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Top tech trends for professional services firms in 2016

To stay agile and adaptable, professional services firms must embrace new technologies in 2016.

There are four key types of technology that will be most beneficial for companies in the industry this year, according to Industry Week. These include cloud-based applications, reliable data networks, mobile interfaces and business analytics applications.

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that there were 760,000 professional services firms in the U.S. in 2012, with 7.8 million people employed by the industry. These firms generated a total of $1.5 trillion that year.

4 key tech trends
According to IW, there is room to grow.

Cloud software is improving talent management by providing a cost-effective way to train employees and develop new skills. According to IW, spending on learning and development at companies increased by 12 percent in 2015, the highest growth rate in nearly a decade. As spending on training grows, so do investments in cloud software. From just 2012 to 2013, spending on cloud-enabled HR systems rose 22 percent to reach nearly $4 billion dollars, and this number is expected to climb even higher in the next few years.

As cloud and mobile technologies expand, digital infrastructure needs to become more dependable and professional services firms will benefit from having reliable data networks. This year, spending on software as a service is expected to rise even higher into the billions of dollars. Adoption of enterprise resource planning software alone is predicted to reach nearly $35 billion in 2016.

Professional services firms also need to enhance their mobile offerings for both internal use and their customers, reported IW. It is not just smartphones that need to be considered – tablets and other devices are also on the rise. Some 53 million tablets are expected to be sold this year.

The fourth tech tool IW identified was business analytics applications. Two out of five professional services firms presently take advantage of these programs, which help companies manage customer relations, project workflows, risk analysis and other important functions.

Proprietary tech
While cloud-based software and mobile applications can be bought from third parties, proprietary technology – or software created by a company in-house – will give professional services firms a competitive edge in 2016, according to Forbes. By designing software applications themselves, companies can create systems that boast enhanced efficiency and meet the unique needs of both employees and clients.