February 1st, 2017
Digital technology has become increasingly important to small businesses over the last few years, revolutionising many working methods. With new apps and high-tech inventions regularly being launched, the big question is which areas of innovation should small businesses look out for during 2017?
As a leading provider of managed offices for rental, Basepoint closely monitors trends affecting SMEs in the UK and is always looking out for ways of helping businesses to grow and succeed. Here is a look at some of the digital trends tipped to make a difference to business over the coming year.
Cloud Storage – This has become increasingly important over the last few years, and looks set to be embraced by even more businesses during 2017. One recent research study estimated that around 85% of small companies in the UK now use a cloud storage provider, meaning vital information will not be lost if computer hardware fails. Keeping data stored in the cloud has clear advantages, such as enabling colleagues in different locations to collaborate on a project much more easily. With the technology developing further and allowing more flexibility, companies are likely to make still greater use of the cloud, both internally and for sharing information with clients.
Cyber Security – One factor holding some companies back from using cloud services is fears over data security. This is an area which is increasingly vital for businesses of all sizes. Although the most-publicised recent hacking incidents have involved larger companies, it is increasingly realised that small companies can also be vulnerable, and in 2017 there is likely to be a still greater focus on ensuring cyber security. Ways for SMEs to achieve this include using secure passwords, ensuring that all software is kept up-to-date and educating staff in safe handling of data.
Mobile Technology – With smartphones and tablets in ever greater use, it is increasingly essential for businesses to embrace mobile technology, for instance, by making sure that it is easy to buy or place orders securely by smartphone. This also means being prepared to look at new apps which can make it easier to work remotely. Mobile working is another area where security can be a worry, so it is important to ensure that good practice is followed, for instance by protecting any data accessed via mobile apps and devices.
Online Accounting – There is a growing trend to move from traditional bookkeeping methods to online systems, which make it easier for both accountants and company owners to access accounts from wherever they are. More SMEs are set to make the leap from old-style spreadsheets and account books to online solutions over the coming year. One provider of accounts software has estimated that nearly 80% of small businesses will switch to online accounting within the next five years.
Video Conferencing – Increasingly, small companies in many sectors rely not only on local and home-grown talent, but also on working with people in other parts of the country and even around the world. If your colleagues are in far-flung areas, it is obviously impractical to hold frequent face-to-face meetings. But it can still be very helpful to have a full discussion rather than just communicating by phone or email, and video conferences are increasingly taken for granted as a way to do this. Improved functionality and faster internet speeds will see this trend develop further in the future.
Using Social Media – Partly as a result of the growth of smartphone use, social media has become increasingly important. One recent survey showed that only half of small businesses are currently making active use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, but it is becoming expected that all types of business will have a presence in these channels. If your company hasn’t as yet built up a social media following, this is a trend which you may want to consider over the coming 12 months.
Virtual Offices – The growth in technology is helping to make it easier to work remotely, with a growing number of small businesses being run from home, and many start-ups initially being run as part-time operations. There are obvious disadvantages to running a business via your own address, however, including the fact that it does not look very professional and can impact on your privacy.
If you do not yet feel ready to move into managed offices for rental, arranging a virtual office service can give you a proper business address and create a more professional impression. As a way of working embraced by Millennials, in particular, this is another tech trend which is tipped to grow in popularity during 2017.
Basepoint Business Centres offers high-speed internet and free wi-fi for our licensees and also provides virtual office packages, making our centres the ideal choice for small businesses which want to take advantage of all the benefits of the digital age. We have centres in areas including Evesham, Broxbourne, Bournemouth and Swindon. Follow the link for more details of our locations.