The economic challenges of the last several years caused many SMBs to move cautiously with technology investments. At the same time, small business owners are trying to find ways to compete more effectively, cut costs, and adapt to the changing markets. Technology offers potential ways for SMBs to achieve business goals.

With tighter budgets and closer oversight, SMBs may sometimes be more cautious about technology investments over all. As I’ve read a variety of researchers like Gartner, Forrestor, and SMB World, I’ve seen four trends consistently mentioned across the spectrum:

Virtualization – Virtualization may seem like a technology that’s been around for a few years, but actually many businesses were slow to adopt due to initial infrastructure investment and cautious technology management. For many businesses, now is the time to virtualize. Server virtualization can improve efficiency by consolidating multiple application workloads on fewer servers. This can reduce costs, simplify infrastructure management, improve application delivery and prepare the business for effective cloud utilization.

Cloud Computing – Some SMBs jumped on the cloud for fast savings, and then regretted their action due to performance issues, lack of service and support, and more. In the long term, some form of cloud strategy may help reduce costs and speed performance on specific projects. The challenge is completing the due diligence of storage analysis and needs before making any strategic decisions.

Mobility – The era of the mobile computing is here whether businesses like it or not. Many small and large businesses alike have tried to simply ignore mobile issues or block mobile devices. This is not a strategy and in the end may fail as employees continue to use devices on some level. Mobility is opening greater possibilities for collaboration, customer engagement, real time responsiveness and more. Many SMBs recognize this trend and are investing time and resources to develop an effective, supportable solution.

Security – Choosing not to invest in security is simply not an option. For years, many SMBs simply relied on out-of-the-box solutions for all their security needs. Now more and more businesses are recognizing the priority of a robust security security strategy with customized firewalls, penetration testing, malware prevention, and central security monitoring and management tools.