Small businesses can benefit greatly by using the latest technologies to improve operational efficiency and innovation, but they can also open the door to a host of headaches. In 2014, we will see continued consumer emphasis on privacy and the growth of Internet of Things and mobile, which will have a direct impact on small businesses and they way they do business.
All eyes will be on protecting Privacy.
From scary headline news to a much needed wake-up call, consumers and small businesses are becoming more mindful about the amount of personal information that’s shared and collected on a daily basis. In 2014, we expect to see privacy protection emerge as a feature in new and existing products. But this new feature will inevitably spark a debate on whether or not these features actually provide real or meaningful privacy protection. Expect Tor, which enables online anonymity, to become a popular application across the spectrum of Internet users. You’ll also see a resurgence of users adopting aliases and fake names on social networking sites to protect their privacy.
Small business New Year’s resolution: Consider the information you’re collecting on your consumers and whether it is necessary. Be transparent about why you’re collecting certain data, and you’ll establish a more trusting relationship with your customers.
The “Internet of Things” becomes the “Internet of Vulnerabilities” for Small Businesses
Our devices are getting smarter and so must we. With millions of devices connected to the Internet—and in many cases running an embedded operating system—expect more hackers to be hacking in 2014. Security researchers have already demonstrated attacks against smart televisions, medical equipment, baby monitors and security cameras. Many of the companies building gadgets that connect to the Internet don’t even realize they have an oncoming security problem and therefore don’t have a friendly end-user method to patch these new vulnerabilities or notify customers when there is a vulnerability. This poses serious and potentially debilitating problem for small businesses.
Small business New Year’s resolution: Consider the sensitivity of information accessed and stored via wearable tech in the workplace. Establish an “Internet of Things” employee policy about what can and cannot be used in the office or used to access your network.
Attracting trouble while social networking with customers.
New social networks attract scammers and cybercriminals the more they grow in popularity. Consider Instagram, which now boasts more than 130 million users. Small businesses are leveraging the visual social network to share artistic photos and promotions to drive engagement, but some spammers are taking advantage of this trend with gift card offers to get sensitive information. In order to redeem the offer, the user is asked to provide personal contact information like an email or a phone number. Symantec exposed some of these spam accounts and found that in the fine print (which isn’t even readily visible unless you scroll down), users are advised they will be presented with some third-party offers and that completing these does not increase their chances of winning. This type of spam can damage a small business’ online reputation if this is the experience existing and prospective customers have with their brand. Protect yourself and your customers by using security best practices no matter where you are on the Internet, or how you connect to it.
Small business New Year’s resolution: Carefully consider what social communities best fit your brand before creating a presence on all the latest social networks.
What technology trends are you planning to adopt for your small business in 2014?