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Small and medium-sized businesses comprise about 99% of all businesses in the United States. SMBs also claim 47.5% of all United States employees according to a 2018 study. There have been many disruptive IT trends over the last two decades. These disruptions have influenced the operations of SMBs with some of them presenting growth opportunities. New IT trends emerge almost every single day. As a result, SMB leaders have to make informed decisions when taking on them.
Disruptive IT Trends to Look Forward to in 2021
Technology advances have caused a shift in customer expectations. Consequently, small and medium-sized businesses have had to start preparing for the future. Some of the existing trends will advance even more in 2021, thereby increasing convenience.
Below Are Some of These Trends
1. Machine Learning
This involves enabling a system to learn and improve itself with continued use. It is already in use by firms in the finance and telecommunications industries. The success of machine learning initiatives depends on the availability of huge datasets. For that reason, SMBs should have huge datasets when preparing to adopt this trend. This will give them an edge over their competitors.
Embracing today's trends is the best way to prepare for new trends. Hence, SMBs should adopt trends such as personalized customer service and the use of project management tools. Before investing in machine learning systems, SMBs need to have a basic understanding of how they operate. This is to make sure they get an efficient system.
2. Predictive Analytics
The application of predictive analytics is on the rise, especially due to the development of data collection tools. SMBs have realized the importance of data and applying predictive analytics in their operations. Businesses that forecast future trends have an edge over their competitors. Heading into 2021, it is an expectation that predictive analytics will affect SMB decision making. Businesses will be able to predict future sales and know when to avoid risk. Even so, over 59% of small and medium-sized businesses are currently facing difficulties in adopting new technologies.
These businesses should adopt predictive analysis by:
- Having a large centralized database
- Determining valuable data for use in the creation of prediction models
- Consulting with software vendors to determine the ease adaptation
3. Rise of Conversational User Interfaces
Conversational user interfaces comprise of technologies that interact with users digitally. Interfaces such as chatbots and virtual assistants have improved workflow in SMBs. In customer service, they provide information to customers. Conversational user interfaces have become common in most SMBs, leading to a wider variety of interactions. Their use has improved efficiency by reducing the workload of customer service agents. This has helped a great deal as SMB customer bases continue to grow.
SMBs can also collect feedback that may be useful in improving the services on offer. Increased customer engagement gives a good impression of the business. Most SMBs are yet to adopt conversational user interfaces. In preparation, they should create an internal central knowledge system. It will store business data that will be easy to access.
4. Personifying User Experience
This is where businesses create targeted ads based on users’ online activity. They target potential customers with specialized content that triggers interest in their products. Most SMBs that advertise online are likely to adopt this strategy come in 2021. This trend is already in use on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Since this trend requires a lot of personal data, SMBs should start recording customer interactions and base their strategies on already successful cases in the market.
This is the technology that powers cryptocurrency. It records a transaction between two users in a verifiable way across a public network. Currently, bitcoin is the most common application of blockchain. SMBs that already adopted blockchain have been very successful. Blockchain does away with transaction costs and improves cash flow. It is also easy to trace assets reducing the chance of buying fake goods.
It is foreseen that the use of blockchain outside cryptocurrency will increase in 2021. When hiring, recruiters in SMBs will use blockchain to verify candidate information. This will also make it easy to determine the quality of goods by checking the supply chain. SMBs that are yet to adopt blockchain in their activities should find out the benefits it is likely to bring to their businesses. They should also come up with rough estimates on how much adopting blockchain will cost.
6. Disruptive IT Trends for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
Manual systems continue to get phased out every day. As a result, SMBs need to embrace technological advancements. Businesses that have already incorporated technology and invested in software have a competitive edge in the market. In as much as they are disruptors, there are many benefits to embracing technology. In preparation for the upcoming trends, SMBs should invest in software that is likely to make their operations easier.