November 20, 2017 –

In October Microsoft surveyed over 1300 small business owners to gain insight into the trends we’ll be seeing in 2018. And there were a couple of surprises. Here we’ll share our take on the results, and showcase what we believe are the top 5 most important tech trends to be aware of as we turn the corner into next year.

#5 – Keeping up with Technology is a Top Concern

Top tech challenge for small biz in 2018 is staying ahead of technology change, with nearly have of the established business owners surveyed picking this as the top concern.  And there’s no arguing that technology is rapidly changing the business landscape.  But in some ways, new technology innovation is leveling the playing field for small businesses as they go up against their larger competitors.

#4 – In-person Contact Still Dominates

The most dominant communication form is still in-person contact, with email and text messaging further down on the list.  Fifty-one percent of small business owners indicated that in-person communication is still their “go-to” form.  This one felt like a bit of a surprise, but for a small business, having personal and engaging direct communication with your customers could be a unique differentiator in the market and is often a key part of the value proposition. From a tech trends perspective, in our own experience we’re also seeing more and more small businesses beginning to rely on text messaging for communicating to their employees, suppliers and customers.

#3 – Younger Businesses Rely Heavily on Mobile Devices

Managing your work from a mobile device is a trend that continues to rise.  Younger businesses (those in business for less than one year) are more likely to have employees working primarily from mobile devices compared to their established counterparts.  Approximately 2/3 of those businesses indicated that at least some of their employees are using mobile devices as their main technology for their job.  In general, the respondents were very mobile.  Rather than the traditional office, they are working from multiple locations and from home.

#2 – Small Businesses Are Underprepared and Concerned about Cybersecurity Threats

Small business owners feel underprepared for cybersecurity threats, with half of respondents indicating they’re concerned about a data breach.  And they have every right to be concerned.  43% of cyber-attacks happen to small businesses. And attacks are on the rise.  For more information on how to protect your business, check out our Threat Management page.

#1 – Too Many Small Businesses are Doing Nothing to Protect Themselves

As we write this tech trends article for 2018, this is the one which came as a surprise to us. And it’s also the most important. When we begin working with a new client one of the first things we put in place is a robust plan for Data Security.  Yet according to the Microsoft survey, many small businesses, a whopping 25%, say they are doing nothing to protect themselves from cyber security threats.  Why is this so concerning? As we mentioned, 43% of attacks happen to small businesses.  And for those experiencing a major data breach, 60% go out of business within six months.*

For those who are taking action, 70 percent have indicated that they would prefer to partner with experts in the area of cyber security rather than trying to go it alone.  For those companies, 30% are using encryption software, which can help protect the data on your machines if they are lost or stolen.  Almost 40% have their employees using some form of anti-virus software on their machines.

For more information on how to improve your data security please visit the data security section of our website.  You can also download the “Data Security: Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Business” whitepaper.