Google Vice President of Product Management Mario Queiroz shows the new Google Home during Google I/O 2016. JustinSullivan/Staff/GettyImagesNews

6 smart office trends to watch in 2019

Get out your Christmas list: What your farm office needs for the new year.

In 2018, lots of useful — and useless — tools were offered to small businesses. And 2019 will be the year of adopting processes based on these new resources. Here are six smart office predictions for 2019. Click on the links to learn more.

Cloud-based office software.If you have not adopted it already, cloud-based office software that is subscription-based will continue to increase in use in 2019. Office 365 is the most popular, but Google’s G Suite is also a strong competitor. You can access and edit all of your documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more from your desktop or mobile device, while all of your files sync to the cloud. Consider: Office 365 Business, $8.25 per user per month, or G Suite Business, $10 per user per month.

An Internet of Things that learns.This year the buzz was all about machine learning, artificial intelligence and IoT. Expect more products with these features. Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home all have sync capabilities with smart home products which let you set up routines for your devices. Start the coffee, listen to your favorite playlist, send a daily hello to your family or team, and even schedule lights to go on and off — all controlled by your digital assistants. Consider: Google Home starting at $29 per unit, or Amazon Echo starting at $49.99.

Expanded digital banking.More financial institutions invest in convenience for their customers, offering website and mobile app platforms that let them make deposits, review transactions and pay bills without a trip to the mailbox or a teller. In 2019, anticipate accelerated web-based financial transactions, and if you have not yet, sync your bank transactions with your accounting software to save time. Consider: Quickbooks Online accounting software starting at $10 per month.

Online security is a high priority.Expect an increase in online cyber-attacks in the next year. The weakest link in online security continues to be humans. Poor password security and failure to update operating systems leave individuals and businesses vulnerable. Ensure your company is using a password manager; software that prevents viruses, malware and ransomware; and backup software. You cannot prevent all attacks, but you can take steps to reduce your risk. Consider: LastPass password manager starting at $2.42 per month for teams, or Avast Small Business antivirus starting at $31.99 per month.

More internet for rural, but problems persist. As wireless networks expand in rural areas due to ongoing advocacy for rural broadband and commercial interests, you will see an increase in speed and availability. However, you will still notice a vast difference in cost, speed and connectivity as compared to urban areas. Farm offices may still have to get creative in expanding their coverage from wired connections. Consider: Ayrstone AyrMeshSystem (price varies depending on need).

The mobile office becomes a reality.You are likely already taking advantage of email and connected apps while in the farm office or the tractor. In 2019, you can expect that nearly, if not all, of your service providers will offer a mobile app, mobile website or Bluetooth technology option to interact with accounts or equipment on your farm. Consider: 10W Qi wireless car charger mount for easy, quick charging in the field or on the road.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 

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