As every tech-savvy small business owner knows, technological innovation starts at the enterprise level and eventually trickles down to SMBs as products become less expensive and SaaS options are made available. Some of the futuristic tech on our radar is already hitting the SMB scene, while other trends outlined here are just now becoming widespread at the enterprise level and have quite a way to go before adoption by SMBs becomes commonplace.

If there’s one trend poised to take the SMB world by storm in 2018, it’s the availability of mobile device management for small businesses. In the past several years, “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies have become popular at enterprise businesses. Employees often prefer to work on their own devices, and with more freelance and contract employees than ever before, many companies have no choice but to allow staff to use the devices of their choice. In fact, freelancers now make up 35 percent of the U.S. workforce, and all research indicates that number is only going to go up in the next several years, which means BYOD may become the de facto policy for most SMBs.

While BYOD is good for the bottom line, and for employee comfort among the increasingly remote workforce, such policies raise logistical security concerns. When personal devices are lost or missing, any sensitive business information is at risk. Aside from security, BYOD makes it very difficult to maintain consistent standards, and something as basic as updating company software becomes problematic when employees use their own devices.

Enterprise corporations address security and logistical concerns through high-level MDM solutions, which until recently were prohibitively expensive or required subscription minimums that were out of reach for most SMBs. In the last year alone, however, major tech players have made moves to bring MDM functionality to the small business set. VMware made headlines when the IT security giant paired with Dell, effectively eliminating subscription minimums and bringing its outstanding MDM services to businesses of all sizes.

For companies that don’t have in-house IT support, even SMB-accessible products (like those from VMware) can be daunting to manage. Microsoft seems to have realized this, because its latest release of Microsoft 365 Business has built-in MDM features so user-friendly that no IT support is necessary for setup or continued maintenance. For just $20 per user, per month, Microsoft 365 Business subscribers can build in fail-safes for lost devices (and instantly wipe them, even remotely, of sensitive business materials), roll out updates and manage permissions.

The fact that major players (Dell, VMware, Microsoft) are investing in SMB-friendly MDM solutions signals that this trend of comprehensive SaaS products is here to stay, and tech-savvy business owners who rely on BYOD employees should seriously consider adoption in the coming year.

E-commerce isn’t a trend unique to 2018, but since 2017 was a record year for brick-and-mortar store closures, it’s safe to assume e-commerce will continue to grow in its place in 2018 and beyond. According to Fortune magazine, more than 300 retailers filed for bankruptcy in 2017, and hundreds more closed thousands of stores in favor of selling more online.

In a growing trend that many publications referred to as the retail apocalypse, stores that were once a staple of shopping malls closed in droves, and clothing retailers were not the only brands affected. Pharmacy giant CVS closed an astonishing 70 stores nationwide, electronic retailers like Radio Shack and HHGregg have all but disappeared, Sears Holdings (which owns Sears and Kmart) closed 300 locations, and Macy’s closed dozens of locations, with CEO Terry Lundgren saying in a press release, “We continue to experience declining traffic in our stores.”

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