Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Top Ten Technology Trends for Small Businesses - 2009

Small Business Trends website Posted using ShareThis Every year two things happen in the world of technology overall and especially in the world of small businesses. 1. Technology remains the same (cell phones, computers, web browsers - ho hum) 2. Technology evolves and gets better (think iPhone, Netbooks, Google’s Chrome - match them to the list above) What this means for your business is that if you want your business to grow through leveraging technology you simply can not continue to rely on the same old technology you have always used. ... What are the top 10 technology trends you need to be on the lookout for in 2009, for your small business? Let’s take a look: 1. Netbook Adoption Accelerates Mini computers, weighing around 2 pounds and the size of a large book, are ideal tools for busy executives and professionals on the go. ... If you need a portable computer for basic computing tasks and find that your main notebook is too heavy and bulky and your smartphone’s keyboard and screen are too small, a Netbook could be something for you to consider. ... 2. Built-in Wireless Broadband Usages Widens Many of us use external wireless cards that provide cellular phone connectivity for mobile computing just about anywhere in the United States. ... Instead of having to use an external wireless card, most every notebook [vendors sell] an option to embed broadband wireless access into their notebooks. ... 3. Cell Phones Get more Software ... Instead of wireless cell phone carriers controlling the applications that reside on cell phones, Google and Apple have changed this model. ... Google and Apple are working directly with developers to ensure applications are developed for their respective platforms. In 2009 you’ll still see more cell phones released in the traditional model (such as the BlackBerry Bold and Storm), but you’ll also see more cell phones on the market led by software vendors. ... The software options available on these devices, as exemplified by the breadth of tools on Apple’s iPhone, increase productivity for businesses. ... 4. Unified Communications Increase ... These systems place the power of telephony onto the computer and include an integration of telephone, CRM, chat, address book, calendar and other things. Many companies are also developing feature rich and low cost UC platforms specifically for small businesses. Many of these systems work in conjunction with voice over the Internet solutions and allow one to use a telephone, PC or smartphone to access the UC features. ... For example, if customers call your office, you should be able to see their profile on your computer screen automatically. ... Another example: If you get a fax, there’s no reason why you should not be alerted to the fax and even see the fax from your smartphone. ... 5. Online Data Backups Proliferate ... In 2009 you’ll see vendors offering more online backup solutions. ... There are many “consumer” oriented backup solutions, many free. In 2009 these consumer backup solutions will offer options for more storage and more enhanced backup solutions for small businesses - through the Internet. ... Online, or cloud computing backup solutions, makes the backup solution completely automated and hassle free. 6. Social Media Becomes Strategic ... In 2009 expect more businesses to use social media as a way to communicate with customers. While web sites and email newsletters are still important communication tools social media tools as a standard (not exception) communication tool will increase. For example, more people will be aware of Twitter (beyond just geeks) and start to use it to receive information from businesses they want to keep in touch with. LinkedIn is a powerful tool for finding connections, but users often under-utilize it. ... It is important that you learn as much as you can about enhancing your use of social media in order to network with other businesses, find new customers and better communicate with existing customers. 7. Online Video gets Cheaper and More Widespread ...As more companies produce low cost and quality tools for video production and sharing of those videos (such as YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo and businesses can leverage video as a powerful marketing tool. Video can complement a blog, email newsletter or Facebook page quite nicely. 8. Video Conference Solutions Expand ...The systems of 5 and 10 years ago, with grainy images and low quality are much different than the feature-rich and higher quality systems of today. Being able to connect with customers, prospects, vendors or employees “face to face” via video is often better than simply email, telephone or instant messaging. ... There are dozens of good, inexpensive, video conference solutions - Skype and Sightspeed are two you might want to try out. 9. Hosted Software Applications Go on the Fast Track ... Hosted applications continue to be used more and more because of its benefits over traditional software. Traditional software has to be installed on a server, rolled out to individual computers, could cause other applications to crash and adds more complications if remote employees must use the application. Hosted applications, or software as a service (SaaS), on the other hand, removes all of these complications. All you need is a web browser to access the hosted application. The downside? If you lose access to the Internet you lose access to your application. ... 10. Online Presence Gap Widens ... Those businesses that strategically use online media to communicate and market their businesses will have more loyal customers and can better attract prospective customers. ... You must be online and visible if you want to thrive and beat your competition. ... ... The reason for more businesses not embracing online communication tools is the lack of understanding of its importance for their business, the perception of its complexity and the lack of understanding of the benefits. Part of the Small Business Trends 2009 Trends Series. * * * * * About the Author: Ramon Ray is the founder and Editor of He is also the founder of the Small Business Technology Summit held in New York each year. He is the founder of Taste of technology, an ongoing series of small business technology events held each quarter.