4 top SMB trends for 2022

person holding red and beige twin bell analog alarm clock
person holding red and beige twin bell analog alarm clock
Photo by Malvestida Magazine

COVID lockdowns have propelled digital adoption, unleashing a swathe of new tools and services that are finally accessible to smaller companies. It’s an exciting time, levelling the playing field for SMBs. More so with the recognition that we’re never going “back” to how things were pre-pandemic, but new technologies, processes and workplace arrangements are here to stay and form the basis for SMB trends for 2022.

So, what’s in the crystal ball? Here are four key predictions for 2022 :

1. SMBs accessing enterprise-grade tech

Sophisticated platforms that leverage AI and machine learning are no longer the domain of large enterprises. Cloud-based, SaaS solutions are democratising IT. Everyone is “buying up”, with SMBs buying traditionally mid-market and even enterprise-grade products. This means that formerly enterprise-level technology such as ERP is now accessible to smaller businesses.

SMBs can get in on the action without worrying they’ll be left behind due to a lack of capital to invest in buying solutions outright. Instead, there’s a much lower upfront cost to access the latest ERP technology. It also means they don’t have to worry about the cost of IT support as that’s typically part of the subscription package with SaaS services.

2. Time-stacking meetings

As we’ve moved to Zoom or Microsoft Teams, we’ve just supplanted the meeting with the Virtual Meeting. We’re all tired of this and to be frank it’s tiring. Email has largely been replaced by lots of contextual chats, such as Slack and Teams. The issue is that we don’t always need face-to-face instant feedback in communication. Meetings (physical and virtual) can be replaced with asynchronous messages, videos, and small incremental chats.

Instead of booking a meeting to review a document “when our calendars collide”, businesses will increasingly use real-time collaborative documents where they tag each other in small incremental comments for review. This works great with customer proposals as well. There’s no need to send a long email ever again. Instead, you can send a small document with a Vidyard video of you talking about it. 2022 will see people “time stacking” the necessary, with many actual meetings in small sections of the day while taking the rest of the day to work asynchronously across many channels, many devices, and a wide selection of connections (that are ubiquitous).

3. A major focus on trust

Since COVID, many consumers and businesses have started making online purchases for the first time and/or are buying online more often, and critically the average value of individual transactions (Average Order Values) is rising. Previously, most online purchases were for smaller-ticket items. But now, McKinsey data shows that 70% of B2B decision-makers are open to making new, fully self-serve or remote purchases over $50,000, and 27% would spend more than $500,000.

This level of spending requires high confidence in a vendor. This means having a platform that is reliable and robust, with high-level SOC-2 cyber security. SMBs will increasingly outsource this functionality, partnering with solution providers who can offer near 100% uptime and enterprise-grade cyber security. The beauty of the digital world is that everything can be outsourced as a service, and we’ll see this trend continue as online transactions continue to grow even after lockdowns end.

4. Getting transparency throughout operations

COVID has placed a huge strain on supply chains, starkly revealing inadequacies in internal processes, logistics and fulfilment. Provenance and visibility in fulfilment are becoming vital for consumers, who want to know where a product is from, where it is in the shipping process, or when it’s arriving. Providing this level of transparency has traditionally been hard for SMBs, reliant as most are on a network of different partners (versus retailers – such as Amazon – who own and control the entire end-to-end process).

2022 is the year when everything gets connected and visible. Smart ERP systems will enable different parties to plugin, providing real-time data on the entire process from the warehouse through to the doorstep. Businesses will increasingly integrate disparate systems into a single platform or solution, such as inventory, CRM, accounting, and payroll. Reports will be generated in real-time, allowing businesses to pivot and adapt according to changing market circumstances and volatility, rather than solely pegged to traditional “quarters” and “financial years”.

2022 probably won’t be an easy year. For some SMBs it will be a year of regeneration and regrowth, for others a year of review and readjustment. What it won’t be is “back to normal” or predictable. That’s why moving to solutions and processes that accommodate volatility will be such an overarching trend.

Charlie is the CEO of Wiise and author of the 4 top SMB trends for 2022. With 25+ years of tech experience, including leadership roles at Salesforce, Microsoft and Dropbox, Charlie has also built and mentored several startups through fundraising, product-market fit and scalable go to market activity. 

This article was first published by Small Business Answers