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Working with numerous small businesses in the Chicago area, we have been seeing some obvious and no so obvious trends. Here are just a handful of trends that we have recognized.

Cloud-based Email

Moving to the cloud for email services is a very common trend.  The potential risks and also the general work needed to keep an internal email service seem to no be worth it for most small business. Even IT consulting firms see the advantages of just outsourcing or hosting the email systems. For one there are various goodies included like SPAM filters and virus protection, but overall the peace of mind is well worth losing the control of managing an in-house system.

Voice over IP systems

VoIP phones are definitely becoming more common. The competition is fierce and overall the quality as the speeds of Internet has going up are quite good. Most VoIP system are easy to implement also, some as easy as just plugging into your network booting it up.

NAS (Network Array Storage) Devices

NAS drives replacing file servers. The simplicity of a NAS drive has made it easy to replace the need for file storage with them. Since now they offer better features such as RAID hard drive systems and also backup (local and cloud) solutions. They also have higher capacity storage and intelligent apps that can installed on them for monitoring, backup and offsite syncing.

Tablets and iPad Devices

An influx of tablet solutions such as iPads and Microsoft Surface is another common trend. These devices allow a light weight portable device that medical practices and other businesses can adopt for a convenient way to input data, take notes or just have handy. Most tablet system can be integrated into the network using wireless devices and even be setup with printers using AirPrint or other protocols with specific printers.