In the small and mid-market business (SMB) environment, time equals money. An uptick in productivity and efficiency can quickly result in increased revenue and gaining a step ahead of the competition. So when SMBs begin to plan for future investments in new and advanced technologies, it’s crucial that they select products and solutions with scalability, advanced feature sets and strong customer and partner ecosystems in place. Here are three key industry trends and emerging technologies that that can help SMBs increase productivity, yield new revenues and gain a digital edge.
Cloud computing. Two very popular words that have opened up a new way of doing business for small business owners. According to a survey from Egnyte earlier this year, 74 percent of SMBs will increase their spending on cloud-based software in 2011. While there are definitely security considerations, such as network reliability, to evaluate before making the transition, an increasing number of SMBs are turning to the cloud for a simpler, more cost effective way to access and store data. Additionally, cloud computing enables employees to seamlessly collaborate and interact with customers, regardless of their location.
Use of video. The video landscape has changed dramatically during the past couple years. No longer considered a luxury technology, SMBs now have access to a wide range of affordable, high quality video solutions and endpoints helping them stay connected and engaged from any location.
By weaving in video capabilities for business communications, SMBs are able to provide face-to-face support and consultation directly to clients, creating relationships once traditionally cemented by in-person interaction. Additionally, SMBs are able to invest the funds and associated travel time endured by going to a physical client location into other business needs such as employee training or company expansion.
New video technologies are cost-effective, easy to deploy and require minimal IT support, making it an ideal form of communication for small businesses. As the use of video becomes more pervasive, companies that fail to embrace the power of video will fall behind their market competitors.
The network. While it is easy to get caught up in the latest cloud computing and video trends, those technologies could not be successfully implemented without having a multi-functional, secure and scalable network in place. Unlike large organizations, SMBs have more modest computing and networking requirements, and as result, require minimal investment.
As an SMB expands, the network must grow with it. Even if the scale of the initial environment is small, SMBs should avoid investing in technologies that could limit scalability. Regardless of what technology solutions an SMB chooses to invest in, network infrastructure will continue to be the backbone of small business technology, serving as the foundation for any future technologies in the SMB space.
Eren Hussein is director, Partner Portfolio Marketing at Cisco