The US’s small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) demonstrate remarkable optimism and resilience. Despite economic uncertainties and challenges, you remain confident about your future.
According to Sage’s annual survey of almost 12,0000 business leaders globally, a third of US SMBs reported being “very confident” about their business status. This sentiment of confidence surpassed the global average of 26%.
There’s a strong correlation between emerging technology investments and business confidence. A significant 39% of US SMBs pinpoint successful tech adoption as a primary reason behind their optimism, which stood notably higher than the global average of 32%.
Tech investment is a key driver of productivity and growth
Technology is not just functional—it’s transformative.
You’re not only using technology for day-to-day operations. You’re using it as a strategic asset to drive growth, foster resilience, and navigate uncertainty.
Technology will help you stay competitive, resilient, and forward-thinking—encouraging innovators and economic contributors.
You’re willing to put the money in.
An encouraging 63% of US SMBs revealed plans to accelerate their tech investments even further, exceeding the global average of 53%.
And this confidence will continue.
38% of US SMBs predict they will retain this high confidence level towards the success of their business by the end of 2023.
In the wake of this trend, let’s look at the transformative potential of top emerging technologies highlighted in the research.
SMBs across the US embrace 5G, with 41% planning to deploy it in the coming years.
If you haven’t already, look at 5G as an opportunity to improve connectivity speed, improve customer experience, support remote work, and even drive down costs.
What is 5G, and why is it a big leap in connectivity?
5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology, which can give your business a significant leap forward in speed, capacity, and reliability.
With data transfer rates surpassing previous generations, 5G could offer faster communication, seamless streaming, and download speeds reaching up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps). You can transfer large files in seconds, supporting efficient collaboration and data sharing.
5G could also help you provide improved customer experiences, more convenience, and better engagement. Imagine seamless video conferencing and immersive metaverse experiences thanks to lag-free streaming and real-time interaction.
So, what’s the advantage of 5G? 5G technology operates on higher frequency bands than 3 or 4G, incorporating advanced techniques to enhance network performance. 5G could help you use the full potential of connected devices and artificial intelligence (which we’ll discuss further).
5G can support more effective remote work
With remote work increasingly common, 5G can drive productivity.
5G has low latency and high bandwidth, which means you get faster and more reliable connections enabling your remote workers to participate in virtual meetings, access cloud-based applications, and collaborate as if they were in the same physical location.
5G can drive down costs
With its increased capacity, 5G can handle a higher volume of data traffic, reducing the need for costly infrastructure upgrades.
You can see the cost benefits of 5G with “edge computing”—a way of computer processing where data is generated nearby instead of being sent to a central server.
Because 5G offers low latency (the time it takes for data to travel between devices of networks), you can near real-time communication between a device and an edge server close to where the data is generated.
Think of a smart doorbell. Audio and video data doesn’t have to go to a remote server for processing when someone rings it. With edge computing, the smart doorbell analyzes and processes that data locally.
The low latency and responsiveness of 5G lets you efficiently deploy edge computing solutions, where data processing and analysis take place closer to the source, minimizing transmission costs.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
31% of US SMBs plan to incorporate AI into their operations. They recognize that AI has the potential to revolutionize their processes, elevate customer experiences, and drive growth.
AI is a tool for intelligent automation
AI is the branch of computer science that empowers machines to simulate human intelligence. It encompasses various technologies, such as machine learning and natural language processing. AI systems can learn from data, recognize patterns, and make informed decisions or predictions.
Automating repetitive tasks boosts productivity
AI can streamline operations by automating repetitive tasks. With AI as your co-pilot, you could optimize workflows, eliminate bottlenecks, and unlock unparalleled efficiency.
Imagine the time you could save by automating your routine administrative tasks with AI-powered systems, such as data entry, appointment scheduling, or email filtering.
By offloading time-consuming, error-prone, and labor-intensive tasks, you significantly increase productivity, allowing employees to allocate their time and energy towards more value-added activities.
Enhancing customer service through AI-powered chatbots
AI-powered chatbots have revolutionized the customer experience by providing instant, personalized, round-the-clock support.
Chatbots can handle common customer queries, provide product recommendations, and even process transactions. You can increase customer satisfaction, nurture relationships, and create memorable experiences that foster loyalty and drive growth.
Unleashing the power of data analysis with AI
Data lies at the heart of every successful business decision. AI extracts valuable insights and helps drive data-led strategies. You can process vast volumes of data, identify patterns, and uncover hidden trends that your human analysts may miss.
By tapping into this analytical prowess, you can make more informed decisions, optimize processes, and gain a competitive edge.
AI in action
Consider Sage customer Forecast, which uses AI in its project management software to generate better project plans, manage diverse project types, and monitor costs effectively.
By analyzing historical project data, Forecast software uses AI to offer predictions for task durations, resource requirements, and role assignments while adapting to different project-management methodologies.
Machine learning models can assess capacity for new work, project the potential impact of planned projects, and suggest when new hires might be needed.
You’ll even get an AI-driven financial overview of projects, predicting revenue sources, cost factors, and profitability based on past data.
Our research said 23% of US SMBs are open to using cryptocurrency.
They see the potential to differentiate, positioning as forward-thinking and technologically advanced, attracting a younger, more tech-savvy demographic. Millennials and Gen Z appreciate the convenience, security, and innovative nature of digital currencies.
The digital currency revolution
Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that operates independently of a central bank. It uses cryptography, a secure form of encryption, to secure transactions and control the creation of new units.
Unlike traditional currencies, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are decentralized, meaning any single entity or government does not control them.
This decentralized nature, combined with blockchain technology, ensures transparency, immutability, and security in financial transactions.
Lower transaction fees
Cryptocurrency transactions often carry significantly lower fees compared to traditional payment systems. By accepting cryptocurrencies, you can save on transaction costs, maximizing revenue and profitability.
Cryptocurrency transcends geographical boundaries, allowing you to tap into a global customer base. With cryptocurrency, you can easily accept customer payments worldwide, expanding your market reach and creating new revenue streams.
Overcoming barriers to technology adoption
There are common challenges you may encounter when trying to adopt new technologies.
SMBs often operate with limited financial resources, making it challenging to invest in new technologies. The upfront costs of purchasing hardware, software licenses, and training can be daunting.
You may also be concerned about the potential return on investment (ROI) and the risk of adopting new systems.
Integrating new technologies with existing systems can be complex and time-consuming.
Compatibility issues, data migration, and employee training can pose significant challenges and disrupt business operations.
You could encounter resistance to change from employees accustomed to established workflows.
Practical steps to overcome barriers
Here are 8 tips to help you overcome the barriers you may face.
Research and planning:
- Conduct thorough research to understand the potential benefits of adopting specific technologies and calculate the potential ROI.
- Identify technologies that align with your business goals and priorities.
- Develop a detailed implementation plan, including a budget and timeline, to mitigate risks and ensure a smooth transition.
Collaborate with technology partners
- Engage with technology vendors or consultants who specialize in working with SMBs. They can provide expertise and guidance tailored to your business needs.
- Seek demonstrations, request references, and compare pricing options to find a technology partner that aligns with your budget and long-term goals.
Employee training and change management
- Prepare your team for the changes that come with technology adoption.
- Offer comprehensive training programs to educate employees on how to use new technologies effectively.
- Provide clear communication about the benefits and expected outcomes of the technology adoption, addressing any concerns and emphasizing the positive impact on work and the business.
Seek external support
Take advantage of government initiatives that could support your technology adoption journey.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a range of resources and programs that can support SMBs in overcoming technology adoption barriers. These include:
Explore loan programs tailored for SMBs, such as the SBA 7(a) loan program, which funds businesses to invest in technology upgrades.
Business training and workshops
Attend SBA-sponsored training sessions and workshops that guide technology adoption and other areas, such as cybersecurity and digital marketing.
SBA online learning
Take advantage of the SBA’s online learning platform, with free educational resources and courses to help you navigate any technology adoption challenges.
Using emerging technologies is no longer a luxury but a necessity for SMBs to stay competitive, foster growth, and navigate constant change.
With the transformative potential of technologies like 5G, AI, and cryptocurrency, you can unlock new opportunities, enhance operations, and secure a brighter future.
Thrive in an ever-evolving business landscape with confidence and the right strategic tech investments.
Editors note: This article was first published in August 2023 and has since been updated for relevance.
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