and medium-sized businesses must be ready for in 2013,” the company offers. Here’s why:
1. Mobility: That the number of smart phones sold in 2011 exceeded the number of PCs sold suggests not just an increasingly mobile workforce, but that companies will learn to use mobile devices more effectively. “Smart phones and tablets will be leveraged more heavily as businesses move beyond using them just for simple communications,” j2 predicts. More sales teams will use mobile devices to input and access sales information on-the-go, and collaboration tools such as conference calling and web conferencing via mobile will enable faster and more strategic responses to real-time business needs. Beyond email and web browsing, mobile business apps can let off-site workers maximize productivity on the go and better manage and even co-mingle the dual demands of business and personal life, the cloud provider predicts.
2. Cloud: j2 acknowledges that small and medium-sized businesses have been slow to adopt the cloud, but optimistically predicts, “that will change as they leverage the lower cost of delivery and mobility afforded by cloud based technology.” j2 sees at least two of every three small and medium-sized businesses turning to the cloud in 2013 for more efficient approaches to anything from accounting to payroll to legal counsel. For small and micro businesses especially, the cloud, they say, offers lower barriers to entry for phone, fax, web, mail server, and data backup purchases.
3. Integrated Systems: Tools and systems that work collaboratively will replace disconnected systems, j2 predicts. Integrating email marketing with customer relationship management services and social media tools, for instance, “will allow sales and marketing organizations to easily execute campaigns and track the results, all within a single application” as well as drive faster sales cycles and more cost-effective customer acquisition, according to the cloud services company's forecast.
What about your small business? Is becoming more mobile, getting on the cloud, or integrating your systems and business applications on your list of New Year resolutions? Tell us in the comments.