With the new year firmly in place, small business owners need to be aware of the major trends likely to impact their companies, including the rise of cloud computing, shifting demographics and the importance of alternative lending. Without keeping track of these emerging trends, many owners can be left in the dust and end up losing their competitive edge, which can spell disaster.
Cloud computing and security
While they haven’t completely gone the way of the dodo, on-premise IT servers are increasingly becoming a relic of the past. Instead, many companies are increasingly opting to use cloud-based systems to host, store, aggregate and analyze their important and sensitive data, Small Business Computing reported.
“The cloud is poised to overtake on-premises deployment in 2016 in areas such as collaboration, file sharing, and marketing automation,” explained SMB Group Co-Founder and Analyst Laurie McCabe.
There are many benefits to incorporating a cloud-based system for the company. For starters, it greatly increases the technical expertise for these systems while simultaneously reducing the need for the company to keep a dedicated IT staff on the payroll. With technology constantly updating and requiring regularly upgrades, moving to a cloud-based system eliminates the need for a small business to keep up with these changes since the service provider will now be responsible for that.
In addition, another main driver for companies migrating their data away from in-house servers and into cloud-based systems involves the increased role of cybersecurity. It seems like every day a new story breaks about a data breach at a company, no matter their size. Cybercriminals are targeting small, medium and large businesses with advanced malware, ransomware and viruses in an attempt to steal data, collect money and ultimately ruin a company’s credibility amongst their client base. Since those IT companies that provide cloud-based servers make it their priority to protect this sensitive data, many owners are choosing to forego spending the added cost to secure their information and are instead leaving this up to the providers.
The age demographic with the most market influence right now is the millennial cohort. The 83.1 million people born between 1982 and 2000 outranks baby boomers as the largest group born into a single generation, and their tastes and preferences are having a major impact on a majority of the major industries in the country. Not only will these individuals constitute a majority of the workforce in the coming years, but their spending habits will also dictate how business will be conducted.
For instance, as noted in AllBusiness, millennials are entering the average age for getting married, which is 27 for women and 29 for men. This will greatly impact the $79 billion wedding industry that encompasses a major swath of industries including caterers, florists, bakeries, restaurants, banquet halls, beauty salons, jewelers, stationary, hospitality and many more. Small business owners looking to capture this burgeoning sector must ensure they are tech savvy, since a whopping 93 percent of this generation uses online resources to plan their wedding while 61 percent utilize a mobile device for doing so.
Alternative lending options
One of the fastest growing trends for 2016 is the use of alternative lending to help grow small and medium-sized businesses. These online lenders provide quicker, small loans via a simple, easy-to-understand application process. As noted in Business News Daily, many alternative financiers will approve the loan and supply this crucial capital in less than 24 hours. With such quick access to important funding options, small business owners can take the steps necessary to reach the next company milestone, whether that includes hiring more employees, purchasing additional inventory or entering a new market.