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Big changes for small business in 2016

At the beginning of the year, most businesses have an idea of what they want to achieve over the next twelve months. Using a recent piece of research among our O2 customers we looked a bit more closely at these business goals and we’ve identified several technology trends to get excited about for the rest of 2016.

Even though we’re just a quarter of the way through 2016, there have already been significant developments in the world of tech that will affect small businesses on a global scale. Both the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona have provided good indicators of which new products will dominate the small business landscape this year. We’ve combined these indicators with new results from a survey of O2 customers, which questions businesses on what they’ll be focusing on, to provide you with our predictions for 2016.

Become more efficient by using technology

42% of those who took part said that updating their technology software or hardware was one of their top goals for the year. And 71% of the people who were questioned said that their top priority this year was to become more efficient by introducing new technologies. Almost half of business customers want to update their technology to streamline processes, improve work performance, and make collaboration easier. These figures show that businesses are aware that there is always more to do when it comes to keeping up with tech, and that the appetite to do this is there. New products coming to market include the LG G5 modular phone, the 360 experience from Samsung Gear and the availability of VR technologies, with the first Oculus Rift being delivered at the end of March.

Use apps more

For years social media has been growing beyond the friend-to-friend interactions it was set up to improve. Brands and businesses now know that they will reap the rewards by providing customer service and interactions on channels such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. This is reflected in the report with 35% of customers looking to use social to reach new audiences and grow their customer base. In 2016 this is likely to increase even further, particularly with platforms such as Snapchat, Pinterest and WhatsApp. As well as promoting your business and improving customer service, you can also use apps for market research. One Pulse app, for example, allows businesses to set up surveys and questionnaires, quickly targeting them to a group of users, who all receive either a small fee or points for their account.

Improve payment processes

One of the biggest trends this year is the evolution of mobile payment. Cash-free methods have moved from online shopping with PayPal, through to contactless card payments, and more recently, mobile payments in the form of Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. 25% of businesses are looking to improve their efficiency in this area, with one small business owner stating that it will ‘make paying for things easier and more secure’. In terms of trends, mobile payments have one of the highest levels of interest from small businesses with 53% looking to find out more, only bettered by self-charging phones and biometric security. If you haven’t investigated the benefits this could bring to your business, 2016 is the year you should. More and more people are starting to rely solely on cashless payment, so in order to keep their custom, you may have to make the option available.

Consider transport options

Lastly, driverless cars are a technology that will definitely disrupt business when it is rolled out in the next few years. If you start planning how you may integrate it into your business now, you’ll be ahead of the curve when it becomes widely available. The sophisticated technology will be able to give you visibility of where your fleet is at all times, and provide your staff with more time to get jobs done during the journey.

There are plenty of exciting technologies on the horizon this year, and limitless opportunities for businesses to make the most of them. With faster equipment, more opportunities for remote working and more cloud-based software emerging at the same time, there’s never been a better moment to change the way your small business operates.

For free, impartial business tech help and advice, why not book a session with an O2 Guru? They’re available online, in store and over the phone.

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