Technology has become an increasing presence in our 21st-century lives, nowhere more so than in the business world, where technological innovation can lead to so many efficiencies, process improvements and increased levels of profitability.

Cloud technology, advances in hardware technology and the evolution of mobile apps have changed the landscape forever. In fact, 20% of UK small and medium-sized enterprises are planning to expand their use of technology during 2017 – a strategic move that’s in response to a growing understanding of the benefits that innovative tech can bring to even the smallest business.

Moving to a digital way of doing business

The way we trade, the way we market our businesses and the way we manage our processes has moved to the digital realm.

Between 2010 and 2014, the UK’s digital tech industry grew 32% faster than the rest of the economy. And the interesting thing to note is that 41% of that digital growth was in traditionally non-digital industries, such as finance and the public sector.

One area where a digital approach has really taken an especially strong foothold is in finance and accounting. Cloud accounting software, and the associated FinTech apps that work alongside these solutions, have made it easier than ever for small businesses to get a better grasp of their financial management. 23% of small businesses are already using cloud accounting solutions, and an additional 30% are intending to switch to the cloud in the next 2-3 years.

So managing your accounts and finances in a digital way is fast becoming the norm. A trend that’s even prompted HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to address the need for a digital way of working with businesses when it comes to tax submissions.

HMRC’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ campaign is an initiative to move the submission and payment of business and personal taxes into the online realm. The goal is that every UK business will be ready ‘go digital’ with tax submissions by 2020 –an ambitious aim when there are still some businesses out there using paper-based accounts or using outmoded desktop-based finance software.

To be ready for a wholly digital way of running their finances, many businesses will need to take a leap into the world of cloud accounting, FinTech apps and online business solutions – a move that has many advantages outside of the purely financial running of the business.

2017: increasing the adoption of technology

In 2017, the rise of technology, software and automation is likely to continue at pace – and not just in the use of software either. Advances in mobile hardware, 3D printing of industrial products and hybrid use of ‘Internet of things’ devices are set to change the world in even more significant ways.

The speed at which technology is evolving is frightening for some, but there’s a pressing need for your business to get its head around these emerging technologies. And that’s going to impact heavily on the talent you need in the business and the people you’ll hire over the coming year.

In 2017, you and your wider team have to be tech-savvy and on board with the advantages of the cloud. It’s about embracing technology to make your business relevant, competitive and efficient in this bold, new future.

A better view of the future, through tech

The way forward in 2017 will be to make technology work harder for your business. And part of that means adopting the cloud and everything it has to offer for your financial management and business intelligence.

In short, being ready for the inevitable changes that lie ahead this year means looking to the future – and having the best possible reporting, forecasting and intelligence on which to base your business decisions for 2017.

The importance of a trusted adviser

Although technology and apps can go a long way to helping you manage and predict future changes, they don’t write your business plan for you (AI hasn’t quite got to that point just yet!).

In these fast-moving times, a good business plan is a real asset. And that means working with a trusted business adviser – someone who can help you interpret your numbers, delivers the insights you need, and deliver a long-term plan that helps you attain your goals.

A modern business adviser doesn’t merely deal with the numbers, of course. In this new digital world, your adviser will also help you to source the right tech and software tools for achieving your key business objectives.

It keeps your future flexible, your decision-making agile and your systems at the cutting edge – and that’s a significant competitive advantage for any business.

A more confident outlook for 2017

Four in five small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are confident about their business performance in 2017. That’s a positive position for UK business to find itself coming into a new year, and a sign that the expected investment in technology is backed by real belief in making the next 12 months a period of growth for forward-thinking, tech-savvy business owners.

If you’d like to talk to us about ways that tech can help your business, please do get in touch to arrange a coffee and an informal chat.