20 November 2017

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Latest Technological Trends for SMEs

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Not long ago, at the turn of each century, you would often witness rapid changes; however, that has now reduced to a few months. During and at the end of each year there are innovations, and different trends introduced that surprise and aided SMEs in doing better business. It is challenging for anyone to predict the future technological innovations and advents accurately. However, SMEs must be on top of their game and ensure that they do not miss out on the technology innovation train or they will lose out on their probable profits.

With social media and the Internet, SMEs are getting up-close and personal with their customer base, but customers are getting savvy too and have first-hand information about what services and products are on offer, and all this is just a click away. According to Gartner’s newest estimate, “IT spends in 2017 will reach $3.5 T, increasing at a rate of 2.9 percent an estimated spend of $3.4 T in 2016.

Having said that, let us look at some of the latest technological trends that have changed the ways SMEs function.

Big Data: Big Data helps you gain an insight into the business data you collect allows you to take strategic decisions. Many SMEs are now looking at Big Data as more than just a fad or trend. And few of them have identified the utility of Big Data with regards to sales trends, and consumer behavior, using them to improve productivity and thereby enhancing profitability. With digitization and technological advances, you now have a powerful tool and system in place that scours huge volumes of information, correlates it and filters it for you in a matter of seconds.

Cloud Computing: Cloud computing is the storage of data virtually over the Internet instead of traditional storage devices like the hard disk or servers. While traditionally all your data including applications and programs were stored on local physical equipment, in Cloud computing, there is no physical device storing information for you.  Cloud Computing allows you to virtually store the data in a central location that is accessible from anywhere and on any smart appliance. You do not have to migrate your business to Cloud services entirely; you can transition slowly. Initially, you can test its effectiveness and utility with regards to your business and then take a decision based on your experience and that too at affordable costs.

Mobile Applications: These days from fitness routines to train schedules, everything is available on your mobile device via a simple mobile application. The way the customers access services and products through apps has completely transformed and changed the way businesses function today. Current reports state that the business mobility and BYOD market size is projected to grow to $73. 30 B by 2021 from $35.10 B in 2016. Business honchos and the staff alike expect more mobile-first solutions. More mobility helps both businesses and consumers become efficient. If the SMEs can capitalize on the popularity of these apps, they can increase their outreach and expand their avenues as far as client interaction and advertising are concerned.

Chatbots: Many enterprises have introduced live chat options on their websites. Live chat is the best choice to provide excellent customer service and after-sales support. A live chat option also gives the business an opportunity to resolve issues in real-time and thereby enhance customer satisfaction. While having a 24/7 human chat support is expensive for SMEs, they can always have chatbots or AI assistants that are trained to answer common issues and doubts.

Digitized Payments: This is certainly a welcome change for SMEs. A digital economy is taking precedence over a cash system, where expecting a cashless system that functions on digitized payments may no longer be a dream. Bitcoin has already proven that contactless payments and digital currency are the way to go. With the number of companies now offering several digital cash incentives, it makes sense to understand such payment options before you start using them.

Platform based infrastructure: Earlier most SMEs had only websites and were solely dependent on it for its functionality. Now, slowly most of the SMEs are relying on integrated platforms like Cloud services. The benefit of using these platforms is that SMEs can utilize technology and software solutions that are used by larger enterprises and at affordable costs. These platforms give SMEs a way to apply and adopt newer systems and diverse business models that weren’t available to them earlier. Doing so has further resulted into SMEs using innovative marketing strategies and enjoying enhanced productivity.

Video based: Videos now replace images, tweets, and posts. Options like Instagram and Facebook live to enable you to present your content without any data restrictions and that too free of cost. A live streaming platform more than a pre-recorded idea is a better marketing tool and strikes a personal dialog with the customers. HubSpot’s recent Consumer Behavior Survey verifies that “Almost 55 percent of the users confirm they watch the entire video, as compared to 29 percent users for blogs and 33 percent for collaborative articles. If you want your communication to be consumed, video tends to be the favored channel. The chances of buying a product are more when a person sees a video about it, where social media platforms like Facebook offer easy access, and almost everyone uses it.

Smart Delivery: With so many options and systems in place, the way retail markets will provide delivery services has changed. SMEs will need to concentrate on smarter shipping and delivery options using technology to aid their efforts.

Realistic Environment: A classic example is the Pokémon Go game that perfectly blends a virtual game with a real backdrop. SMEs can present ideas and products more realistically and thereby evolve a smart and innovative marketing model.

Though SMEs may be overwhelmed with the rapid technological advancement and introduction of newer business models every day, with proper research and guidance, the SME can use it to their advantage.

 
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