Written by Ian Worang

 

BDC has released a report with the six trends that small and medium sized business owners need to know about for 2017.

Three of these trends relate to the rapid rise of the digital economy.

It’s clear that digital technologies are changing the economy with automation, online markets, and by leveraging the power of data—but what can small businesses do in the face of these shifts?

The first trend to be aware of is the growth of virtual marketplaces. E-commerce is already growing rapidly in Canada, and it shows no signs of slowing down. BDC recommends that business owners build a cohesive online presence that reacts to and engages with its customers. This means social media, targeted ads that increase traffic, and mobile-friendly websites that appeal to customers who are reading reviews and shopping via their smartphones.

The second trend is the automation of business activities. Automation refers to robots and artificial intelligence, but it also includes other digital technologies that increase productivity like customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

Small businesses need to strategize for the future of automation now. This means involving your employees in choosing new technology systems, understanding your own knowledge limitations, and reaching out to third-party consultation if needed.

The third trend that will impact entrepreneurs and small business owners is the rise of the data economy. Vast quantities of data are amassed by companies in their everyday operations. Loyalty cards, for instance, track consumer behavior and preference. However, many businesses still do this data collection by hand, which is not only prone to error, but burdensome.

With a projected estimate of 75 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2025, businesses need to use data wisely to optimize their day-to-day operations. This means gathering data more efficiently, but also analyzing it to generate insights that will drive your business.

For a more in depth look at these trends, read the full report here (registration required).

StartUp HERE Toronto is a publishing partner of techPORTFOLIO and this article was originally published on their site.