SMEs of 2020: 5 Business Trends for the New Year

With 2020 in sight, the new year represents a fresh start for businesses of the UK (after what may feel like a never-ending stretch of economic uncertainty). In order to embrace innovation, drive growth and remain as competitive as possible, entrepreneurs can look forward to a productive and profitable new year by taking note of the top trends predicted to impact businesses – both up and down the nation and across the globe. Read on for what promises to be the start of an exciting and eventful new decade for SMEs.

When a phone call or email isn’t always possible, the solutions AI can often provide as an alternative in 2020.

1. The rise of AI

From the transformation of customer service to ironing out administrative processes, AI and machine learning continue on their trajectory towards creating a more efficient and productive era for SMEs. While personalisation continues to play a significant role in ensuring an authentic customer experience, client demands have also indicated the need for round-the-clock, instantaneous answers when a phone call/email isn’t always possible – thus the solutions AI can often provide as an alternative. As opposed to being deployed as a direct replacement, chatbots are enhancing the service SMEs can offer to their customers by providing answers to common questions (reducing waiting times as a result), resolving queries and complaints, or simply pointing them in the right direction. Where internal tasks are concerned, cloud technology such as accounting software Xero is using machine learning to evolve its offering, whether enabling users to identify and collect documentation in one single location, speeding up both the invoicing and payment process, or the extraction of PDF bill details into Xero via its ‘email-to-bills’ feature.

2. The power of user reviews

With companies acknowledging the demand for a more streamlined user experience, the way in which customers respond will continue to hold sway over business growth – in the form of the humble review. SMEs can wield these positive experiences to their advantage by making it part of their best practice to request feedback – no matter how small the project or transaction – to be fed into new testimonials. Not only can these live as case studies on a company website, but such observations can also be condensed and used as part of wider marketing collateral – from leaflets to social content. Also to be encouraged is direct feedback to specialist tradesman review platforms, to Google reviews and individuals should make the most of LinkedIn’s recommendations function. As competition rises and customers continue to seek the very best options for their needs (particularly where online products are concerned), positive user reviews can reassure prospective clients that they are making the right decision, enhancing an SME’s credibility in the most genuine way possible. For businesses with smaller budgets, word of mouth can still count for so much.

Remote working will continue to gain traction in 2020 as a necessary component to futureproofing any type of business.

3. The transition to remote working

Remote working, whether you’ve yet to trial it or not, continues to gain traction as a necessary component to futureproofing any type of business. What’s more, the departure from the traditional 9-5 works both ways – serving as an attractive proposition to new candidates while allowing SMEs to hire the very best talent with no restrictions in place. For employees, the option of remote working (even if just a few days a month) offers them increased flexibility and an improved work-life balance, thus having a positive impact on their everyday drive and future performance. For start-ups in particular, remote working also provides new pathways to growing a young team, minus the hefty infrastructure costs involved with hiring a premises in the early days of set-up. Thanks to the ongoing evolution of business communication – from conference call facilities to integrated messaging and management platforms – ‘working from home’ doesn’t always mean employees left to their own devices, giving businesses improved visibility over their teams, wherever they choose to be.

4. The move towards big data

No longer the domain of larger corporations eager to learn more about customer trends, behaviours and buying patterns, enhanced access to big data can empower SMEs to make better strategic decisions. While this may seem a daunting (and potentially costly) prospect, there are effective, affordable ways smaller companies can harness big data to widen their understanding of the bigger picture. Firstly, business owners should decide on a set of aims before drilling down into this insight; do they want to learn more about their customers so as to improve the user journey accordingly? Do they want to market themselves more efficiently, and thus save time and money on this particular activity? Once having established these targets, there are a number of software options available to help steer such goals in the right direction – from starting small with free platform Google Analytics to a more comprehensive view with ClearStory Data. Dependent on size and budget, SMEs should approach the use of big data as a journey of ‘test and learn’ in order to unlock its true potential.

The adoption of 5G also enhances the use of further innovations – such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and the Internet of Things (IoT)

5. The dawn of 5G

While the long-awaited arrival of 5G has continued to capture the attention of the UK business sector, what does it really mean for SMEs? In a world where communication is key, 5G has the ability to transform the way businesses operate, providing crystal-clear, instantaneous interactions from all corners of the globe – and not to mention average download speeds of 1Gbps. Not only could this radically improve productivity rates, but the adoption of 5G also enhances the use of further innovations – such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and the Internet of Things (IoT) – as they too evolve to better serve the small business community, advancing the start-ups of tomorrow. Automatically improving a company’s resilience and competitive edge, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the power of 5G and how it can propel the up-and-coming SME into 2020 and beyond.

Adams Moore understands the everyday strain of running a small business. That’s why with the right solutions in place, we’re able to support SMEs on their path to growth by alleviating time-consuming tasks – from flexible payroll support to bookkeeping and accounting. Get your new year off to a fresh start by coming in to our Tamworth offices for a free new client one-hour consultation and see how we could support you.