Small Business Tech Predictions for 2012

Mario Armstrong is a digital lifestyle expert, the tech corespondent for the TODAY show and CNN, and the host of a daily tech talk radio show on SiriusXM. An entrepreneur by nature, Mario made his passion his career by quitting his day job and founding Mario Armstrong Media. AT&T has sponsored the following blog post.

As a digital lifestyle expert, people are constantly coming to me wanting to know what the next big trend will be. For 2012, all of my predictions relate to one thing: mobility. As smartphone and tablet adoption reaches critical mass in 2012, all the major new innovation we’re going to see will be in the mobile arena. Here are four of the top trends I’m expecting to see explode in 2012, as well as some tips on how your business can adapt:

1. Mobile Payments

While 2010 first saw the rise of mobile payment devices like Square transform your smartphone into a credit card terminal, 2011 was a banner year for mobile payments with all of the big players launching their first attempts at NFC payment technology. We’re going to see the mobile payment field rapidly expand in 2012, both in terms of more consumers using their mobile devices to pay for things as well as small business owners taking more of their payments with their phones, tablets to process credit card transactions while on the go. Don’t lose a sale because you haven’t started taking credit cards—research the newest and most innovative apps, and then find a way to bring your customers what they want this year.

2. App Mania

Every year the app market gets bigger and bigger, but in 2012 I’m expecting that we’re going to see a lot more innovation. We will start to see more niche apps, apps more focused on smaller audiences and more loyal audiences. If your business doesn’t have an app, it’s not too late. On every platform new apps continue to launch successfully despite heavier and heavier competition. You may not be the first to market, but you can be the best for your audience. Also in 2012, we will start to see more unique ways of generating revenue through apps. Sure, you can already charge per download and there are some in-app purchasing systems in place, but in 2012 there will be tons of new revenue streams.  These will include revenue sharing agreements, record numbers of sponsorship opportunities, and more diverse kinds of in-app purchases taking place.

3. Mobile Accessibility

One of the biggest challenges for small business owners in 2012 will be making sure that your site is mobile accessible. If it wasn’t on your radar in 2009, 2010 or even 2011—shame on you. Many sites are already beginning to see a significant percentage of their audience come in from mobile devices, and if you don’t know what your numbers are like you need to find out. In 2012 the people responsible for tracking stats on your website will start to notice a serious uptick in the number of mobile devices connecting. You need the analytics in place to know what devices your visitors are using and then you need a solid strategy to offer mobile customers the absolute best experience.

4. Voice

We’ve seen a huge boost to voice control with Siri and the iPhone 4S this past year, and that’s just the start. Voice-control of our devices is finally hitting a more mainstream audience, and consumers are excited to see innovation in this area. We’ve been using our voice to try and control our mobile devices for years, but the technology has always lagged behind consumer expectations. Siri set the bar high, but they’re far from the only voice-control product on the market. The biggest win with voice is that it’s completely hands-free, making you more productive on the go. Whether you’re dictating, transcribing documents, or operating your phone with your voice, it allows you to do more when your hands are tied.

These are just my predictions, feel free to make your own in the comments below. What trends do you expect to see emerge for small business in 2012? What are your predictions for how business will change in the coming year?
Mario Armstrong Digital Lifestyle Expert Sponsored post About Mario