Key Trends Poised to Impact Small Business in 2024
As we proceed into the new year, businesses are sharpening their tools to embrace the challenges and opportunities of 2024. With technology evolving so rapidly, it isn’t always easy to keep an eye on all trends as they unfold, yet the ability to keep up with new developments in the business world continues to be critical for success. To keep you geared up for 2024, here we present some trends that will likely impact your small-to-medium business in the upcoming year.
With generative AI undergoing a breakthrough in 2023, it comes as no surprise that it will likely continue to be in vogue among businesses next year. Generative AI is not only seen in well-known AI-specific applications such as ChatGPT, but it is also very much embedded in most major business software. From Microsoft Copilot to Adobe Firefly, generative AI is the element being diligently developed for common business use now. Generative AI aims to give businesses a competitive edge, and if small-to-medium businesses do not begin contemplating its use, they may lose the race at the start.
Although common generative AI tools are used for information search (e.g., Google Bard) and productivity (e.g., ChatGPT’s generation of texts with prompts), AI’s applications stem much further than that, and businesses would need to conduct more research to understand the extent to which AI is relevant for their fields as well as the cost of applying AI to their business endeavors. Educational insight on this is a pivotal first step– consultancy should be used if needed and AI education for employees would likewise be a good investment. The statistics reveal the longer-term benefits of AI adoption: based on numbers from a Small Business Now report by Constant Contact, 91% of small companies using AI report that it has contributed to more success, with manual errors avoided and time being regained to engage in more valuable tasks. For deeper insight into generative AI for small-to-medium businesses, consider exploring what generative AI entails in greater depth, how to integrate it into your business, what 10 types of generative AI you could be using to boost efficiency, as well as the strategies to master prompt engineering in your AI endeavors.
Amidst the surge of AI, emotional intelligence continues to be a crucial aspect in successful business life. After all, AI can only do part of the work for us, and in the workplace there is ultimately the need for humans to know how best to work in conjunction with AI. Numbers recorded by RedPoint Global state that almost 80% of customers still prefer some form of human connection despite being in an AI age. With AI now handling some traditionally manual work, businesses are now at an interesting point to consider what innovation and workplace skills truly mean. Now, with more time than ever freed up to properly develop products and services, elements of critical thinking, adaptability, teamwork, project management, leadership, and communication of all sorts become even more vital in a workplace dominated by AI.
Sustainability and Green Practices
With an ongoing environmental and human rights crisis, sustainability has been of growing awareness among consumers, and consequently, businesses are in an important position to take measures for better sustainable practices. The trend can be clearly seen in statistics– as documented by the Harvard Business Review, around one-third of Europe’s biggest companies have set the ambitious goal of reaching net zero by 2050. In a NielsenIQ study, 76% of consumers also report the desire for companies to take the initiative in reducing their carbon footprint, with 48% of consumers claiming to make sustainable decisions in their purchases wherever possible.
Sustainable practices can be reflected more widely in the many decisions that a company makes, regardless of their size. Purchasing ethical and environmentally friendly devices for the office can be one such example, as small-to-medium businesses can opt to buy only from eco-conscious and socially responsible brands. In the case of hardware devices, Acer’s Vero TravelMate and related products have been designed with utmost attention to sustainability, from product design, production, and energy use, all the way to logistics and package design. To give some example of Acer’s pledge to sustainability, 20-30% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic is to be used in Acer computers and displays by 2025, and 100% renewable electricity should be sourced for Acer production by 2035. These objectives can be further seen in Acer’s Earthion project.
Although cybersecurity isn’t a new concept, a mention-worthy note is that cyber attacks are actually increasingly frequent among small-to-medium businesses that do not have the infrastructure to protect their cyber safety. To illustrate, a whopping 46% of cyber crime target small businesses with a size of 1000 employees or under and on average, small businesses lose around $25,000 from each cyber attack. The figures for now are already concerning, and will unfortunately continue to be the case in 2024.
But the good news is, businesses can always take measures to protect their cyber safety, no matter the size of the company. Previously, at Acer Corner we have already introduced seven tools to avoid falling prey to cybersecurity attacks and how to fortify your business’ digital parameters, including also having outlined concrete steps to follow if your business really were to fall victim to a cyberattack. In the form of software, cybercrime prevention requires the use of firewalls (intrusion detection systems and intrusion prevention systems), antivirus software and encryption tools, as well as Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) software. Secured-core PCs (such as those of Acer’s secured-core laptops among the TravelMate Series) also show promise in protecting against the damage of cyber attacks with their secure chips that protect encryption keys. Acer ProShield Plus, a built-in application available only on Acer devices, also has the potential to protect against unauthorized access. For more information on business-secure PCs and why they matter, see here.
Coming into vogue since the pandemic, remote work is also here to stay in 2024 with added advantages but also extra demands. One obvious benefit of remote work is that of cost—with employees working from home, SMBs with a restricted budget can save massive costs on office costs and utilities. From the business owner’s perspective, remote work entertains the possibility of identifying promising workers from a much wider global talent pool. Having workers from different geographical areas also allows services to operate around the clock without much limitation. On the flip side, remote work has much to offer in terms of boosting motivation and productivity among employees. With less time and money wasted on commutes, employees can sleep in more and preserve their energy for the work that truly matters. Working from home also allows the opportunity for employees to spend more time with their families if they wish to. This leads to better performance, elevated job satisfaction, and even higher retention rates. With Forbes documenting 98% of workers desiring at least a hybrid work mode, businesses can safely assume that employees seem to greatly value the flexibility of being able to work from the comfort of home.
But with remote (or at least hybrid) work becoming the norm, employees will demand solid IT tools to set up an efficient, productive home office. With colleagues scattered across all four corners, video conferencing becomes an essential part of the everyday business routine. As employees are not able to enjoy instant, in-person IT support while working from home, assigning them reliable devices suited for remote work becomes a critical task.
For these needs, Acer has got you well covered. Acer’s TravelMate laptops come with the Acer Purified Voice and Purified View features, allowing employees to look and sound their best in e-meetings wherever they might be. With a simple switch, the AI-powered purified voice feature cuts off unwanted white noise in the background, allowing workers to attend meetings without having to worry about distracting noises beyond their control. The purified view can blur the background neatly and place the employee in focus during meetings, creating a vivid presentation of attendees even in virtual gatherings. Aside from carrying these optimal features for video conferencing, the Acer TravelMate P4 Spin 14, with its durable and lightweight nature, its enhanced security features, and its good connectivity, also presents an irresistible set of advantages for the hybrid-remote workplace.
Noting these trends, are you ready to bring your business into 2024?
2023 has seen several exciting changes in trends, and businesses are now in a vital position to show their ability to adapt. If you are looking to gear up in 2024, consider generative AI as a means to improve your data management, research, and customer service tools. For better client satisfaction, sustainability is a must, and for employee retention, look to added flexibility and more useful IT tools for remote work. If you’re thinking of ideas to start your 2024 game strong, these trends are a benchmark to help lead the way.
Esme Lee is a science writer and editor in the UK, carrying a passion for tech copywriting. She has a background in educational neuroscience and holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge.