Everywhere we look, we see personal and professional expectations for technology merging—we need to Slack the team from our own phone at a coffee shop or tweet the latest product release from our personal account. How many of us flow from the last email of the day seamlessly into the next episode of The Office?
And who knew this is how we would all work in 2019? The need for software companies to service this more fluid style of work is driving a wave of powerful, agile, and deeply personalized new business software. Combine this with cloud systems going mainstream, and now even smaller companies can adopt this software, delivering their employees tools they actually enjoy using.
Our advisors at Software Advice have helped more than 80,000 software buyers find the right system in 2019, and as general manager, I can see where small business tech is heading. Based on the trends we see from those conversations, here are three predictions that illustrate what small business technology could look like in 2020.
In 2020, you dictate how you work, not your software
Prediction: More than 80% of small businesses will use cloud technology in 2020, allowing them to use business apps similar to how they stream TV and music.
Right now, you can stream just that one song off the new Beck album on Spotify, video chat with your physician for a simple medication question, or create custom shoes featuring your dog’s face on Nike’s website. Software vendors are adapting to this new normal and lining up to develop similar on-demand experiences.
Historically, technology vendors have dictated the way the public uses their tools, but today they’re providing choose-what-you-need, add-as-you-grow packages. In fact, a third of all software purchased will be delivered, priced, and consumed as packaged applications within two years—a jump of nearly 30% from 2019.
The flexibility, low upfront cost, and low commitment of customizable cloud software will allow businesses to try a system then switch over to another system quickly—no need to cancel long contracts or deal with another on-premise implementation.
Just how fans group their favorite albums into a single playlist or cherry-pick HBO and Hulu out of several streaming platforms, business leaders in 2020 will be able to customize their suite of tools to create a deeply personalized and, ultimately, more efficient work experience.
Small business leaders can expect more flexible technology and software options tailored to their unique needs for functionality, pricing, and support.
Small businesses will double-down on data analytics in 2020
Prediction: 2020 is the first year the majority of U.S. small businesses will leverage big data for a significant business impact.
How long have businesses cowered at the words “Big Data”? Organizations know the data flowing from every corner of their company should be used for…something. That vague something promises everything.
Thanks to cloud-based tools (again), we no longer fear the data! The business intelligence and analytics tools large corporations have used for years are now affordable and can be adapted for any business, and businesses are ready to dive in.
In fact, our 2019 research into the top technology trends showed the number of small businesses planning to invest in BI doubled in the past two years, and they’re expected to spend more than $30,000 on analytics tools in 2020.
So what could a “significant impact” from analytics look like next year?
- Doctors’ offices will analyze patient records and predict no-shows to optimize appointment schedules.
- HR professionals will visualize turnover data to better understand retention problems and address the real issue.
- Manufacturing managers will leverage maintenance data and automate repairs to prevent machine failures before they occur, saving thousands of dollars.
These are simple data analytics use cases companies can roll out immediately. The sooner, the better because data-driven businesses will outpace everyone else in 2020.
Don’t waste two years on the software search
Prediction: Small businesses will save a full year in their software search in 2020 by leveraging third-party expertise and user reviews.
While business leaders need to implement technology quickly, evaluating and choosing from multiple similar systems takes time: According to our 2019 survey on small business buyer trends, it lasts about two years.
But in 2020, less time will be spent understanding how software can address a business need and more on selecting the right software with the appropriate features and price. Nearly 60% of companies will spend between three months to a year in this selection stage alone in 2020, with at least a few months spent reading online reviews, according to the buyer trend survey.
Why so long? Take CRM, the fastest growing software market in the world. Software Advice presents more than 650 unique CRM systems for buyers to review. Imagine whittling that number down alone!
Moving into the next decade, software buyers must lean on third-party expertise and reviews from real users to cut a year off their search, which will give them a head start on competitors.
Most buyers gather information from internal colleagues and IT teams first, but make your next conversation one with our advisors, who can narrow the list of hundreds of systems down to just five. Get the right system in a fraction of the time.
Pave your own technology path in 2020
2020 is the year small businesses take back control over how and how long they use software, as tech providers scramble to cater to new expectations. We’ve come to expect same-day shipping and feature films available to stream within days of their box office release; now software providers can deliver a similar experience for professionals with fully-featured, customizable cloud-based tools.
Small companies are able to adopt valuable software with very little commitment, use it as long as needed, then move to a different cloud service. And with help from Software Advice, you can get started with the right system at least a year earlier than your competition.
In 2020 and beyond, software providers will compete to provide better products and experiences as business leaders wield the power to tailor their technology how they want—presenting a new opportunity to more effectively serve customers and clients.
General Manager at Software Advice
Blake Clark is the General Manager of Software Advice, the leading online service for businesses navigating the software selection process. Blake has more than 15 years experience managing eCommerce businesses, leading product strategy, and customer experience across a diverse range of industries including gaming and hospitality. At Software Advice, he leads the company’s strategic vision and oversees day-to-day operations. In addition to running a 250-person team, he is a proud father to five kids ages 2 to 14. Blake is a graduate of Texas A&M University and the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.