Smart software has also helped SMEs prioritise and protect what information is viewed by relevant people regardless of location, making ecommerce and mcommerce a competitive reality.
So long as information is delivered in a meaningful format that is quick to access, easy to view and efficient to use, the back office responsibilities of reliability and security are all too often assumed.
Responsibility for data integrity and protection will increasingly fall to the small business and its technology partners.
Today, data within small businesses still tends to be siloed and locked down, as software and systems are purchased in a standalone way by individuals or specialist teams who look after a function like payroll or marketing.
But to be effective in unlocking true business potential and aid growth, technology needs to be integrated so that it can provide accurate insights in real time.
But with so much business critical information digitised and available beyond the walls of the workplace, small business owners will want the freedom to choose where to host their data and how to protect it – locally, in the cloud, or most likely a combination of the two.
By digitising information and giving users a choice of how they access and analyse that shared data, technology will make more use of the rich information that exists within organisations.
Traditionally untapped insights will provide new opportunities for SMEs to drive competitive advantage and performance beyond divisional and geographic borders.
While business software enables small firms to realise the full value of their digital business intelligence, social networks will increasingly be used to help organisations identify new markets and engage new audiences on an unlimited scale.
But technology will never fully replace people’s fundamental need for social interaction and the role of a physical workplace – be it an office or a business community hub.
Small business owners are, and always will be, very pragmatic about their choice of technology, as what matters ultimately is getting the job done in the most timely and accurate way.
The opportunity to buy software as a service (SaaS) has created, amongst other benefits, more flexible payment options for SMEs, whilst the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablet devices has created an environment where entrepreneurs are used to snacking on apps and services.
No matter how individuals and organisations choose to consume their technology, their expectations for customer support and advice will remain high.
Those technology partners that offer 24/7 telephone support and a choice of online support tools will set new standards for how small businesses can rely on software and services and realise their full potential.