Tech trends: What will the future of UK business look like?

Intuit country manager Rich Preece discusses the technologies that he thinks will shape the UK workplace by 2020…

Cloud computing, digital, and mobile technologies have started to transform businesses. Many of us now access documents from mobile devices, attend virtual meetings via teleconferencing and collaborate on tasks using social media.

All of this means we don’t have to spend so much time chained to our desks. In fact, a whitepaper by Citrix Systems found that 72% of UK employers are providing or expanding telework options.

This focus on mobile and flexible working is taking place across the board, from sales people and tradesmen using tablets in the field, to business owners bookkeeping on their smartphones on the way home.

But, with technology constantly evolving, what will the workplace of the future look like for small and medium enterprises and how will this play out across different areas of the business?

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and wearable technology

We’ve already seen how consumer technology has been brought into the realms of business with the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon. The lines between our personal and business lives are continuously blurring, and this is only set to continue into 2020 and beyond. According to Kinvey 50% of employers will require that employees use their own devices for work purposes by 2017.

In a back office capacity, BYOD allows you to manage your books and instantly pull up cash flow figures wherever you are. This means you can access your finances on the move at any given time and make updates in real-time. Some of the most forward thinking start-up businesses are already doing this via mobile phones and tablets, but we could even see this go one step further with wearable technologies. Imagine being able to manage your workload via a smart watch or using Google Glass.

Future working

When it comes to physical work spaces, in 2020 cars might be the new meeting room. Regus envisions commuters of the future working in self-driving cars, where front seats can swivel around to create a four-person meeting space.

The design of the work space itself could also undergo radical change. From fresh air pumped into air conditioning units, to healthy snacks and water being automatically provided at regular intervals – all this could help drive productivity, efficiency and staff satisfaction.

Cloud networks

Change could also be seen right down to the network. Collaboration platform firm Huddle thinks that ‘work networks’ will die out, as firms shift to cloud-based systems. This process is already in motion, as many small and medium-sized businesses have begun to realise the cost benefits and efficiency gains of working in the cloud; from managing customers to managing finances online.

The cloud also allows for greater collaboration; you can work with your accountant to update and instantly access your books via the cloud, and you can query invoices or payments processes to get answers in real-time. Cloud platforms are helping to take the pain out of financial management, allowing start-ups to focus instead on strategic tasks and growing their businesses.

All these technologies enable remote working and businesses are already realising the benefits of having greater flexibility in the workplace. What’s more small businesses can actually save money by adopting this approach. A recent study by Telework Research Network found that if those with compatible jobs telecommuted for just two days a week, employers could save over £3,000 a year.

This new approach to working is only set to rise as we become more mobile in future. The possibilities are endless. Whether it’s wearable technologies, a bigger move to the cloud or re-designing office space to encourage a more collaborative workforce, technology really has the power to fuel the future of business and transform the work environment.

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