If you feel as though the pace of business is getting faster, you’re right. The way we do business is changing at an accelerated pace, thanks largely to several technology trends. For any organisation, it is a time of both threat and opportunity – and for small businesses, the right choices now will help you thrive in the digital future.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show that 44% of Australian businesses embarked on some form of innovation in the last year. Small to mid-sized businesses were less likely to invest in innovation than their larger competitors. Future-readiness can be daunting, but it can sometimes be as simple as choosing the right server when you’re making updates, or making better use of software you already have.
Whether you’re dreaming up ways to deliver new services, or just want to run more efficiently, it is worth tracking these 5 key technologies for the future:
It sounds futuristic, but AI is already in use in many organisations. The breakthrough came when powerful processors were more readily available for mainstream devices. AI, or machine learning, is now affordable for small businesses. Lenovo, who have built their new breed of servers with AI in mind, say that AI and machine learning are ‘key tools for businesses in their journey to digital transformation’.
What can AI do for you? The possibilities are limitless. It could be as simple as directing shoppers to associated products on an e-commerce site, or as vital as bolstering security defences, or as efficient as streamlining production. And if you’ve got a lot of data, so much the better – AI becomes more accurate. How can a small business prepare? Look at servers and storage that are AI ready!
Telsyte research predicts that the average Australian household will have 29 connected devices by the end of the decade. It is a startling rise fuelled by smart everything – cars, light bulbs, speakers, air-conditioning, you name it! As businesses, our customers, staff and suppliers will be connected in new ways, and small businesses must be ready.
At Stott Hoare, we already work with many customers to harness the opportunity of IoT, finding ways to employ intelligent devices to make life easier, and to offer new services. Through this, it has become apparent that the right workplace devices and a strong cloud strategy are key to success. This is one area where small, agile businesses often lead the way. Good ideas can come from anywhere.
Creating the right environment for innovation is a great starting point for any business that wants to get more from technology. Cloud offers attractive benefits, not least the ability to scale up and down fast, even having a full development environment available in minutes, without buying a single extra piece of equipment.
There are still advantages to on-premise IT as well, though, and most organisations have some form of hybrid cloud environment. Technology vendors have created a new generation of infrastructure that is designed to give cloud-like agility and a seamless cloud/on-premise mix. Using a building block approach, leaders Lenovo has made hybrid infrastructure that is easy to install out of the box, and then to build and rebuild quickly as needed.
Wherever you go, you’re likely to see wi-fi offered by shopping centres, restaurants, sports stadiums and all kinds of businesses. Many small businesses opt for off-the-shelf wi-fi, but this can present security risks and performance shortfalls. The time saved by easily installed business wi-fi systems means they pay for themselves before long.
For employees making the most of mobility, the benefit of wi-fi means access to suitable devices. For small businesses, our specialists recommend when adding new laptops or replacing scanners to consider the quality of connectivity as a key requirement.
Just as consumers and businesses have access to a new breed of technology, so do cyber-criminals. ASIC estimates that cyber-crime costs the Australian economy $1 billion annually in direct costs alone. Attacks are frequent, and small businesses are a target. With this in mind, placing security as a priority in your IT plan makes sense – breaches are costly both in dollars and reputation.
There is no one single security silver bullet at this point. Businesses must layer security measures. Cyber-crime is big business, and the more time it costs to breach defences, the more likely they are to choose an easier target. We advise customers to seek strong security features in every device, from smartphones to servers. Our partners Lenovo in-build security into every product they sell — but security doesn’t stop there. Stott Hoare guides businesses through the best security products to match their individual needs – no two are the same. There are simple measures that anyone can take, like ensuring updates are always performed rapidly – or some businesses opt for the device service options Stott Hoare offers, and leave it all to our technicians.
There are, of course, many technologies that will influence small businesses, and for more specific guidance, we’re here to help. Time to plan for the digital economy? Stott Hoare applies IT knowledge to improve business performance. Contact our experienced team.