Top 7 Emerging IT trends for small and medium sized businesses in 2021

Feb 22, 2021 | Scaling up

SMEs looking to stay ahead of their competitors, rebound from COVID-19 and to grow their businesses are looking to these Emerging IT trends to understand how they can best benefit from technology.  We see big opportunities for small business owners to grow their teams, grow their revenues and most importantly to grow their profitability with the technologies that underpin these trends.

Emerging IT Trends for the way we think.

1  Big data for Small Business  – A growing number of applications are putting powerful big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence tools in the hands of small businesses. For us, we use digital asset management software that can automatically categorize images based on what it contains, saving hundreds of hours of cataloging images.  Facebook provides strong machine learning tools for advertisers looking to identify customers interested in their products.

Emerging IT Trends - Big data for small businesses

There are many ways that small businesses can leverage big data to gain powerful insights and actionable intelligence for their business that will assist in increasing productivity.

Emerging IT Trends for the way we sell.

2  Online sales – For some businesses, like Restaurants, going online and selling was a matter of life or death.  For others, there have been big opportunities over the lockdowns of 2020-21.  Technologies like Magento have bought the capability into the realm of the average small business.  Whether to generate a few extra thousand dollars, to move old stock, or as a part of a strategic pivot to grow your business, online selling is something that many businesses are moving to.  The changes in the economics of selling online will see a continuation in not only B2C, but also B2B.

3  Marketing Technology – We have seen a massive increase in technologies that small businesses can use to help their marketing.  There are too many great free tools, so businesses need to look at their marketing plan to see where the biggest gaps are and where the biggest opportunities are to grow their revenue.  A lot more small businesses, even businesses with 2 or 3 employees are getting quite sophisticated with their marketing.

Emerging IT Trends for the way we work

4  Workplace Flexibility – Work From Home was a mandated activity last year, but for some, the return to work has been slow.  Some teams are looking to offer more flexibility, enable their teams to cut the time spent traveling into the office. This creates a series of challenges around productivity and accountability which small businesses will need to address if they are to retain their Agile IT approach towards the workplace.  We see tools like Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and public or private cloud applications enabling a more flexible approach to work and productivity.

5  Team Communications – COVID-19 made 2020 the year of Teams and Zoom, but the challenge now is to ensure that communication becomes more meaningful.  Small businesses are starting to leverage workflow tools and communications applications like Confluence to provide their teams with the tools and information that they need to do their job.  Digital dashboards also create an important communications tool for the team, tracking progress, identifying bottlenecks and motivating the team.

6  Offshoring Tech – Many small businesses have seen their teams work from home and have taken the opportunity to augment their teams with employees from other countries, in particular the Philippines.  This can bring with it its own challenges but employers are seeing benefits in flexible hiring and workplace laws along with significant savings in wages. In some areas, such as graphic design, skills become accessible to small businesses that aren’t available in the Australian workforce or would be prohibitively expensive.

7  Culture Tech – Part of the success of Extreme Networks has been our culture, which is based on our 4 key values.  The next challenge is to replicate small business cultures as teams grow, especially if those teams include members who are tree changers or off shored.  The changing nature of work is changing the nature of how a companies culture develops and is managed.  As business leaders, it is critical that we adapt to the way we lead our teams.  The geographic spread in companies has migrated from multinationals, down to corporates and into the microbusinesses.  A 3 person company could have 3 people in 3 different countries.  Leading these small, dynamic teams requires new skills and new technologies to empower the team and more importantly to create alignment with the vision of the company.

Trends for the way we stay safe.

8  Security – The Australian Cyber Security Centre has released its SME guide to Cyber Security and it highlights some of the emerging IT trends for security.  The threat has become a lot more prevalent, meaning that policies and procedures need to be updated, training needs to be increased and contingency plans need to be created to ensure that your small business does not suffer a phishing, malware, cryptolocker or other types of Cyber Strike.  Since early 2000, we have seen a significant number of new customers come to us after experiencing significant or catastrophic data security incidents.  Planning for these, understanding the risks and working to mitigate them isn’t always expensive, but it does require work.

Next steps to move your business forward

  1. Review your business plan to understand where you plan to be in 5 years.  Is it appropriate?  Is it aggressive enough?
  2. Break your 5 year goals into 1 year goals and your 1 year goal into 90 day goals.
  3. What are the issues that you will have in achieving those goals?
  4. Start looking at the technological solutions that can assist you in moving forward.

Hint – our big wins are around digital dashboards, team communication tools like confluence (free for less than 10 users) and tools that help us reinforce our culture.


These are the EmergingIT Trends that we are seeing within our business and those of the hundreds of customers that we support.

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