Opportunities in high technology continue to abound for small businesses. This is true for startups, as well as for companies seeking to differentiate their services. One of our previous articles provided an overview of small business growth industries. As a follow up, we are going to take a more granular look at the information technology market. A number of factors are driving this growth including: the increase of speed and lower cost of personal computers and servers, the explosion of cloud computing, the ubiquity of mobile phones and the crossover of popular consumer applications into the workspace.
As evidence of the pace of technology innovation, take a look at Moore’s Law, which predicts that computer power and data storage capacity will double every 18 months. This has borne out from the introduction of punch card computing in 1890 to the coining of the term “cloud computing” in 2007. In the near future, large companies may dominate the manufacturing of hardware, such as the scalable quantum computer, which is predicted to outperform all computers on the planet combined. However, there will be ample opportunity for small companies to market peripherals, applications, computer security software, and IT services to support the evolution of these faster, more powerful computers.
Demand for companies that focus on hardware, software installation and networking will decrease as companies use cloud computing to access software and data on an on-demand basis. However, there will be a host of new technology specializations related to the cloud. For example, “virtualization engineering” firms will be needed to design and manage virtual networks; “collaboration technology specialists” will be called upon to advise companies on adopting and deploying collaboration solutions. Lastly, security professionals will need to evolve to provide more robust protection of intellectual property and financial data in the increasingly networked world while staying ahead of hacking techniques.
In the mobile technology space, there is, of course, considerable opportunity for start-ups focused on “apps.” The cost of entry is low; revenue generation potential is high since most apps reach a large number of users, and, if you penetrate an untapped niche, the growth possibilities are even greater. Additionally, there are numerous specialized opportunities for small businesses in this space, including “mobility consultants” who help integrate a firm’s technology, on-demand translation services via SMS and multimedia solution designers.
With millions of people using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, people are looking for the same ease of use and familiar look when it comes to enterprise technology. Recent consumer-style technology innovations created by small businesses for the workplace include: a Web-based application that cuts the time taken to do expense reporting by 50 percent, a cloud-based application that human resources departments can use to manage payroll, and others offering consumer-friendly approaches to customer relationship management and email administration. The opportunity for small businesses in enterprise software is supported by studies that predict the addition of 68 percent more software publishing jobs during the next decade and output growth of 8.4 percent a year through 2012.
Opportunities for small businesses in the technology market will only continue to grow. If you are an information technology start-up, or an established small business looking to expand, do not forget that your best resources are still people. Network with engineers and consultants: do not forget the influx of highly educated technologists from countries like India, China and Japan; and keep your own technical skills one step ahead of the competition. Whether you provide simple messaging applications, or the most complex cloud architecture, you will find there is an abundance of opportunity for your services.
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