At the beginning of every year, major consulting firms and IT media outlets start predicting the tech trends that they think will be most influential. This provides a good time to take stock of your existing systems and plan your IT strategy for the next twelve months.
But, much of this analysis is aimed at an enterprise audience. What about small and midsized businesses? Without a huge IT budget or staff, SMBs must be very discerning with their technology spend. To help our friends and clients plan wisely, we’ve chosen a few of the trends we think are likely to have a positive effect on SMBs in 2021.
Cloud Solutions Will Evolve to Provide Greater Value
According to TechAisle, cloud products and services are already the number one IT priority for SMBs. One area that we think will be of particular value is the continued development of hybrid cloud and multi-cloud technology. Not familiar with what those two terms mean? Allow us to summarize.
A model in which public cloud applications interwork with on-premises systems, providing many of the benefits of cloud computing while empowering businesses to retain total control over their critical IT systems. With increased support from leading cloud providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), and continued refinement to the relevant security systems, hybrid cloud is likely going to become even easier for SMBs that want to make a commitment to cloud technology.
A newer concept, multi-cloud solutions allow businesses to flexibly run common workloads across multiple public clouds. The benefit of multi-cloud is that it can help businesses avoid vendor lock-in, a situation where a company’s data gets trapped on a single proprietary cloud service. It can also help avoid single points of failure (SPOF), providing a higher level of reliability for companies in industries like finance and healthcare where maximum uptime is an absolute must.
Both options will appeal to small and medium business who value the flexibility of cloud computing but want to keep a close watch on on-premises data. As both these solutions become more standardized, we except that their flexibility, cost, and efficiency will entice even the most non-technical of businesses to finally make a confident move toward cloud computing.
Cloud backup solutions have grown in popularity over the years, and are set to reach a new level of adoption in 2021, driven in large part by improvements to the technology. As vendors better address security and privacy concerns around storing data in the cloud, businesses can be more confident about using the cloud to reduce the cost and administrative burden of keeping backup systems on-premise.
The development of cloud backup technology gives SMBs a range of features and benefits that aren’t available with on-premise backups, such as 24/7 monitoring, management and reporting. Additionally, these backup services can help you store data that normal enterprise backup solutions wouldn’t protect, like data on laptops and mobile devices. There are several different cloud-based solutions to choose from, including the following:
This method involves manually moving files to a public cloud service such as Microsoft Azure or Google Drive. While it’s the easiest and cheapest, it provides the least in terms of extra functionality or features.
Cloud backup services automatically copy your files to a managed data center. There’s a lot of competition to be the premiere cloud backup service, meaning you should take your time to pick a vendor who has the features and functionality to meet your needs.
With the proliferation of software as a service (SaaS) applications, businesses need a way to back up application data from one cloud application to another cloud, and this is called “cloud-to-cloud backup.”
To determine which solution — or combination of solutions — is best for your business, your cloud backup deployment should always start with a careful analysis of your business and its requirements. Factors to consider during this process include, the volume of data that requires backing up, connectivity between your site and the cloud service, and compliance concerns.
Driven in part by developments in the other technologies we’ve just mentioned like cloud computing, SMBs will likely embrace artificial intelligence technology with greater ease and enthusiasm in 2019, enabling a better experience for both clients and employees. What can AI and Analytics do for SMBs?
AI has many uses in marketing, such as sales forecasting, real-time conversations with customers, and hyper-personalization. Personalization of marketing campaigns can be a very powerful tool, which has made it a top priority for marketers. A survey by research firm Ascend2 found that while only 9% of marketers currently have a plan for hyper-personalization, 47% are talking about implementing one.
Growing or renewing an existing customer is between five to twenty-five times cheaper than acquiring a new one. Analytics tools like Microsoft’s Power BI or Tableau can help you understand which customers are likely to return and which are just one-timers, while also helping you better understand customer behavior and buying patterns so you can better keep customers instead of chasing new one.
Many SMBs are plagued by repetitive back-office tasks. Take for example accounting, where processing invoices, data entry, and reviewing financial data can take hours of an accountant’s time. Almost three-quarters of accountants agree that AI can help free them from mundane work and allow them to play a more strategic, advisory role in their job.
Technology is becoming more than just a tool for business productivity, it’s now central to the fabric of business itself. In the words of the Deloitte Tech Trends report, “every company is now a tech company, and every employee is a technologist.”
Is your business eager to make the most of the latest technologies, but doesn’t know where to start? The team at Complete Network have a firm grasp on cloud computing, artificial intelligence, analytics, and other emerging technologies, and can customize them to meet the precise needs of your company.
Note: This article was originally published in 2019 then updated in 2021.
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