What SMB Technology Trends Are Coming in 2015?
During the new year, IT trends will be focused more on strategies and management of services rather than hardware or software improvements. With budgets for SMB IT departments continuing to increase, IT leaders will have to decide where to spend their money and how to better support their business through technology. In 2015, SMB technology trends are all about delivery: delivering services anywhere, anytime, and doing it securely.
Less On-Premise Infrastructure
Many SMBs are realizing the benefits of cloud-based infrastructure and making the move to convert their business. The elimination of on-premise infrastructure, hardware, and the costs that come with them is hard to resist.
The cloud offers a flexible way to deliver business software without having to purchase and maintain hardware (or in some cases, the software). Options include Software as a Service for a “cloud-in-a-box” solution to productivity and collaboration applications; or an Infrastructure as a Service solution, created in-house or with a service provider, to provide e-mail, custom apps, backup, or other use.
For enterprises, cloud computing is no longer a trend, it’s a de facto reality. It’s time for SMBs to catch up and get in the cloud. It looks like they’re starting to see the light: 25% of surveyed SMBs said they would dedicate more money to cloud in the next five years.
A Focus On Security
Another expensive and time-consuming aspect of a business that can be outsourced to a service provider is the monitoring of data security to prevent breaches. Look at all the recent breaches that have been popular topics in the news lately.
Many of these breaches happened to big name companies, but cyber criminals actually prefer to target SMBs. The big name breaches hit the news because of the vast number of affected consumers, not because of frequency. SMBs are easy, well-liked targets because in many cases they do not realize how valuable their data actually is, causing their guard to be down and/or their security tools to be out-of-date. A recent report discovered 30% of businesses that purchased security tools were not using them at all, or underusing them.
These attacks offer low risks and high rewards for cyber criminals. Don’t let your business fall victim in 2015.
Shadow IT Takes Over
The use of IT solutions and systems inside a company to send sensitive content without explicit approval by the organization’s IT department, has become a trending topic for 2015. These unauthorized means for content delivery run the risk of not being in line with a company’s compliance standards, and may open the company up to more threats of data loss or leaks.
Shadow IT can be as simple as the Marketing department storing passwords in a shared Google document, or as complicated as Accounting subscribing to a cloud financial service. If the IT department isn’t running the system, it’s in the shadows and out of control.
Solving Shadow IT is complicated, because it can empower your workers even as it leaves data at risk or out of compliance. Often times people don’t want to wait for an official IT solution to be tested and rolled out. The best way to start is by polling your employees to see what services may be under your nose, then start designing an in-house (or sanctioned, service provider-delivered) solution that meets the needs of your employees. Only then can you start blocking unsanctioned services.
The More Mobile, The Better
A growing number of SMBs believe that mobile solutions are critical to their business, and with the increase in ease of use for new applications, BYOD (bring your own device) has become a simple and popular way for businesses to offer mobility to employees. This increases employee satisfaction even as it makes workers more available to business owners.
The management of these devices is still a concern for many but with monitoring and access control software, encryption tools, mobile device management, and Virtual Desktops, security, segregation, and management of company data can be achieved, even on employee-owned devices.
Connected Devices Everywhere
The IoT (Internet of Things) is experiencing an explosive growth for more intelligent and connected devices of all types.
One factor leading to this growth is the lower cost of RFIDs (Radio Frequency Identification), which has made adoption more practical for SMBs and helps to improve inventory accuracy, automate customer checkouts, and reduce theft by providing real-time data. Some RFID systems can be set up to identify the location of customers within a store and send them push notifications through their smart phones. Others can monitor the state of company vehicles in order to provide more timely maintenance, reduce the vehicle downtime, and ultimately decrease costs.
Other devices connect via Bluetooth or WiFi, delivering data at a constant rate. With more connected employees, more connected devices, and more platforms for analyzing and storing this data, business leaders can glean vital insights about how different departments are running, how employees interact with customers, and how customers interact with stores, websites, or services.
It will be interesting to see how all of these trends develop over 2015. What kind of technology is your IT department looking to adopt this year?