6 Technology Trends for Small Business in 2021
Technology has played a crucial role in the day to day lives of many small businesses over the past 12 months, helping them thrive in the face of some incredibly tough challenges. More than ever before, small businesses are waking up to the potential new technologies have to solve problems, and create new opportunities for growth. With that in mind, we’ve put together some of the key technology trends to watch out for in 2021:
1. Hybrid & Remote Working
A little over 12 months ago, many of us were uprooted from our offices and sent home to set up impromptu work stations in living rooms, studies and kitchens. This massive shift in working patterns was made possible by cloud software and technology that allowed businesses to connect, collaborate and even talk remotely.
In 2021, hybrid working has been wholeheartedly adopted by businesses of all shapes and sizes. What’s more, the shift to this style of working has not only meant a massive increase in cloud investment, but an explosion in the availability and capabilities of cloud software being designed for small businesses. In short, this could mean more flexibility, fewer overheads and even more opportunities for growth.
2. Blockchain Technology
Blockchain is often most easily recognised as the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but it has a whole host of other uses that could transform the way businesses operate.
First and foremost, it’s status as an unalterable digital ledger makes it an incredibly secure way to process and record transactions, but the fact it provides secure end to end encryption means that cyber security and data storage could also become significantly faster and easier to manage. For small businesses, the security and scalability of Blockchain technology could remove many of the traditional growth barriers they face, particularly when it comes to loans and finance.
3. Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is becoming more and more accessible for small businesses, particularly when it comes to creating really unique marketing and customer experiences.
The fact that the latest smartphones are the perfect portal for an AR experience has meant that everything from social media to mobile games are now leveraging this tech wherever possible. For small businesses, augmented reality can be used to show off a new product in immersive detail, deliver a virtual tour of a new premises, or even create a truly unique social media marketing campaign. What’s more, with rumours of Apple Glasses arriving sometime in the next year, AR is looking set to become a key part of any digital experience.
4. Artificial Intelligence
Like augmented reality, artificial intelligence is one of those technologies that feels like it’s come straight out of a sci fi movie. In fact, large enterprises are increasingly relying on AI to streamline their day to day data, logistics and financial processes.
For smaller businesses however, AI is proving itself in a more customer focused environment. Chatbots on websites are now using this technology to deliver tailored customer service, whilst CRMs powered by AI can help you identify key sales trends and opportunities that you might otherwise miss. As AI becomes increasingly practical and accessible, it’s easy to see how small businesses will incorporate this technology into their digital strategies.
5. Ethical Hacking
Ethical hacking is a fairly established part of the cybersecurity industry in 2021, particularly for large enterprises. However, cyber crime is on the rise, with 46% of businesses reporting at least one attack in 2020. Even more worryingly, education and awareness around the tactics used by cyber criminals is significantly lower amongst senior management teams in smaller businesses than in medium or large enterprises1.
To help prevent businesses falling victim to criminals, ethical hackers test IT systems for flaws and exploits, helping to identify and shore up any holes before they’re targeted by someone else. From running mock phishing attacks to stress testing firewalls, ethical hacking is an efficient and highly effective method of ensuring your business is properly protected. For small businesses, who are often targeted as an ‘easy option’ by hackers, investing in a service like this could save you a lot of time and money down the line.
You might have already read our previous article discussing the benefits of 5G for small businesses, but 5G is one of the standout new technologies in 2021. As a growing number of cities and towns the UK get access to this next generation mobile network, what will it mean for small businesses?
In short, lightning fast mobile networks means you’ll be able to get more done, far more flexibly. Whether that means downloading and sharing large files on your mobile device in seconds, or making crystal clear voice and HD video calls, 5G is the technology that makes this possible. Additionally, 5G networks are powering the next generation infrastructure in cities, which could mean things like live traffic and travel updates on road signs and smart street lighting that adapts to weather conditions. In reality, the full potential of 5G is still only just beginning to be explored, which probably makes it one of the most exciting technology trends on this list!
We hope you enjoyed this latest article on digital best practices for small businesses post lockdown. For more insights and articles designed to help small businesses unlock their digital potential, you can visit our Insights hub.
 ‘3.2 Involvement of senior management’, Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/cyber-security-breaches-survey-2020/cyber-security-breaches-survey-2020