Technology is progressing at an almost supersonic rate – it is continually evolving, changing and transforming the way we live our lives. It has also had a tremendous impact on the world of business; companies are in a constant race to capitalise on this in a bid to stay ahead of the game.
To give you a taster of what lies ahead, we’ve gathered together some of the most exciting technological developments for 2016 – and the ways in which they could change the way you run your business forever.
In 2016, the friction of making payments is going to be reduced even further. With a litany of mobile payment solutions flooding the market, making payments is becoming as easy as sending a text.
Currently, only 17% of consumers pay for items using a smartphone most of the time, but this is set to change. The mobile payment industry is predicted to increase by billions of pounds in the coming years with the growing popularity of apps such as Apple Pay and PayPalApp, and forward-thinking businesses are already starting to adopt this new technology for the streamlining of future payments.
Security steps up
In their rush to embrace the latest technology, many businesses have so-far placed security as an afterthought. Many SME owners know shockingly little about digital security; emails are left unsecure, phone systems are not fully encrypted and employee mobile devices are left unprotected. Statistics have shown that an astounding 86% of websites have at least one serious vulnerability, often more.
One of the biggest technological trends of 2016 will be in filling these holes, and ensuring that systems are adequately protected.
In 2016, wearables are expected to reach a whole new level of popularity. Smartwatches will be introducing a range of features from health and communication to fitness, making every day more efficient and connected than ever.
Seeing the direction that wearables are going, many companies are beginning to consider ways in which wearables can be integrated into their business processes. Some companies are even beginning to give wearables to their employees in order to track their progress and see how they interact with each other.
As it stands, roughly 93% of businesses use the cloud for all or some of their business software. Due to its many benefits, it’s likely that more businesses will begin to adopt the storage system in 2016.
“Currently 68 percent of enterprises run less than a fifth of their application portfolios online, an unsustainably low figure given the necessity for connected systems and interaction with connected devices“
Increasingly sophisticated technological tools are now more affordable for small businesses than ever before, thanks to continuous innovation and competition. Cloud-based software solutions can enable even the smallest of start-ups to perform on a global stage like never before.
The power of Mobile
Businesses are going to need to start putting their mobile users first in 2016, as over half of all Google searches occurred on mobile devices in 2015. Applications that replace desktop-based activities are going to start being replaced, and internal systems are to become more mobile-friendly to increase connectedness.
Mobiles are not the only devices that are expected to become more prominent in the coming year. All other computers are starting to converge. There will be tablets that turn into laptops, smartphones that turn into monitors, among other things. Mobile operating systems are adapting and taking on a whole new definition. Apple, Google and Microsoft all want to make their mobile offerings more functional for both work and play, as a way of appealing to the mobile-first culture.
The rise of the virtual workforce
A 2015 survey predicted that 60 percent of office-based workers will regularly work from home by 2022. This trend has seen a rise in productivity apps and collaboration platforms which allow teams to leverage technology to maintain a fully-distributed team, no matter where each employee is.
For small business, this can dramatically increase the talent pool that you’re outsourcing to, and make the limitations of geography a thing of the past.
Any work that your business can have automated is more time (and money) you can spend on other things. Systems such as Buffer can allow you to build up a backlog of social media posts so you don’t have to interrupt your work flow by continually updating them throughout the day, or paying someone else to do it for you.
Automated marketing can also help to reduce the considerable fees of outsourcing to a marketing agency, and enables marketers or business owners to specify a goal and have the software handle the tasks involved, reducing the burden on the business owner.
Business intelligence tools such as Google Analytics can provide and leverage real-time date and analysis to drive a faster and more detailed understanding of business processes, and help business owners to make informed decisions based on facts.
New developments in this technology will integrate such tools and remove the need for separate BI tools for dashboards, analysis, and reports.
All businesses, from the largest to the smallest, will be able to make the most of the power of this software in 2016.
As these developments change the way businesses and clients interact, a better understanding of user experience is now essential to driving success. Companies need to ask some basic questions about the user’s wants and desires, and then do an honest review of how their own technology could better meet these needs. The more your business is able to get on board with the latest developments in technology trends such as these, the more competitive and future-friendly your SME will become.