By Damian Hanson, Co-Founder & Director, CircleLoop
According to Sage, 8 in 10 SMEs agree that technology is important to achieving their business goals. From improving the customer experience to optimising business operations, new innovations in technology are enhancing businesses day-to-day and offering SMEs great opportunities to weather the current economic turbulence.
For example, smart businesses have started to leverage cloud-based communications tools to gain a competitive advantage. Using cloud-based business communications, these SMEs are able to expand their talent pool with remote working options in the UK and abroad as well as offering greatly improved customer service that meets the needs of their customers.
Why cloud-based communication is vital in 2023
According to Mintel, the market size for UK cloud computing was estimated at £41 billion in 2022. Businesses relied on cloud-based communication tools to support aspects of hybrid working, improve collaborative efforts with distributed teams and effectively streamline communication from an internal perspective.
The widespread adoption has encouraged unified communication. More companies have started adopting Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) this year and saw the benefits of making phone calls through an internet connection instead of a regular landline or a mobile network. Increasingly, people are becoming aware of VoIP as a flexible and cost-effective alternative to public switch telephone networks (PSTN) and Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN).
83% of organisations indicated they had no visibility that their PSTN and ISDN services would be switched off in 2025, according to Spitfire Network Services ‘Switch On to the Switch Off’ survey. There is more incentive for businesses to utilise cloud communications to get ahead of the competition when many SMEs are unaware of these significant upcoming changes.
Five SME Predictions for 2023
So what else can we expect from cloud-based communication as we embrace a new year? I’ve listed below five of my top predictions for cloud communications in 2023:
Prioritisation of Sustainability
As climate change is a major concern, the increased adoption of cloud-based technologies has aligned with the business world’s attempts to minimise waste and enhance energy efficiency for SMEs in the UK. Research by accountancy firm, Moore Global, found that companies that place importance on ESG factors have seen profits rise 9.1% and revenues grow 9.7% over the past three years.
The Continued Growth of 5G
Leveraging 5G networks for digital innovation is shifting the landscape and is allowing SMEs to benefit from significant connection upgrades, faster internet speeds and lower latency. A survey commissioned by UK5G claims that the vast majority of UK businesses (70%) are already using or planning to deploy 5G services and networks, with the cost alone being the reason the numbers aren’t higher. As 5G expansion becomes more affordable and accessible in 2023 we can only expect a surge in the number of SMEs adopting it. 5G is slowly becoming a formidable force, and many believe it will outperform WiFi.
Greater Adoption of Integrated CRM Software
Customer relationship management systems continue to become more functional and comprehensive. CRM software companies now offer improvements to existing functions while introducing new features and creating specialised solutions to cater to the needs of various business owners. Increasingly CRM tools are able to seamlessly integrate with other business technology, greatly improving the efficiency and productivity of small teams.
The Rise of AI in Business
Cloud computing will become more efficient for businesses and customers with the integration of AI. Cloud-based as-a-service platforms are rapidly emerging and gaining popularity, enabling users to access machine learning functions such as AI-powered virtual assistants and chatbots such as Chat GPT. These will help businesses automate customer service and support providing faster, round-the-clock communication that is so in demand by customers today.
Businesses Will Learn to Become Recession-proof
As the UK faces its first recession since 2008, businesses of all sizes are looking for ways to survive the challenging times ahead. We analysed ONS business birth and death data from 2008-2013 from our Recession-proof Index to identify which industries and regions are the most recession-proof for new businesses. Many businesses are exploring methods to safeguard their companies against future recessions and other economic disruptions in the years to come.
What’s next for SMEs in 2023?
There’s no doubt that cloud communication will continue to be a valuable asset for SMEs in 2023. From improved collaboration and productivity to cost-effectiveness, cloud-based business communication tools offer numerous benefits we can expect SMEs to capitalise on this year.
The future of cloud communication looks bright, and SMEs that adopt these new technologies are well-positioned to compete in an increasingly competitive market. Integration of AI, improved 5G networks and improved functionality of business software will provide even more opportunities to improve internal and external communications and better serve their customers and employees alike.