Technology continues to have a dramatic impact on the way that small businesses operate. The internet and mobile devices have had a particularly significant effect, as they are changing how business market their products and interact with customers. If you want your business to remain as competitive as possible, it’s important stay up-to-date with the latest technological trends. In this guide, we’ll share the biggest tech trends for small businesses in 2017. Understanding these trends will give you a head start for 2018 and will help ensure your business remains successful.
- Social media became even more influential
The growth of social media over the past decade has been nothing short of spectacular. There are now more than 2 billion monthly active users on Facebook, 300 million on Twitter, and 800 million on Instagram. In 2017, many small businesses began using social media to achieve new goals including:
- Improving brand awareness and advertising new products
- Promoting sales and special offers
- Providing customer support
- Increasing web traffic
- Promoting content marketing campaigns
This tech trend is expected to continue in 2018, with more small businesses using social media daily.
- More small businesses used crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is a fundraising method where you obtain many small amounts from many different people. In 2017, many small businesses began using crowdfunding to fund new products or business ventures. Crowdfunding works very well if your business has a loyal customer base and allows you to try new things with less risk. Using crowdfunding is also easier thanks to new crowdfunding platforms like Fundable, IndieGoGo, and GoFundMe.
- More small business allowed workers to work remotely
Allowing some employees to work from home on a part-time or full-time basis can be very advantageous to a small businesses. There are cost savings associated with having less staff in the office, including lower utilities costs and equipment costs. Employees who have the option to work from home also tend to be more productive and effective. Many workers have better job satisfaction if they can spend a little more time at home as well.
In 2017, more small businesses became aware of these advantages and began allowing some employees to work remotely, often via the Internet. With excellent productivity gains and cost savings available, remote offices are sure to remain popular in 2018.
- Online subscriptions boomed in popularity
In 2017, more small businesses started using online subscriptions. Consumers pay a small recurring fee and in return, they are provided with a service or product on a regular basis. Online subscriptions are now being used for everything from razor blades through to wine and vegetables. Websites like PayPal make it simple for businesses to sign customers up to a subscription service.
- Small businesses are using more payment methods
Most small businesses have already integrated electronic payment methods like PayPal into their day-to-day operations. In 2017, more small businesses began integrating new payment methods like Square, Android Pay, and Apple Pay. Some small businesses are even starting to accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Adding more payment options gives consumers more flexibility and increases the likelihood that they will follow through on a purchase.
- Small businesses began outsourcing additional technologies
Traditionally, small businesses would provide support over the phone or face-to-face. The advent of the internet allowed business owners to also provide support via email. In 2017, more small business owners began providing support via other channels including like social media, video chat, and text chat. These technologies allow for immediate interaction with a customer, which the customer finds very satisfying. They can also be performed remotely and at a very low cost. Small businesses also started using other remote technologies like hiring a small business accountant in Melbourne, Miami, or London, which can help businesses around the world. This trend helps minimize in-house costs and allows companies to focus more on their mission, so it shows no sign of slowing in 2018.
- Small businesses jumped into content marketing
Content marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing right no. It involves the creation of high-quality content that is shared both online and offline. Creating valuable content for others to enjoy can establish your business as an industry leader, attract more visitors to your website, and improve brand awareness. The best part is that content marketing is very affordable. Many small business really increased their content marketing initiatives in 2017.
- Data security is being taken more seriously
We saw many large security breaches in 2017, which resulted in the loss of millions of customer records. Many of these breaches involved large companies like Bell Canada, Yahoo, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Target. These attacks severely tarnished the reputations of these companies and in some cases, led to lawsuits.
Governments around the world introduced legislation that would force companies to be more careful with user data. In the EU, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set to come into force in 2018, which compels businesses to be more transparent in the way they collect, process, and secure data. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to data security breaches. Many small business owners began to take cybersecurity much more seriously in 2017 — a trend that will continue in 2018.