Technology continues to revolutionise small business, and to help make sense of the fast changing landscape, we hear from Xero’s Third Party Application (Apps) Partners who are also leaders in the small business technology industry on what they think lies ahead.
Branding and Marketing
Facebook advertising costs will rise, along with the need to personalise customer experience
Facebook advertising costs will go up. It’s economics 101. More SMBs want to use it, and ad space is limited, which means rising costs. That’s according to BigCommerce.
They also believe that while Facebook Advertising will grow but it is also equally important to look to personalisation for better the customer experience. This includes personalisation and localisation as brands must look to new tactics to make their customer experience a differentiator. For example, local SEO, proper email segmenting, on-site customer segmentation and personalised customer service will be ever important to making sure you are remembered and not another brand.
Small businesses will need improve data security
From data breaches to natural disasters, data security is paramount to small businesses. Small businesses need to take steps to secure their information in case of disaster and this is where accountants and bookkeepers can play a key role.
This starts with moving your accounting records to a secure cloud platform such as Xero. This enables you to easily maintain your audit records by snapping your receipts and invoices with an app and also includes adding 2-step verification to your email accounts and using a password manager to generate and store secure passwords.
Open Banking will become a powerful way for businesses to get paid
GoCardless predicts that open banking will usher a new era for bank-to-bank payments, making it the most powerful way for small businesses to get paid.
Until now, banks have been the sole owners of financial data like account balance or payment history, with Open Banking, small businesses will be able to tell their banks to share relevant data with app providers such as GoCardless, allowing us to make payments that are ‘smarter’ (e.g. could be triggered when money is in your customer’s account), faster, more secure and less likely to fail. And for small businesses, that will mean better cash flow and less time chasing payments.
Machine learning will automate the back office
A trend that’s on just about everyone’s radar for 2018 is machine learning – but how will this impact small businesses? It’s clear that accounting software is going to continue to embrace machine learning capabilities. These developments will enable faster and more accurate document coding and data extraction, as well as the automation of complex, repetitive, and time-consuming processes.
Machine learning will help to automate the small business back office and perform much of the heavy lifting associated with financial management. This will increase accuracy and efficiency in financial reporting, as well as move us closer to real-time financials. Having the capability to make informed business decisions in real-time will be a huge win for small businesses.
Big data will become truly accessible to small business
Big data will continue to move from being the preserve of the big businesses and corporates to truly being accessible to small business owners and advisors.
Xero reports provide one layer of insight already, but the Xero API has been a game-changer that allows the likes of Spotlight Reporting to empower accountants and CFO’s to give reports, forecasts and more to business owners globally. The extent and quality of data is growing fast whilst unit costs are falling – this is ‘democratising’ access and putting it in reach of all businesses in an affordable and easy-to-consume way.
Small businesses will surpass big corporations as the best places to work
As technology becomes more accessible, it will also make it easier for small businesses to offer employees flexibility such as remote working, and perks that on par with bigger corporations. Small businesses can leveraging technology to offer comprehensive benefits to employees where previously this was not possible.
The rise of artificial intelligence will lead to better decision making
We see a rise in artificial intelligence (AI) which will change how businesses can get insights and make smarter decisions according to Vend.
In retail, this means more artificial intelligence is being integrated into back-end systems, which can provide retailers with real-time tips and advice based on their current sales data and activity. Suggestions such as running customer promotions or reordering popular stock.
Governments will provide incentives for small businesses to adopt cloud technology
Xero research shows that 87% of small and medium businesses in Singapore use business productivity software. This is one of the highest rates in the world and reflects ongoing government support for small business.
Around the world, governments recognise that a vibrant small business sector is the backbone to a healthy economy, but many business owners are slow to adopt tools that generate efficiencies and growth. We expect to see more governments provide incentives to drive technology adoption, and ultimately productivity growth, in the small business economy.
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This article is an extract from the Xero website and is written in general terms and therefore cannot be relied on to cover specific situations; application of the principles set out will depend upon the particular circumstances involved and we recommend that you obtain professional advice before acting or refraining from acting on any of its contents.