As we head into 2017, optimism around small business – and its prospects – is on the rise. So, what’s on the horizon for entrepreneurs in the new year? I asked a number of leading small business experts about their top predictions related to what’s most important for small business in 2017 and unanimously, they all came back with predictions around technology.
So, what technology trends will be tops for small business in 2017? From data and analytics to mobile and artificial intelligence, here’s what our small business experts had to say:
David Smith, VP of Worldwide SMB Sales at Microsoft*
Top 2017 Small Business Prediction: Data and analytics. Data will take the guesswork out of entrepreneurship. The potential for data and analytics in the small business space is huge – it will help business owners and employees make more informed, impactful decisions about their business and also innovate in new ways. Adoption of business intelligence and analytics solutions will come fast and furious in 2017.
Cindy Bates, VP of US SMB & Distribution at Microsoft
Top 2017 Small Business Prediction: Harnessing new technology and business intelligence. The year 2017 will accelerate the SMB “technology revolution” that is underway. Solutions that previously were available only to the largest companies are now available to the smallest thanks to the Cloud. This includes affordable Business Intelligence solutions that let SMBs take advantage of data to understand and optimize their businesses, CRM solutions that help drive profitable, satisfied and loyal customers and mobile solutions that allow SMBs to work from anywhere and serve their customers with mobile solutions.
Caroline Goles, Director of Office365 SMB Marketing at Microsoft
Top 2017 Small Business Prediction: Embracing personalization and context. For businesses large and small, success is the sum of each customer engagement. Customers are increasingly expecting customized experiences. The year 2017 is when technology will enrich the customer experience for everyone. Small businesses that are able to embrace personalization for their customers will win.
Steve Strauss, Small Business Expert and USA Today Columnist
Top 2017 Small Business Prediction: Security. Unfortunately, there has been a rise of ransomware and other security issues for small businesses. Small businesses are now targets more than anyone else. If you own a small business, you are a target and you don’t know it. But you don’t want to find out too late, so be sure to be focused on security during the year.
Anita Campbell, Publisher of Small Business Trends
Top 2017 Small Business Prediction: Lack of technology integration. I expect it will be a disappointing year for integration for technology. There are too many applications from different companies that don’t “talk to each other.” This creates a lack of efficiency and an opportunity for better integration to really enhance productivity.
Barry Moltz, Small Business Expert and Host of Business Insanity Radio
Top 2017 Small Business Prediction: Artificial Intelligence. People want a “zero interface” with their technology devices. Consumers don’t want to go to different applications to get different information. They want to ask questions in natural language to one central interface. This means there will be more use of virtual assistants like Cortana, Siri and Alexa. Bots will become especially popular when communicating with any electronic device. It’s a big opportunity for small businesses to leverage the emerging AI products out there.
Rieva Lesonsky, Small Business Expert and Owner of GrowBiz Media and SmallBizDaily.com
Top 2017 Small Business Prediction: It’s all about mobile. Mobile is an area that the American consumer has embraced more than the small businesses owners of our country. The Mobile web, mobile marketing, using mobile-enabled commerce and more have all become the norm for customers. The small businesses that don’t catch up will be left behind.
What do you think will lead the way for small business in 2017? Share your ideas with us.
* Disclosure: this company has a client relationship with CarolRoth.com or its affiliated entities