As the business and online space becomes increasingly competitive, businesses small and large alike are having to find new ways to stand out from the crowd. When it comes to tech, larger companies have traditionally had an advantage – but that might be changing.
Smaller businesses, thanks to their agility, flexibility, and ability to adapt quickly -coupled with the right technology- can increasingly outmaneuver their larger competition. We take a look at the top tech trends we expect to see in 2020, and how small and medium businesses can get in on the action.
Customized AI platforms become affordable for small businesses
While giants like Google, Microsoft and Amazon have been offering AI-as-a-service products for a while now, tailoring them to the unique needs of a business is a costly affair. For this reason, it’s mostly been large organizations that have taken advantage.
But as interest in AI expands across the board, there’s a growing demand for flexible, more affordable algorithms and products for smaller companies. This leaves a big gap in the market – and it’s one we’ll likely see providers start to fill in 2020.
Ironically, these services will probably be of the most benefit to the smallest businesses of them all – those with only a handful of employees, or new startups who depend mostly on freelancers. If the main factor holding your small business back is a lack of manpower, then looking into your machinepower options for 2020 could give you a distinct advantage!
Hardware – more companies turn to tech rentals to get ahead in 2020
Every time you blink it seems there’s a new cutting-edge smartphone, laptop, or all-in-one tablet entering the market. Sometimes they live up to the hype, and sometimes they don’t – but there’s no denying that having access to the latest models and technologies can give small businesses a competitive advantage.
Unfortunately, great tech often comes with a hefty price tag. (One popular brand name in particular probably sprang to mind there!) This is where tech rentals are becoming increasingly useful for SMEs. From phone rentals, to virtual reality wearables, to touch screen displays – leasing the tech you need, so you can upgrade when you need to without breaking the bank, is going to be a big tech trend for small businesses in 2020 and beyond.
Focus on tools which allow for collaborative work
More small businesses than ever are embracing the advantages of remote and freelance work; and the software industry is eager to provide innovative solutions. 2020 will no doubt see a plethora of these enter the market – so the time is now for small businesses to brainstorm their biggest needs and key pain points. The clearer you are on exactly what a collaborative communication tool needs to be able to do for your company, the more prepared you’ll be to grab the perfect solution for your business.
Small business marketing – increased focus on customer reviews and user-generated content
In the past, simply having an online presence could help to differentiate one small business from another. Over the past few years however, as virtually every business has come to realize the immense value of content marketing, it takes a little more to persuade potential customers to choose you. When deciding between two products, both of which are similarly priced and offered on two highly-professional looking websites – how do they make a choice?
They turn to customer reviews, of course. If one of the above products has just a handful of positive reviews, while the other has none at all, human instinct is to go with the herd – even if the other product is actually a better fit for them. In fact, a whopping 92% of customers will hesitate to purchase a product that has no reviews.
If you’ve got a great product, modern customers are no longer satisfied just to take your word for it! For this reason, small businesses should be placing significant focus on encouraging their customers to share their feedback online. Fake, overly positive and clearly biased reviews won’t wash either.
So how do you go about this? Step one is simply to ask nicely! Whether dealing with a customer on the phone or via email, indicate how much you’d appreciate an honest review on your website or Google My Business page. If you’re in the early stages with a product, you might even consider doing a giveaway or offering a trial to interested potential customers in exchange for their feedback to get the ball rolling.
Remember also that reviews don’t have to be 100% positive to work either. By sharing honest feedback about a product’s weaker points, you create much greater trust than only showcasing glowing feedback that looks too good to be true.