Mobile & Cloud, Top Trends for 2013

As the new year approaches, its time for small and medium-sized businesses to start getting connected to their customers in the cloud, as well as on mobile devices, according to a new trends report from cloud services solution provider j2 Global.

In compiling its report, the company found that mobility, cloud expansion and integrated business services will be "the three key trends that SMBs must be ready for in 2013."

2011 saw a massive boon in smartphone sales - so much so that the mobile devices actually outsold PCs that year. That trend continued this year, and in 2013, j2 Global foresees companies getting more mobile-savvy, with mobile "tools" spanning industries, generations and job types and being leveraged for more than just basic communication needs. 

j2 Global also points out that while many SMBs have long used smartphones and/or tablets for email and Web browsing, they must now start incorporating a wider array of other mobile business apps to increase their ability to stay connected and available and improve productivity. This can include workflow apps like mobile faxing or communication applications for VoIP calling, for example.

However, mobile isn't the only major trend that SMBs need to adapt to as we rush into 2013. They'll also have to start heading up into the cloud, as it provides various advantages for business owners, including faster deployment and a lower cost of ownership. And the good news for SMBs is that cloud-based technology provides a lowered cost of delivery and mobility, so they'll save money in the long run.

The report predicts that cloud computing and As-a-Service technologies will soon become the default way that SMBs leverage technology, as they provide a lower barrier to entry, greater flexibility and virtual/remote capabilities and do away with the space and location restrictions that arise from on-premises solutions. Plus, these technologies will offers SMBs access to competitive, cost-effective and efficient advantages only available with the cloud. In fact, j2Gobal predicts that with the evolution of the cloud market, SMBs will adopt the tech more quickly, "putting at least 2 in 3 SMBs in the cloud in 2013."

Finally, the company has discerned that integrated systems will become a much bigger part of SMB operations over the next year, as they provide greater efficiency through unified tools and systems that work collaboratively to drive results.

These fully integrated business solutions will begin to overtake disconnected systems throughout 2013. For example, email marketing will soon become one of the first applications to be completely integrated into CRM services, allowing sales and marketing teams to more easily execute campaigns and track the results from within a single application. Likewise, social capabilities will also become integrated into business platforms to help drive a faster sales cycle and lower acquisition costs; in addition, marketers will be able to manage social media campaigns more easily from their CRM services.

The new year is shaping up to be a banner year for SMBs, as long as they're willing to adapt to and incorporate these emerging technologies into their operations. Mobile devices, integrated systems and the cloud are all going to play an increasingly bigger role in the way businesses operate over the next 12 months - is your company going to be ready?