Cloud, mobility, unification drives SMB changes in 2013

    Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) always fight to say on the cusp of innovation due to the ongoing need to remain competitive with rival enterprises, many of which possess more experience and resources needed to adapt to technological transformations. In 2012, several major trends began to take shape in the SMB landscape and will forever change how small companies operate on a regular basis.

    A recent report by j2 Global highlighted these occurrences, noting that the emergence of the cloud, the adoption of mobile devices and the need for interoperable systems held the most weight in 2012 and will continue to disrupt operations going into 2013.

    Cloud computing changes everything

    In the past, enterprises were widely credited for adopting the cloud, as it was traditionally believed that only organizations with substantial volumes of data could truly benefit from the technology. Because of the advent of big data, however, small organizations are beginning to recognize the potential of using hosted services. According to j2 Global, roughly two-thirds of SMBs will migrate to the cloud in 2013.

    As cloud technologies proliferate, new services are emerging. While the cloud's primary utility used to be storage, communications are quickly making their way to the environments, as hosted phone systems become more commonplace in the corporate setting, j2 Global reported.

    The mobile metamorphosis

    The ongoing development of the cloud is driving the use of mobile gadgets in the workplace and supporting the adoption of bring your own device (BYOD). As this continues to happen, j2 Global predicts SMBs will be smarter about how they use mobile solutions, leveraging smartphones and tablets beyond the realm of traditional communications. As a result, the remote worker will become more prevalent.

    This was highlighted in a report by IDC, which showed that the rapid growth of the mobile workforce stems from the widespread adoption of versatile mobile devices in the private sector.

    "Despite recent market turmoil, mobility continues to be a critical part of the global workforce and we expect to see healthy growth in the number of mobile workers," said Stacy Crook, senior research analyst for IDC's mobile enterprise research program. "Our forecast shows that the worldwide mobile worker population will increase from just over 1 billion in 2010 to more than 1.3 billion by 2015."

    Unify everything

    As SMBs become smarter about their use of the cloud and mobile gadgets, IT executives will also grow more familiar with unified communications, which consolidates collaborative tools under a single umbrella. The report by j2 Global said SMB decision-makers will begin to integrate multiple systems together to eliminate disconnectedness in the office. In doing so, organizations will be able to increase revenue by delivering better service and reduce costs by decreasing maintenance expenses associated with managing disparate applications.

    In 2013, the private sector will continue to move forward. SMBs will play a major role in the development of the corporate world, as executives continue to deploy mobile strategies, cloud initiatives and completely unified systems.

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