every SME should know
Disruption, innovation and technology are the three components that go hand in hand in 2016, changing how businesses operate, interact with their customers, even determining whether businesses flourish or fall behind. The predictions for 2017 are in, and the expert consensus is that apart from new technology, existing tech that gained traction in 2016 will grow even bigger. Businesses who wish to stay ahead of the curve should look into adopting or improving their use of data analytics, cloud adoption and the Internet of Things (IoT) for increased profit in 2017 and the years to come.
Big data gets bigger
At the forefront of countless business trends is big data analytics, with innovators using this tool in unique ways. One ambitious startup, Edited, has figured out how to analyse past and current data to predict future trends1. If effective, this promises to be a game-changer in the industry. By knowing what customers want in future, retailers can prepare and stock up on products expected to be high in demand, maximising their revenue.
By now, every industry is implementing big data to make better informed business decisions, though smaller businesses are slower to adopt this trend due to lack of resources and finances. Roambi Co-founder Quinton Alsbury has a solution. He advises small businesses to “focus their efforts and dive deep into a few business-critical sets of data – such as sales in a specific sector, or performance metrics during peak versus low seasons”.
For a comprehensive data service that is analysed by experts and tailored specifically toward your business, consider StarHub’s SmartHub. The intelligent solution offers you near real-time, multidimensional insights that help your business make more informed decisions.
The Cloud expands
Although Amazon established its public cloud computing services a decade ago, uptake was slow up till this year. In the first quarter of 2016, cloud service sales skyrocketed by 64%, and then by 58% by the end of June2.
is only a sign of things to come.”
Expert predictions point towards the Hybrid Cloud being the next big thing. Whereas the cloud is usually conducted over public networks like Amazon’s or Google’s, the hybrid cloud will contain a mixture of public and private cloud solutions, in which the private cloud is hosted on a business’s own domain.
Though the integration of public cloud services and local IT infrastructure might seem out of reach for SMEs, IBM’s Heidi Dethloff explains that hybrid services are the perfect solution for smaller businesses. “Because midsize companies tend to have limited resources, a hybrid cloud model can provide the best of both worlds. Blending elements of both private and public cloud models, the hybrid cloud allows companies to manage some resources in-house via a private cloud model."3
For those not ready to explore the hybrid cloud yet, public cloud solutions are still a viable option.
Key reasons for adoption among small businesses include cost savings from the cloud’s pay-per-user model, and, contrary to popular belief, an increase in security as compared to traditional computing methods. According to the London Group Business Advisors, “The average SME business using traditional computing often has gaping holes in privacy, security and recovery… but properly implemented cloud solutions can be very safe. Business processes can be enforced and data is usually strongly encrypted when stored and transferred.”
For flexible, comprehensive cloud solutions, consider StarHub. Ranging from the scalable, DDoS protected Argonar hosted platform to SmartBusiness, a marketplace for business applications like Office365 that are available through a subscription model, StarHub’s cloud solutions help you run your business seamlessly.
IoT goes full speed
2017 was declared the year when “The Internet of Things (IoT) begins” and the swift changes in the South East Asian SME landscape are proof.
Burgeoning startup apps like Hong Kong’s Klikr, India’s Inoho and Singapore’s Xped have mushroomed, focusing on connecting mobile phones to everyday services (https://www.techinasia.com/talk/7-asian-iot-startups-set-change-live). The apps give people the option to use their smartphones as a universal remote control, managing appliances like their TV or lighting, even when away from home.
Other young businesses can follow suit by tapping into the IoT trend to give each customer a personalised experience. IoT can carve out a key route to disruption for entrepreneurs in every industry, allowing them to create new products and services.
SMEs can also use the IoT to improve on their existing products. Manufacturers can include sensors to detect and prevent future downtime and wear in their products, allowing them to proactively offer a solution. In the healthcare industry, wearable devices let medical professionals monitor and communicate with patients remotely. Retailers can sell their physical products with trackers, so customers can locate their items when misplaced.
46% of businesses are still slow to adopt the latest technology despite it being critical to growth4. In 2017, technological tools will play an even bigger role in shaping the business landscape, and SMEs will have to keep up to stay competitive.