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    We live in a digital world. Every year, technology enhances what we can do. That has never been more true than since 2020, when the world turned very digital very quickly. In 2022, many of those events are now becoming important trends. When it comes to technology, what should you and your business think about this year?

    Hybrid Work

    "48% expressed a desire to be fully remote. 44% of employees favoured hybrid working arrangements. Among employers, 51% support the hybrid work model, while only 5% mention fully remote work as a possibility," revealed the results from an Apollo Technical survey.

    Hybrid working is the most important trend on this list because it will be 2022's most pressing business issue. As people start returning to the office, they still remember the joys (and frustrations) of working remotely. There's no returning to a regular 9-to-5 and 5-days-a-week commute. Employees want flexibility, hence the need for hybrid working.

    But we're still defining the concept and there isn't an exact blueprint for hybrid work. Still, companies should think about a few crucial points. How will they safely share business information with employees? How will they ensure employees have the right devices and network gadgets to do their jobs? How will managers monitor performance and encourage productivity? Yet while remote working is a tech trend (such as Teams), the real issues relate to how companies operate. That makes it the overarching topic that every business should think about in 2022.

    Cashless Payments

    "The financial services industry is in the midst of a significant transformation, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Global cashless payment volumes are set to almost double from 2020 to 2025, from about one-trillion transactions a year to about 1.9-trillion transactions a year," according to Engineering News.

    This prediction doesn't need a crystal ball. One effect of social distancing is that many more people now tap their bank cards. Mobile payments through phones or smartwatches are also starting to become more popular, and several local banks offer virtual cards on phones that you just tap.

    Even though around 90% of transactions in SA are still cash, even that may shift with mobile money services such as m-Pesa and Unayo that aim to make cashless transactions easier in small amounts. In fact, that may be the space to watch: if one of those services can access the informal market, it will create a big boom, so businesses should keep an eye on this trend and prepare to adopt it.

    Self-Service

    "The global self-service market accounted for USD 15.70 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach USD 37.75 billion by 2021," predicted Zion Market Research.

    Self-service has been around for a long time - just think about ATMs and online banking. These days, you can expect to book a car service, change your insurance or order food without talking to a single human being. In some countries, self-service retail points are popping up, though not everyone likes them.

    Still, there is no denying that letting people help themselves saves money and effort, and usually means happier customers. The most common examples are online booking and ordering systems, and there is also a rise in customer service bots that help answer basic questions.

    Managed Services

    "An increasing number of businesses have successfully adopted [technology] changes by way of embracing managed service providers," explained Jade Global.

    Did you ever need your phone or laptop fixed, so you bribed a tech guru to do it for you? That is essentially what managed services do in the technology world: they can provide the hardware, software and techie skills, and you retain them as a service. If the printer breaks or the server falls over, that's their job to fix as part of the contract. In its purest form, managed services means you don't have to own any technology systems and instead just pay for what you use.

    Customer businesses then don't have to pay hefty callout fees or spend a lot on new technologies - they can rent what they need. Managed services are becoming very popular because they are a good way to run technology without having to invest a fortune upfront. Since such services use economies of scale to reduce prices, they are also becoming attractive and affordable to smaller businesses.

    Grow your business your way

    Our range of Vodacom Business SMART solutions will help you focus on your small business and taking care of employees, while we focus on the technology to help you grow throughout the new year.

    James Francis