The Future of Small Business IT: Is Your Business In the Future?

I’m not a huge fan of studies that can predict that future, but I do respect those who try. Their job is to look at the past, analyze the present and do surveys to gain insight into the future. Based on all of this information, researchers try to provide a road map for the future.
In this case, Intuit, working with Institute for the Future found that tomorrow’s successful small business owners will be far more reliant on technology than their current counterparts.
They’ll be more connected in a mobile world, market to customers in ways only imagined today and blur the lines between the virtual and physical worlds as the hype surrounding today’s technology becomes tomorrow’s reality.
What’s happening to business is what is happening to our children. For example, my Mom, has only very recently been using computers, primarily email as a communication tool. One primary reason is because we are distant and she uses it to keep in touch with me and my siblings. She’s not used computers very much in the past.
I grew up (in the 80’s) when computers were thought of as special tools, but were used much more than our parent’s generation. Everyone didn’t have a computer, Word Perfect for DOS was the reigning champion and floppy disks (5 1/4″) were still important. 286 and 386 processors were in style.
My own children, from their birth, have been immersed in a culture of technology. My daughter, as a toddler was playing with my PDA as a baby. My son’s entertainment is watching NFL Video clips online, and he has his own football blog. See how the generations have changed in their use of technology?
Intuit’s study of the future, indicates that small businesses will go through a similar evolution in their own use of technology. The study reveals that technology will revolutionize the very nature of running a small business and identifies three emerging technology trends:
– On My Time, On My Terms – In a connected world, small business management will increasingly be “on my time” and “on my terms” for owners.
– Global, Local, Virtual – The evolution of the Web will fuel small business formation, operations and innovation.
– From “Push” to “Pull” – The small business marketing approach will shift from “push” to “pull.”
What does this mean to you?
Mobile Technology will be increasingly important as small business owners, their employers, their partners and their customers demand anytime-anywhere communication, collaboration and access to each other.
The mantra that the world is indeed flat is going to be an asset and a challenge for small businesses. In the past, going global was something that mainly big companies did. But now, thanks to technology, more and more small businesses are finding customers and competitors all over the globe. Technology is connecting New York and New Zealand and Russia to Rwanda.
Selection of specific information by recipients of this information is going to explode. We’ll always have direct mail and television, for example, which blasts a message to many. But using technologies such as RSS and Podcasts more and more small businesses and their customers will be able to specifically select what information they wish to receive. Traditional mass media will evolve to niche media and increasingly more smart and sophisticated customers.
If you’re small businesses is not using technology as a tool to grow your business, you are absolutely setup for failure in the future. Your competitors who are preparing themselves for the future are going to take your customers and your best employees.
You might still be in business 10 years from now, but you’ll find that competitors who are able to do more with less, maximize their resources and adapt to their changing customer base are going to be thriving small businesses of the future.