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Cindy Bates

Vice President, US Small and Midsized Business & Distribution of Microsoft

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How to Turn Business Predictions into Growth Opportunities

April 26, 2016

These top business predictions are transformed into actionable insights for SMBs.

If you’re anything like me, you’re often attracted to books, articles and blogs centered around the latest business trends and predictions. Of course this makes for great reading material but many SMB owners don’t know what steps to take to turn those pie-in-the-sky trends into concrete opportunities.

To help you get started, I’ve combed through some of the top business predictions and turned them into the below actionable insights for SMBs.

Small businesses will have more mobility

What you should do: Use mobility to your advantage. New apps allow you to run more of your business processes on mobile devices, and that means keeping better tabs on your customers and your revenue. But the increasing volume and diversity of bring-your-own-device and corporate-owned devices presents a challenge. There are solutions to help minimize the complexity.

We’ll see more young virtual workers

What you should do: Learn from millennials. In a recent survey of millennials, the majority of respondents said that “good team collaboration” was the most valuable attribute in their ideal workplace. Collaboration isn’t limited to a single generation, so even if your workforce is older or younger, you can take advantage of tools such as Office 365, which help you collaborate across teams and with customers.

Analytics will become a key competitive weapon

What you should do: Get more personal. With every business, large or small, collecting customer data — from email addresses to birthdates — the point of differentiation is in how the data is being used. Birthday information, for example, can be used to send specialized offers or cards. Incorporate social media to build more accurate user profiles, and then, instead of sending mass emails, take the time to personalize outreach based on customer preference.

Personal assistants will go virtual

What you should do: Ask for help. As an SMB owner, a secretary or personal assistant might fall outside your budget. Did you know you can use virtual assistants like Cortana with Power Business Intelligence to quickly pull actionable insights from business data? As these applications become smarter, these free assistants will become more predictive, bringing significant productivity benefits to business owners.

Cybercrime will continue to grow

What you should do: Insure your business. Last year was known as the year of the data breach, and cybercrime is a mounting problem costing small businesses thousands of dollars annually. This Cyber Security IQ Quiz can help you test your knowledge and gain valuable insight to prevent an attack. Research shows that 60 percent of small businesses close within six months of experiencing a data breach. That’s likely because once you lose a customer’s trust, it’s nearly impossible to regain it. This year, consider cyber insurance to protect your business and your customers.

By taking the steps outlined above, you’ll build a stronger business and a more loyal customer base. That’s good news for any year.

This article originally appeared on Cindy Bates’ Blog.

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