Small Business Technology Trends for 2017

Note: This article was filed by a paid contributor to Xerox Corporation.

Remaining current with business technology innovations is one way small businesses compete and set themselves apart from the competition. Once upon a time, of course, only the largest companies could afford to regularly take advantage of new technology offerings, which is why they were always in the best position to reap the rewards of market growth and spending.

Xerox makes new business technologies available to small and mid-sized companies (SMBs) thanks to innovations that include cloud-based software solutions, subscription models and mobile technology. Always keeping the SMB market in mind, Xerox recognizes that smaller companies have historically been unable to compete with large competitors simply because of a lack of capital for large overhead investments. Those companies can take advantage of technology trends that allow them to offer the same options, features and engagement to customers and employees alike.

The following are four business technology trends SMBs should consider implementing to remain competitive with larger organizations:

Automatic Translation Expands Markets

The Internet and cloud computing has globalized the world to the point that even free market visionaries could not have predicted ten years ago. Businesses now can sell to customers in places such as Latin America or Southeast Asia as easily to people who live near the company’s headquarters. The same goes for suppliers and partnerships. One area that has continued to slow down global business is language barriers. This has changed thanks to automatic translation technology from Xerox.

While professional translators won’t go out of business any time soon, automatic translation has reached the point where language is no longer a barrier for most global commerce. Services such as Xerox® Easy Translator enables businesses have office documents automatically translated into local languages.  Automatic translation has almost completely wiped away the language barrier for business transactions, making Xerox Easy Translator a huge boost for businesses with global ambitions.

Enterprise Content Management

Nearly every business is looking for a better way to manage their paper and digital content. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) streamlines the entire process from creation to retention to transformation by enabling users to capture, store and share documents either on-site or through the cloud. Time-consuming, document-heavy processes like accounts payable, HR onboarding, contract management and mortgage processing become simpler and more efficient thanks to the magic of automation.

ECM is now easier to integrate than ever before, thanks to the new DocuShare 7 from Xerox. This intuitive and flexible ECM platform provides any organization with the tools and flexibility they need to begin boosting productivity and improving worker efficiency from day one. Docushare makes it easy to streamline workflows – especially paper heavy processes – because each employee can customize it to their personal style of work. You can even customize it to your business with your own branding and graphics. Integrating Docushare helps you to speed up activities like uploading and downloading thanks to productivity features such as web drag-and-drop, and instant downloading of files to a zip file for data sharing and collaboration.

You can even take your content with you anywhere you go with the DocuShare Content Management Platform which gives you web-based access to create, view and search content, as well as security protocols and encryption to keep it safe. With Xerox Mobile Client for DocuShare, you can even retrieve, edit and share content on the go, so you can work better, and faster.

Big Data for Everyone

Today, most companies collect more data than they can handle. Thanks to “Big Data” technologies, they will be able to take the jumbled information they have and turn it into actionable intelligence. In 2017, SMBs will have better access to analytics platforms via cloud services to put a handle on all the information they collect and use it to improve their processes.

The inputting of data into those applications has also undergone a fundamental shift.  Web Capture Service is the only solution that automates and scans a document in just three steps for immediate use without creating files, renaming documents and importing them into an application. It can be used with any scanner regardless of brand and works with most web applications such as Microsoft Office 365, QuickBooks, Salesforce, SAP, Concur and many more, so you can input your data for analysis.

Telecommuting Goes Mainstream

Tech companies have proved that telecommuting works. We no longer live in a world in which managers need to micromanage their employees under the same roof. The millennial generation is attracted to flexible work schedules and remote working. As this generation has overtaken Baby Boomers in numbers, it will be increasingly important for companies to offer telecommuting, and 2017 is likely to be the year in which it reaches critical mass.

This is one area in which SMBs may have an advantage over large enterprises: with fewer employers to manage, the process becomes easier. For SMBs, the implications are significant: it’s not just about retaining workers and having access to global talent pool, but it can also be about saving significant overhead on office infrastructure and utilities. All that’s needed is a good communications collaboration platform such as Slack or Skype for Business.

“From an employer’s perspective, generally speaking, it makes for happier employees and happier employees are generally more productive,” Robert Palmer, a spokesman for telecommuter-friendly WestJet Airlines, told the Huffington Post last year.

To fully take advantage of this trend, businesses need both a mental shift and a process shift. Firms need to stop worrying about the geographic location of their employees, and 24/7 oversight. They also must put in place business processes such as mobile printing that allow remote workers to easily interface with office resources. Technologies such as Xerox Mobile Print enables workers to print to office printers easily from their mobile phones or email.

These are only a few of the new trends that will help small businesses remain competitive in 2017. Is your company ready for them?

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