The Key IT Solutions for SMEs in 2016

Time certainly flies when you’re having fun doesn’t it? With the New Year already a hazy memory and the end of the first quarter of 2016 closing in fast, it’s time to gaze into our digital crystal ball and take a peek at what the future holds for IT solutions over the next twelve months.

Because just as time doesn’t stand on ceremony, the same is most certainly true for the technological advancement in an ever more digitised and mobile business environment.

The move to Software as a Service (SaaS)

As we’ve looked at before, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been making the move towards cloud based applications in hefty numbers in recent years, with anywhere between 70% and 80% already using it to varying degrees.

Of course, with businesses moving in ever greater numbers towards a more mobile workforce with increases in remote working away from the office, the adoption of the cloud in one form or another is hardly surprising.

And with this continuation towards the cloud within the SME landscape, the strong likelihood appears to be this will gravitate businesses in the direction of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions in the months, and possibly years, ahead.

Designed to utilise the cloud in order to provide essential business services (from data storage to communication) and increase productivity in the workplace, SaaS is already the go-to option for many businesses, and all indications suggest that this won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

The versatility of software solutions such as Microsoft 365 allows employees access to critical business tools irrespective of where they may be working – be that home, the office, on the road or even abroad – bringing greater efficiency and mobility. Both of which are essential requirements in a business world that steadily grows more mobile and certainly demands efficiency for its bottom line.

Indeed, a quick scan around the industry will point you to the notion that SaaS is not only here to stay, but sure to become a more dominant feature of SMEs IT solutions throughout 2016 and beyond.

Forbes magazine predicted a year ago that SaaS would be taken up by businesses on a global scale, suggesting that nigh on 60% worldwide would be using SaaS within their business by 2018 with Gartner, who have monitored the steady to meteoric growth in SaaS predicting a further increase in excess of 20% for SaaS solutions by the end of 2016.

Cloud Collaboration in the Workplace

With this increase in mobility and business services delivered through the cloud, we can expect a further increase in the notion of cloud collaboration as a means of operation within SME business procedure.

Collaboration on projects and work schemes has been a feature of business for as long as business existed. But whereas this could be a laborious process centred on meetings and focus groups, time spent either travelling to other locations or waiting for documents to be transferred back, nowadays the cloud offers a swift and efficient way for parties to work collaboratively regardless of location.

Use of online project management tools, the ability to instantly share data across office and mobile platforms, as well as immediate communication – be that mobile, instant messaging groups or video conferencing, provides accessible tools for efficient, productive and cost-effective collaboration between departments, remote working colleagues (or other office locations) as well as with clients.

The continuing evolution and investment into business tools such as Salesforce, 365 or Google Drive indicating that this is a model for work that will see only greater prominence in the months and years ahead.

Security

And finally, with so much data moving across virtual space and the overwhelming influence the internet has on both work and private life, heightened awareness of security matters will surely become ever greater matters of priority for businesses of all sizes.

The threat of cyber-attacks is already a matter of concern for leaders of large corporations and the impact on SMEs is no less damaging. As we’ve looked at in the past, malicious attacks such as DDoS and hacking incidents can have major implications for both the bottom line and a company’s reputation. A reason why we are seeing, and will surely continue to see, the matter making its way from the IT department all the way to the top of the agenda on many a board meeting the world over.

The likelihood is that security itself will become an increasingly measurable asset in a business, to be used as a selling point for securing (if you excuse the pun) new business. Increased transactions made online – be that B2B or B2C – require confidence up front that it can take place safely. We’re all becoming savvier in our internet use and while the movement of money or indeed data happens as a matter of course these days, it is the presence of security measures which delivers the confidence for this to occur.

And it’s the same in the business community. A report from Computer Weekly shows how internet security is already being flagged up as a tool to encourage new business, a demonstration that services offered can be delivered in good confidence. It suggests that at least in part, the future of a business’ security priority will be driven, not just as a means to protect their own interest, integrity and data, but as a way of driving their business development.

Conclusion

The world in which we live has changed dramatically over the course of the internet age; and the merging of digital and physical space shows no sign of abating. For the business community, and SMEs in particular, this presents both challenges and potentially extraordinary new opportunities. But of course, as with all progression, simply leaping onto the next big thing (or fad, as they might otherwise be known) is not always the most sensible course of action. The emergence of cloud services and related business tools offer possibilities for all businesses, but if they are to add value to a business and drive profitability and productivity then they need to be tailored accordingly, SMEs adopting the specific tools right for their business; appropriate to their budget.

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Related blogs: IT News

Tagged with: cloud collaboration, cloud computing, saas, software as a service

Categorised as: IT News

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