When it comes to owning and running a small or medium-sized business, it often pays to keep an eye on emerging trends. While some are inexpensive, like a simple application on a smartphone or a tablet, others may be a bit more pricey, such as a the next big computer system. However these impact a business owner's wallet, it's important to know why paying attention to trends could pay off big in the end.
Staying ahead of the curve could mean the difference between expanding the client base via word of mouth from preexisting customers or watching numbers stay stagnant for another fiscal quarter in a row. But a savvy businessperson will know that not every trend is worth pursuing, but it is smart to investigate what the tech experts are expecting to be big hits for the following year.
Catching on to trends before they take off not only proves that a business owner is on the cutting edge of technology, but he or she will likely save a good deal of money on it because popular items tend to be more expensive when they are sought after more intensely.
So, let's take a look at the trends for 2015 and see how they've fared over the past seven months.
1. The cloud
The cloud is hardly an emerging trend, as cloud services have been around and popular for a while now, but it is certainly continuing to gain popularity in both the small and medium-sized business world and at the enterprise level as well. According to CustomerThink, just over half (56 percent) of small and medium-sized businesses were virtualizing their setups with the cloud in 2013, but the following year saw a rise up to over two-thirds of businesses (67.5 percent). Not only are those numbers very encouraging but it's clear that adoption will continue to rise as more companies see the success rate and realize the flexibility and freedom that the cloud provides.
Programs that have been inspired by cloud services are also on the rise from previous years, reported the source. Different "as-a-Service" models are gaining quite a positive reputation and adoption rate as well. Software-as-a-Service as risen to Nearly seven in 10 small and medium-sized businesses are choosing to utilize the Software-as-a-Service (69.7 percent) while adoption of the relatively new Infrastructure-as-a-Service model has risen to nearly one-quarter (24.5 percent) with expected gains in the years to come.
Why is the cloud so great? What people really love about cloud computing is that it's very flexible and data is easily backed up. Also, it leaves room for potential growth. No company is locked into a single amount of storage which will end up being too small when business starts to boom. Not only is scalability handy for any technology that's related to a business, but it's especially helpful when it comes to data storage.
2. Data privacy services
Data hacks and security breaches have certainly been on the forefront of people's minds and the sting of various and widely publicized data breaches have yet to fade. That means that companies, no matter their size, are going to need to have a good system in place to mitigate consumer fears. In a blog post early this year, the Harvard Business Review reported that a business would not only need to have a service in place that protects against unauthorized parties, but the organization itself needs to prove to its client base that it is making distinct strides to protect the data at hand.
There are many steps a business could take to safeguard sensitive information, though some will make more sense for one given organization than another. A database administration service might be just the thing to make customers feel secure in their purchases at a business. These services can be remote, which is not only convenient but sometimes cheaper, too. Many times, DBA services will have 24-hour support, a fact that leaves people with the peace of mind that their information is safe no matter what time it is. Check out this video on the importance of data protection.
If a database administration service isn't a right fit, then a simple data backup solution could be the ticket. Cloud services are ideal, as they offer the same flexibility as cloud computing services, but they also make it much easier to come back from a disaster such as a fire or flood. Recovering data has never been so easy and combating a hacker when he or she attempts to steal customer information should be item No. 1 on every business owner's to-do list.
3. Deeper integration of mobile devices
When the Apple Watch was released this past April, it changed the way that many people saw mobile. While these days it seems that many individuals are glued to their phones as opposed to interacting with the world around them, business owners should take heed and see this as a sign of the coming times. Gartner predicted in its tech trends list for 2015 that wearables and other mobile devices will continue to gain prominence for companies of many sizes.
"Wearables will continue to gain prominence in 2015."
Mobile devices already play a key role in the world of business - many people keep tabs on stores and restaurants with their devices and will scan a QR code on a poster out at the bus stop if the sign looks interesting. While it might not be the most prudent business decision to optimize a store or office for wearable and other mobile technology, it is something that entrepreneurs should be thinking about.
Could a business use an app? Does it make sense to invest in platforms for Google Wallet and Apple Pay? With the popularity of these services, these questions are definitely something to consider as the company looks forward for new options to offer to consumers.
The worlds of business and technology both move pretty quickly. Choosing to not adopt a service or gadget may be a split-second decision that could impact a company heavily or not at all. After all, trends may not turn out to be the "next big thing," but no one wants to miss out on something that could be.