Himanshu Palsule, CTO and Head of Product Strategy for Sage North America, a business systems and services provider to over 3 million small and midsized businesses, cites the following SMB technology trends heading into 2013.
Adoption of employee-owned devices in the workplace will grow rapidly, impacting how business is transacted. By 2016 there will be 1.84 billion smart connected devices, more than double the 2011 figure [IDC]. Additionally, mobile users today outnumber PC users 4 to 1 [IDC] and 60% of information workers either using their own smartphone or an employer-provide device say their employer pays a portion of the cost [Forrester]. The use of devices for business will surge in 2013 as leisure smartphone and tablet consumption of entertainment apps yields ground to business apps that deliver real-time process improvements, increased and new revenue streams, and give businesses better ways to deliver products, services and support that produces exceptional customer experiences. Employee-owned devices will drive much of this momentum. Leaders for businesses of all sizes need to understand and strongly consider Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies and implement what is beneficial for operations and individual employee productivity. Think front- to back-office mobility – identify inventory, accounting, sales, payment transaction and support data vital to your business; most can be securely accessed on mobile devices.
· Customer experience will continue to evolve as a major differentiator between publishers. “Good word of mouth does have a positive impact — to the tune of $66 million per year in companies Forrester studied.” (Smartplanet’s Heather Clancy citing Forrester’s 2012 Business Impact Study). Identify how your service differentiates you from competitors and capitalize on it, and help your clients do the same. In a largely commoditized world, how easily you provide your product/service and the business systems you implement to support this workflow make all the difference. Behave like publishers – a big part of customers’ experience with your business is absorbing your industry-specific advice and product details on the social web so you’re top of mind when someone needs your product or service; spread these experience stories across the web to feed your sales funnel.
· Brick and Mortars will accelerate mobile adoption, understanding they must to succeed in ever-mobilizing consumer world. Mobile device spending is up to four times that of PC spending according to various studies. Outfit your mobile devices to accept secure mobile payments – with a mobile payments provider and dongle on your device employees can complete transactions right on their phones – like Apple Store employees do, for those familiar with their store purchasing experience. Ensure your web content renders optimally on smartphones and tablets of all sizes – modern tech standards such as HTML5 can help achieve this; likewise that your critical business systems can go mobile.