Top 5 Business Technology Trends for 2021

By Luke Smits - Founder & Operations Manager
Middle aged man working from home with a laptop and home office

Sitting here at the end of 2020, it’s amazing to think how much has changed in the short space of a year. If in November 2019 someone told you that you would spend most of your 2020 working from home, your office space was suddenly going to be half empty most of the time and you would spend more hours on Zoom meetings than talking face-to-face with your family and friends, you would have thought they were crazy.

But that’s exactly what happened.

When it comes to business technology in 2021, it’s going to be about consolidating the changes that happened in the strange year that was 2020. We’ll be planning for what happens if we go into lockdown again in Australia, and how you can adapt your business to continue to not only function, but grow in a COVID-safe way.

Working from home will be a feature of our future.

It’s something that you’ve probably already started to contemplate. Now that you’ve seen how successful and effective your good employees can be when they work from home, they’re going to be asking why they can’t continue to do that, at least for a couple of days a week (and maybe even more).

You want to keep your best people happy, right? So instead of bootstrapping working from home with the bare essentials, in 2021, you’re going to want to make working from home efficient and secure in an affordable way.

To help you do this, here’s my top business technology trends for 2021 – and they ALL revolve around making working from home work for your business.

Trend #1 – Softphones

One of the biggest challenges in many businesses is the inability to transfer calls between staff members easily, when people are spread all over the place. But with a modern “softphone” system you can install an app on a mobile phone and that mobile effectively becomes another handset that you can transfer calls to just like you were in the same office. You can also pickup existing handsets and take them home and they will function just like a traditional system.

Trend #2 – Cloud Computing

Cloud-based IT solutions are fast becoming the norm and many Australian businesses have already started moving all of their files into the cloud. But many also get a bit stuck with the need to still login to a physical, on-premises server that’s required to run many of their legacy (AKA old) applications.

If your business has an application that can’t be moved to the cloud, or doesn’t have a web-based alternative, then it’s time to consider whether you can move away from that application and use something else. The upside of doing this is that newer applications come with many efficiency and productivity benefits compared to their older counterparts.

If the answer is no, and you have to maintain your legacy programs, then moving your server to a Virtual Private Server, which is a server in the cloud that you own and control.

Trend #3 – Laptops instead of Desktops

If your business has traditionally used desktop computers, there’s a good chance that right now, you’re regretting that decision. Some businesses have asked their employees to take home their desktops home, others are asking them to use their own devices (which can cause a host of security issues if not managed properly) and some are even talking about buying another desktop so each user can have one at home and one at the office. It’s both inefficient and expensive.

It’s time to seriously consider purchasing laptops for your staff. And with the use of docking stations, you’ll be able to give your staff the best of both worlds – a laptop to work from anywhere. Plus over time, you won’t be having to maintain multiple computers for everyone which will keep your monthly maintenance costs down.

Trend #4 – 5G is coming

5G or “5th” Generation mobile phone technology is already here, but it’s contained to a few selected areas. Not for long. When it’s completed its rollout, 5G technology is going to make the speed of internet connected devices so much faster, so you’ll be able to use them for more things.

Getting your business modernised and your workforce technically adept now, will set you up to take advantages of internet connected devices and the possibilities they open up. You’ll be able to control staff access to various areas and even ensure they are washing their hands on a regular basis. It will also allow you to track vehicles, and devices such as mobile phones and computers to make sure things don’t “go missing”.

Trend #5 – Shared workspaces or “Hotdesking”

So, right now you may be looking at your previously full, busy office, hearing the dust gathering and the dollars rapidly disappearing. What to do?

Well, if you can downsize and have your staff share desks when they come into the office, then that’s a good option. This is called hotdesking, where staff don’t have a dedicated desk, and share one instead.

If this isn’t an option for you, then you should think about leasing out some of your desks to other businesses that have staff who can’t or don’t want to work from home (but might not want to keep driving an hour to and from the office every day). These are known as shared or collaborative workspaces. You could lease some of your space to workers from other businesses, and even have your own staff lease some space from other like-minded businesses that are closer to where they live.

If you’re wanting to implement technology trends for a happier workforce in 2021, then most of these things are best done in consultation with a managed IT service provider. Make sure you talk to them as soon as possible to come up with a plan that will allow your business to work, no matter what 2021 throws at you.

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