Small businesses IT priorities for 2021

Over the past nine months, SMBs have had to focus on creating fewer in-person connections with customers, rather than more. This is as a result of rapid digitalisation meaning businesses must adapt quickly to remain competitive.

The creation of secure remote work environments and the necessary adoption of cloud technology has led to mostly a smooth migration. As part of this transition, small businesses must consider several more priorities as they move into a new year:

artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology

Many small businesses across the UK will need to make up for lost productivity. With additional resources unlikely to materialise, low-cost AI is becoming increasingly more attractive to organisations.

Microsoft Azure offers affordable computer vision, face recognition, and conversational AI services – many of which are built-in to the business offerings. As technology continues evolve, SMBs should start to take greater advantage of these AI opportunities; customer support departments being an example.

An additional area Ai can impact a business is on logistics. Small retailers could utilise the technology to gain AI-driven insights from their data. Warehouses could better predict and prepare for demand fluctuations and delivery drivers could benefit from AI-driven knowledge regarding delivery routes. 

Data virtualisation technology

Businesses are looking to regain efficiency via data driven decisions. Tools like Microsoft Power BI can make data more accessible and actionable. Simple dashboards of customer and sales data enable analyses which ultimately help SMBs focus on the aspects that will have the most impact.

Cloud collaboration and calling solutions

Microsoft Teams usage increased by 70% to 75 million active users in April, mainly due to the mass shift to home working, but since offices have gradually began to re-open ,Teams has continued consistent growth. As of October 2020, its daily active users had reached 115 million.

A lot of this growth may be attributed to a shift in mindset, predominantly by smaller businesses. As organisations realise the capabilities and efficiency of cloud-based communication, they become open to investing in those solutions long-term. In addition to efficiency, cloud solutions like Microsoft Teams and Teams Calling solutions, offer flexibility in both in costs and global calling requirements – perfect for SMBs who want to start small and scale. 

Streamlining remote onboarding 

Even with the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines underway, SMBs will continue to work remotely until government guidance suggests otherwise. Though organisations have been onboarding remotely for years, the pandemic has increased the volume of workers than need to be brought online in a short period. As a result, it’s now time for SMBs to prioritise the creation of a remote onboarding strategy today.

Check out our previous blog.

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