The availability of faster local storage will benefit small business in the form of workstations and laptops that just perform faster. Alternatively, businesses may also opt to prolong the lifespan of existing workstations or laptops with a strategic upgrade to an SSD or HHD.
6. Tablets, tablets everywhere
If you thought you've seen enough of tablets this year, wait till the next generation of tablets lands in 2012. You can get the full scoop on what to expect with tablets in 2012; a quick roundup would include the iPad 3, tablets based on Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich," Windows 8 tablets, and version 2.0 of the BlackBerry PlayBook OS.
The onslaught of tablets goes both ways. For one, agile SMBs that successfully leverage tablets can bolster their competitive advantage and achieve greater work efficiencies. The obvious challenges, though, would be the associated headache of trying to manage so many disparate platforms and the risks inherent to developing for such rapidly evolving devices.
7. BYOD goes to smaller businesses
BYOD, or "bring your own device," is a term used to describe the use of personal devices in the office. BYOD will become an accepted business practice in 2012 for small businesses, even as the arrival of more powerful smartphones, tablets, and ultrathin laptops trigger an avalanche of such devices into the workplace.
This is a mixed blessing for SMBs as employees start using their favorite duo (or trio) of Wi-Fi gadgets at work. While an IT-savvy workforce is certainly better than a tech-illiterate one, one downside may be the potential overloading of networks as the density of wireless devices increase beyond what the network was originally designed for. Moreover, administrators may find themselves badgered with support requests that may not necessarily be work-related.
8. Small business finds apps on the cloud
It's entirely possible for businesses to set up an online presence without having to purchase a single hardware server today. After all, services such as online storage, B2B services, Web hosting, email, collaboration, even productivity suites (Google Apps, Office 365) can be purchased online with nothing more than a credit card.
Moving forward, we expect startups and SMBs to ride hard on this trend as a means to circumvent traditional infrastructure and hardware barriers, making use of online services so that they can concentrate on their primary focus of doing business. We would have used the word "cloud computing" too, except that these businesses won't care what it's called by then.
9. Gigabit wireless starts replacing Ethernet
Two organizations are known to be working toward gigabit wireless at the moment, with limited product shipments expected to arrive in 2012. The Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig) operates on the 60GHz band and supports bus protocols such as PCI Express and USB; the IEEE 802.11ac operates on 5GHz and can provide throughputs of more than 1Gbps and backwards compatibility with 802.11n. For now, research by ABI Research predicts that IEEE 802.11ac will emerge as the dominant Wi-Fi protocol by 2014.