The business world is always ebbing and flowing with new concepts, ideas, and strategies in the attempt to innovate. The more technology can be used to do things that help a business run, the more processes can be automated bringing a layer of efficiency that isn’t possible without it. Let’s take a brief look at some of the technology trends that small businesses will be confronted with in 2023.
Efficiency and Productivity are Top Priorities
The last few years have really shaken things up for businesses. It started with the pandemic which shifted users around, and forced many types of businesses to either adapt or fizzle out. From our perspective, we’ve seen a fair mix of businesses that had some incredible growth because of their willingness to adapt.
Then we saw the collective workforce respond, as many people realized that they could work from the comfort of their own homes, which led to the Great Resignation (although it’s better to call it the Great Reshuffle). This has put the squeeze on businesses that haven’t responded to the new normal, making it harder to find applicants who are willing to relocate or commute when a better paying job is available and willing to let them work from home. In a recent survey, 60 percent of respondents said they would only consider an employer who would allow them to work remotely. It’s a big deal for much of the workforce.
Still, even for businesses that have been able to adapt to this, productivity is often a big fat question mark.
Fortunately, it honestly isn’t that hard to track. If your business was already using time-tracking software, or utilizing other metrics and KPIs to track performance of certain departments, then that’s really all you need. After all, if the work is getting done, who cares what percentage of that time had busy hands on a keyboard? We’ve seen business owners come up with logistical yet incredibly irrational ideas of how to track this stuff, but at the end of the day, it’s not about the number of seconds a PC is active or the number of feet a mouse cursor moves in a day—it’s about actual performance.
Even so, expect to see more of this type of reporting in your software, and if your line of business applications don’t support it, it’s time to work with IT to review other options that do.
It’s also worth asking management and key positions what they feel is missing from their workflows, because chances are, your business could be falling short on a relatively simple technology or process that could increase productivity. It could be as simple as setting up email filtering rules, deploying a document management system, or simply establishing processes in the software you already use to allow better collaboration between staff and departments.
The Artificial Intelligence Overlords Are Here to Stay
Ask any IT expert and they will give you one of two hot takes on their opinions of AI.
They will either say that it is an incredible achievement that is revolutionizing the way things get done, or they will roll their eyes and say something along the lines of how it’s just basically like doing a Google search but not being able to choose the result.
Love it or hate it, AI (at least, this thing that we’ve collectively decided to call AI) is here to stay. I won’t argue semantics, but what we are calling AI is basically just machine learning. I guess that puts me in the eye-rolling camp?
We’ve talked about this emerging technology before, and we’ve spouted some of the really incredible benefits it could have for a business. Here’s the thing; no SMB is sitting around looking at their excess IT budget and thinking “you know what we need to spend this on? AI! Call up S3 Technologies, Inc. and tell them to give us some of that AI!”
That being said, we’re at the point where AI is essentially like cloud computing was in the early 2000s. It’s definitely being used by major tech companies and causing huge ripples, but it’s not quite as clear as how small businesses can use it, but there’s definitely a lot of avenues. Fast forward a few years, almost every single business is utilizing cloud computing in some shape or fashion, and AI will probably see the same sort of growth.
You’ll still likely never call us up and say “Hey S3 Technologies, Inc., I’d really like you to give me a quote for some AI.” Or at least, not for several years. Still, we’re already working with SMBs to introduce applications that use artificial intelligence. Some high-end cybersecurity tools we’ve utilized take advantage of artificial intelligence. Technically, if our technician needs to do a Google search to pull up the documentation for your Wi-Fi router, that’s using artificial intelligence too.
We think 2023 is going to be the first year that the small business starts to get a little taste of AI, and over the next couple years industry after industry will start to establish more ways to utilize this technology to improve productivity and get more done with better results thanks to the automation it can bring.
Cybersecurity Will Continue to be a Growing Problem
We can’t stress this enough—even small businesses need to take cybersecurity seriously. We’ve made a couple comparisons to the distant past when talking about emerging technologies. If you were doing business in the early 2000s, remember when it was absolutely necessary to make sure you had a valid, up-to-date antivirus? That’s the same paradigm for 2023, except it takes much more than antivirus to protect an organization from modern-day threats. In fact, today, there isn’t really a cybersecurity solution on the market that is guaranteed to protect a business from threats. There is no amount of money you can pay to absolutely avoid all risk.
This sounds bleak. Honestly, it should. It’s a dangerous landscape and the cybercriminals treat their work like running a business of their own.
Cybersecurity trends for 2023 take a multi-tiered approach towards cybersecurity. There are the bare minimum solutions you need in place (like a VPN, centrally-managed antivirus, firewall, etc.), the internal policies that need to be enforced (limiting who has access to what, password policies, zero-trust policies, mobile device policies, etc.), and user training.
The user training is especially important, as most attacks come in the form of phishing emails that are designed to trick users while not getting picked up by security solutions.
At this point, if your business hasn’t experienced a crippling cybersecurity attack like ransomware or a data breach, you are either doing all of the right things, or you are very very lucky (or both).
Don’t let yourself be at risk.
Let’s Talk About the Future of Your Business
Modern technology can help your business be more effective, and help you stand out from your competition. It’s a good time to start putting together an IT roadmap for the next year. To get started, give S3 Technologies, Inc. a call at (505) 242-5683.