eReaders and tablet computers
In 2010 the eReader will become an essential new digital platform for consuming and managing content within every business.
2010 will be the year that the tablet PC and the eReader enter the mainstream. With a plethora of eReaders currently available and more on the way, most notably from Apple with its iPad, and the much anticipated Skiff Reader, businesses will have another platform to distribute their content to potential consumers. These devices will also offer businesses a cost effective and efficient communications technology for their office-based and mobile workers.
The existing netbooks that have gained popularity will continue to do so in 2010 with new models from ASUS, Sony and Dell, and the convergence of these devices with the smartphone will also continue. 2010 is the year of integration and personalisation of the technology that all small enterprises will use. As the year progresses, the tablet PC will begin to find its niche in the business sector. Also expect a rush of new eReaders with colour screens using the Plastic Logic technology that offers lightweight and flexible screens.
Data storage, and even applications, will move away from the PC desktop and increasingly into the cloud as 2010 progresses.
The decentralisation of data storage and application access will increasingly move to the cloud as more vendors enter the market. With current platforms from Google and Amazon dominating the corporate space, new entrants into the sector will offer cost-effective solutions that all small businesses can utilise.
Cloud computing will also become more interactive and move away from its current use as a data backup solution to offer true online applications, such as Microsoft’s Office Web Apps, that enterprises and their mobile workforces can tap into. 2010 will be the year that cloud computing becomes a realistic proposition for even the smallest enterprise. They can use these Internet-based platforms, not only for data storage, but also to outsource some aspects of their day-to-day operations.
Dan Conlon, founder of online data storage provider, Humyo says: “Small to medium businesses within the next few years will see a reduction in both capital (hardware and software) and personnel managing their IT network. With the shift to SaaS (Software as a Service), business owners will be potentially outsourcing their IT department to a cloud computing vendor(s) freeing up valuable resources and capital expenses.”
The mobile phone becomes a hand-held computer in 2010 with a new array of smartphones that will bring real-world benefits to all business users.
By the end of 2010 there will be over one billion mobile phone handsets that can access the Internet. What this means for small businesses is that they instantly have a new platform through which to communicate with customers and, for some, a huge new market to sell their digital content to. M-commerce, or mobile commerce, is set to enter the mainstream in 2010. Retailers that already have a presence on the web will make their content suitable for this new mobile sales channel. It will also give small businesses a new market for advertising.
For businesses that need mobile data technologies, the arrival of the Android operating system (sometimes simply called Droid) developed initially by Google will give developers more flexibility in the design of future applications. The Blackberry range of smartphones will continue to develop, as will Apple’s iPhone which will also be joined by the iPad that could, in 2010, provide a completely new platform for smaller enterprises to use within their businesses. Apple’s App store and the Ovi and App World stores, from Nokia and Blackberry respectively, will continue to dominate the smartphone applications market in 2010. However, the Nexus One handset from Google that runs the Android operating system could gain significant market share in 2010 simply because of the Open Source nature of Android itself.
Business intelligence becomes even more important in 2010 as businesses increasingly mine their customer data for new sales leads.
Information will become an even more important and commercial commodity in 2010 as more advanced data mining and analysis applications come onto the market that smaller enterprises can make use of. The interrogation of customer profile data with advanced CRM (Customer Relationship Management) will offer businesses an unprecedented insight into the behaviour of their customers. Business intelligence (BI), that was once an expensive commodity, will become available to micro businesses via online services, such as the subscription-based SaaS platforms that BI vendors will offer in 2010.
Within businesses the ability to understand and utilise the data they have will become even easier and more efficient with the development of predictive analysis. Products like IBM’s Cognos and SPSS data mining systems will give rise to more cost effective tools aimed at the smaller enterprise. This will enable businesses to review and revise their business plans and overall market strategies on the fly, as market and customer data changes. With the available data management systems that cloud computing will deliver, coupled with the burgeoning social network data, advanced analysis of these spaces will be pivotal in 2010, as Web 2.0 communities become an essential component of every business’s analytics.
The green credentials of all businesses will come under even more scrutiny as 2010 progresses. Customers and commercial partners alike will place more emphasis on businesses’ environmental policies.
A greater awareness of the environmental impact that business has will be key to business growth in 2010. Corporate responsibility that has so far been attached to larger corporations will be increasingly demanded of smaller enterprises as well. Technology, in the form of smart metering to increase the efficiency of energy usage, will be vital this year. The use of cloud computing and more flexible and mobile work practices will also help to alleviate the pressure that businesses place on the environment.
The perfection of tablet-like computing devices, such as Apple’s iPad and the Skiff reader, could herald the age of at least the partial paperless office. With a continued focus on reducing business travel, telecommuting and teleconferencing will enter a new age with advanced technologies that can deliver an immersive experience on standard hardware setups.
The location of customers will become of paramount importance in 2010. A new wave of geo-location services will move the smartphone and PDA to a new level of usability.
Until now, the development of applications for mobile platforms, such as the Nokia N series and the Blackberry, have focused on delivering information or services to the user but take no notice of their location. In 2010 these applications will break out of this digital straightjacket and begin to be aware of the user’s actual location. The tracking of freight, mobile workers, customers in the high street and the delivery of location-based advertising and promotions will arrive on all the major mobile platforms. Google has already purchased AdMob that delivers adverts to mobile devices, so expect to see location-based ads on all smartphones running the Android operating system in 2010.
Augmented reality systems will also begin to appear on smartphones and the first generation of tablet PCs. The inclusion of GPS technology in most handsets offers an entirely new opportunity to interface with business colleagues and customers alike via their location. It is predicted that there will be nearly 200 million augmented reality handsets in the market by 2012. The dynamic nature of these applications that can update the location of a user in seconds will open new sales channels, and of course when you mash location-based services with social networks, an entirely new market is created. 2010 will see the first tentative steps in this new location-based space, but one that is set to explode by the end of the year.
Digital marketing media
Digital marketing in 2010 takes on a social aspect as Web 2.0 becomes increasingly commercialised. 2010 will also be the year that search engine optimisation and traditional online display ads get an overhaul.
With the use of press advertising continuing to fall, 2010 will see a continued increase in the use of digital marketing as small enterprises develop innovative strategies that allow them to reach more targeted customers. The website banner advertisement is now too simplistic and unquantifiable for businesses to justify using. Whereas new services such as Lotusjump (a tool which sources the best S.E.O keywords for a business and tells users how to implement them) and WebVisible (that provides next generation online advertising systems) will enable smaller enterprises in particular to lever their ad spend and deliver a much better return than ever before. 2010 is the year that all small enterprises can become much savvier with their digital marketing and vastly improve their overall sales revenue.
2010 will also be the year where the commercialisation of social networks begins to take route and offer real-world revenue to even micro enterprises. Digital marketing will become even more important in 2010 as the M-commerce space begins to grow. The use of geo-targeted ads, delivered via the new wave of location-based services, will be vital revenue to all small businesses. The potential for this mobile space to be even larger than the web means that all businesses will need to ensure this channel is a central component of their digital marketing strategy throughout 2010 and beyond.