17 Jul 2013 Discover a geek’s view on the IT hot topics for 2013/14

We love a bit of technology – well we are geeks!

With so many new tools and trends, apps and devices there is a lot to consider for your business. Here we explore the IT and tech trends that may have an impact on your business in the coming 12 months. In other words, we’ve done the geek thing so you don’t have to.

1. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) / Application (BYOA)

BYOD is a about allowing employees to bring their personally owned mobile devices (laptops, tablets and smart phones) to the workplace. The claimed benefits of BYOD are numerous.

You can improve efficiency and productivity (one survey even showed that BYOD employees work an additional 240 hours per year). Employees are already comfortable and familiar with their devices. With increased mobility and flexibility you can boost team morale and individual job satisfaction. Your business also becomes more attractive to high-performing individuals who value the freedom and flexibility of BYOD.

But something even more exciting for the future is BYOA (Bring Your Own Application). App innovation is fast paced as developers find ever more interesting and effective tools for small businesses. There are now smarter ways to manage time, people and resources to deliver better results.

We think companies that embrace BYOA will see huge benefits over their competition. Employees will become more productive, more collaborative and find ever more innovative solutions to problems.

Of course, security questions exist, but the key is having a clear policy. What are the types of devices your employees can use? What security procedures must they adhere to before connecting to your network? And which app makers can they trust?

2. Mobile Device Management (MDM)

According to a PaySimple survey, 90% of small businesses use a mobile device and 50% use a tablet – with 62% of employees owning two devices (source AT&T).

The massive rise of mobile devices in the workplace introduces a range of data and equipment management issues that need to be properly considered and controlled. So we believe MDM will become a big issue.

How do you allocate access rights and manage configuration? How do you keep your policy up-to-date with rapid technology changes? And what’s the best way to protect against data leakage issues and lost or stolen devices.

Companies will have to deal with the issue of employee owned devices and differentiating between business and personal use (where devices are used for storing company documents and family photos). So a crucial development for continued growth in MDM will be the clear separation between the management of business and personal data on the same device.

3. Not just more social media, smarter social media

2012 was a monster year for social media. In 2012, Facebook announced 1 billion active users (and now with over 42 million business pages). Twitter has seen growth explode with an estimated 21% of global Internet users now classed as active Twitter users, sending 175 million tweets daily. According to PaySimple, 51% of small businesses use Facebook and 18% LinkedIn.

So social media is big. The very nature of social and consumer behaviour has changed (and is still changing). But how will social media change business further? We believe in 2013 and 2014, SMEs will better incorporate social media into their communications strategy and learn better ways to use it as a marketing tool.

This improved understanding of social media will be coupled with social media streamlining. In other words, it will be less about what everyone else is doing and become more about which social media is right for your business.

The result of both of these trends will be an increased ability to turn social media activity into cold hard sales. Activity will be less about how many fans and likes you have and more about finding your niche and getting the most ROI from that online audience.

4. IT will become more intuitive and accessible

Companies are becoming increasingly aware that what the user wants is not simply lots of bells and whistles and flashy things that, well… flash. People like simple tools that are easy to use and allow them to get the job done.

We have all begun to expect easy navigation, a short leaning curve for new tools and a seamless experience (all the way along the customer journey).
Good design (including intuitive user experience) will soon become the norm. We predict that those companies striving for the simplest, most intuitive and easy to use interfaces will be the long-term winners.

And that leads us onto the final point…

5. Invest in technology or get left behind

Whether your company thrives or dives has never been more closely linked to your approach to technology. A survey by Simply Business discovered that those companies that lack basic IT skills are the ‘most likely not to record an annual profit’.

Those that embrace new IT tools and trends will be best placed to handle the competitive environment of the future. Investment in technology and training is not just for companies like Apple. Consumers demand more and will spend their money with the company that provides it.

Now is the time to start thinking about a strategy for the future. We can help you use IT in a smarter way to become more productive and innovative. Creating the plan for the future that will ensure your business is not left behind in a rapidly moving business tech world.