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November 20, 2017
Here is the one constant when trying to predict information technology in 2018: It’s going to change.
There is a reason why technology has been called the great disruptor. The acceleration of tech has moved IT from our back office server rooms to the very heart of our business. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in – from insurance to automobiles, tech has catapulted to the forefront of a wide-open cloud-driven set of services.
The benefits for small business have been huge. Managed cloud services have allowed the smallest company to remain competitive as consumer’s demands have evolved.
We’ve been through a lot of change in the last few years. But what’s in store for 2018? What kinds of IT services for small businesses are expected to crop up next year?
IT Services for Small Business in 2018
According to Home Business magazine, there are more than 28 million small businesses in the U.S. Another 500,000 new businesses are launched every single month. The majority of new business ventures still fail, of course, but the difference from a decade ago is that there are a plethora of cloud-based software applications that help new companies remain competitive. Cloud services are still affecting big changes in the marketplace, and it’s clear that the technology, while stabilized, is still evolving.
One of the biggest breaks in the traditional business mold next year is that telecommuting will be the norm instead of an anomaly. Online project management software, data storage in the cloud, file sharing, and new collaboration tools will continue to allow remote workers to make an impact at work.
The benefit for small business is the reduced costs related to office maintenance. These companies can pull talent from virtually (pun intended) anywhere. This will require old-school insurance agencies to create new flexibility in management structures to accommodate the standardization of the telecommuting work model.
It’s a very safe prediction to suggest that cloud service models will continue to dominate the marketplace. From data management to umbrella office productivity solutions such as Microsoft 365, cloud software, infrastructure, and platforms will continue to corner the market.
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Video conferencing will become more commonplace in 2018, particularly as a way to engage dispersed teams. Virtual meetings, video training, and conferences are particularly useful for cash-strapped small businesses. As a marketing tool, video conferencing can allow potential clients to engage with a firm without having to commit travel funds.
The technology is also expected to continue to improve call quality, and many of these applications, such as Skype and Facebook Messenger will remain low-cost or free. Small insurance agents could expand their client base by offering free educational seminars for little to no cost to the agency.
Along the same lines, live video chat is a great way to engage customers who visit your website. Existing customers can ask questions of an agent live, instead of talking on the phone. Potential customers will be impressed with the quality of your service as they speak with you face-to-face. Traditionally, live online chat is tied to texting. In 2018, video chat will help agents read the body language of potential customers in addition to hearing the tone of voice.
2018 IT for Small Business
According to Insight, small business spending on IT is increasing. By using cloud technology to leverage services for small business, these costs remain tied to monthly subscription services. The days of high IT overhead are gone unless your agency remains committed to an on-premise solution. In 2018, many small to mid-sized insurance agencies are expected to migrate services to the cloud, making IT a more affordable, scalable, and flexible competitive option.
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