by Granville Triumph
Unprecedented challenges of the past two years drove many small and midsized businesses into survival mode, and the day-to-day grind necessary just to keep the doors open didn’t leave much room for long-term planning. Now that they’ve had time to adjust and stabilize, SMBs are in a better position to think about strategic initiatives.
Here are some of the trends and issues that could impact your business in 2022:
Companies will continue to refine their remote and hybrid work capabilities.
The need to rapidly transition to remote operations in 2020 caught most businesses off guard, forcing them to adopt a hodgepodge of different technologies and business processes to remain operational. In the coming year, companies will continue to make adjustments to ensure that home-based workers enjoy the same security, connectivity and application performance they would have in the office.
5G will enable new business communication and collaboration possibilities.
Fifth-generation (5G) broadband cellular networks will increasingly provide the critical backbone necessary to support business communication. With data transmission rates of up 10 gigabits per second, 5G can deliver browsing and download speeds up to 20 times faster than 4G networks. It will provide remote workers with faster, more reliable connections with network and cloud resources, and enhance online file-sharing and collaboration. In addition, 5G-capable devices will reduce reliance on Wi-Fi availability, allowing users to connect virtually from almost anywhere.
Cloud investments will continue to increase.
The cloud is a strategic investment for SMBs as they continue to move workloads off premises for increased agility and flexibility. The cloud’s pay-as-you-go model also provides budget predictability by helping businesses reduce capital expenditures on technology resources. Shifting more workloads to the cloud will require a stronger focus on security, however. To minimize risk, companies must implement solid backup and data protection capabilities for their cloud portfolios.
Financial institutions will offer improved access to funding.
Many financial institutions cut back on loan approvals during the pandemic, but all signs point to increased financing options for small businesses in 2022. Loan approval rates across almost all lender types have been rising for the past few months, with many lenders offering interest rates as low as 2%. Although many of the federal disaster-relief programs offered during the pandemic are expiring, the Small Business Administration will still offer a variety of loans, micro loans and lines of credit. Additionally, the SBA is waiving fees on certain government-guaranteed loans through September 2022. With improved financing options, businesses will be able to improve cash flow, expand inventory and make necessary investments in technologies, renovations and staffing that can fuel a rebound from pandemic-driven downturns.
Companies will develop alternate supply chain resources.
Pandemic-triggered disruptions to supply chains created significant challenges for companies across most sectors over the past two years. Two-thirds of companies surveyed by Capgemini Research Institute say improving supply chain resilience is now a top priority. To achieve that resiliency, businesses will be researching alternative suppliers in different geographic areas to reduce their risk. In addition, many will adopt supply chain analytics that apply predictive modeling to improve forecasting and identify potential bottlenecks.
Cyber insurance will become a necessity.
Analysts say there were more than 700 million ransomware attacks in 2021 — a 130 percent increase over 2020 — and average recovery costs ballooned to $1.85 million. Industry analysts say 70 percent of these attacks targeted SMBs that simply don’t have the resources to absorb that kind of financial loss. Cyber insurance policies provide a hedge against direct ransomware losses, as well as any legal liability, regulatory fines or lost income that result from an attack.