As technology continues to evolve, it brings not only new products but also new ways of doing business and new expectations from customers. A recent survey, the Intuit Future of Small Business Report
, undertaken by Intuit, working with the Institute for the Future, identified some key trends. Here is an overview of some of their conclusions:
- Technology will revolutionize the very nature of running a small business. Entrepreneurs will be more connected than ever via mobile communications, and will be able to target and market to customers in ways we can’t even imagine today.
- In tomorrow’s world, mobile technology and improved connectivity will give business owners more flexibility in running their business. It is not difficult to see that increased connectivity can boost productivity and provide flexibility, but it will also continue to blur the demarcation between work and home life.
- The further evolution of the Web is expected to accelerate the start-up of more small businesses, enabling them to operate in global as well as local markets. More and more we will operate in a “virtual” world where we communicate, network, and interact via the Internet.
- The Internet has provided consumers (individual as well as corporations) with access to an unprecedented amount of information. Increasingly potential buyers are doing their market/shopping research online, seeking third-party endorsement before evaluating product information and claims provided by companies. This is creating a marketing world that is “pull” rather than a “push”. Consumers want to be informed – not “sold”. What does this mean to business owners? It suggests that companies must participate in this informational exchange via a variety of tools including: Web cast publicity, podcasts, blogging, and involvement in “informational” web sites. Traditional media won’t go away overnight, but it is increasingly important for business owners to evaluate niche media that target very specific audience segments.
- Vendors also can take advantage of the “information reach” of the Internet to get valuable feed-back and to listen to their customers.
- Help is only a click away. Networking and social interaction is made fast, easy and inexpensive by the Internet. Experts note that there is a discernable trend towards peers helping peers.In addition to traditional sources of help for small businesses, technology companies like Dell, Intuit, and service providers like Plaxo and Ryze provide sites and services that enable entrepreneurs to get real-life answers fast.
Technology is an important factor in your business’s ability to grow and thrive. Your ability to respond to customers’ changing expectations, to stay current, to adopt new marketing ideas, and selectively add new communications technology to support your firm’s business growth will be vital to your continued success.