Business technology trends are expected to be more influential than ever in 2019. Growing excitement over artificial intelligence is turning customer experience into an entertaining, highly personalized, and outcome-driven series of interactions. Machine learning is positioned to help employees free themselves from repetitive work and make decisions with incredible speed, precision, and insight. Even predictive analytics is evolving into a must-have requirement for moving the business ahead while taking action on emerging risks and opportunities early on.

If you believe this rush of digital investments is only reserved for your largest competitors, think again. The evolution may have been gradual and gone unnoticed, but one look at our coverage over this past year shows five substantial reasons why most midsize businesses are ready for what’s ahead. (Watch the video, Becoming an Insights-Driven Midsize Business)

1. Analytics and the cloud revealed stunning opportunities

At the beginning of 2018, it became apparent that midsize businesses were entering into an entirely new era of intelligence. Subscription pricing for cloud technology is more in line with the stages of a growing business. Data security concerns are being addressed, with data centers complying with ever-tightening government and industry regulations and certifications. The analytics capabilities needed to sharpen decision-making and handle profoundly predictable changes are improving.

All of these changes are ushering the next wave of analytics innovation. From machine learning and artificial intelligence to digital assistants and blockchain, midsize businesses can compete like a large enterprise—with the speed and agility of a startup.

2. A formidable weapon emerged to confront the most significant competitors

Oxford Economics reported that 82% of midsize retailers are focusing on digital investments that provide the same kind of meaningful insights that industry giants are using—without a substantial investment in multiple technologies.

Affordable cloud subscriptions are helping midsize businesses—especially retailers—access a range of analytics tools on a single platform. Whether they are in a meeting room, remote office, or the sales floor, decision-makers can access data, derive insights, and share intelligence without flipping between multiple screens or requiring an IT professional or data scientist to intervene.

3. Mastery of insights for all began to prove the value of data

Growing companies are ditching their spreadsheets, static dashboards, and in-house reporting templates to deliver the promise of insights for all. And they are accomplishing this approach without significant capital investment; vendor and technology lock-in; and intense resource drain.

Take, for example, Live Oak Bank, a company that is using cloud analytics to run fully transparent budget cycles, spot trends with clear data visualization, provide a more personalized and responsive user experience, and model processes with flexibility. In return, the originator of small-business loans is using data as a living asset to deliver the best insights on customer needs anytime, anywhere.

4. Midsize businesses found sustainable growth in insights, not data 

Midsize businesses are heeding the advice of top technology thought leaders to move away from data-driven decision-making to an approach that is squarely focused on insight. Forrester Consulting indicated that this game-changing strategy can yield a staggering 30% average annual growth in a global economy, where GDP is expected to increase by only 3.5% each year.

The combination of analytics and the cloud is helping companies scale data management and analytics capabilities as business needs evolve. More importantly, it is setting the foundation necessary to make thoroughly informed decisions that allow intelligent growth in a highly unpredictable marketplace.

5. Renewed focus on data management created more trust in decision-making 

Even if midsize companies were knowledgeable about data management in the past, things have shifted so much over the last three years that their existing rules most likely no longer apply. More data sources and raw information are flooding business systems—all of which have to be connected and allow the flexibility to move operations as quickly as the rest of the world.

Renewing their data management mindset and strategy empowers businesses to give their users a reason to trust the data they use. Whether they are pinpointing everything from potential cost savings and revenue growth opportunities to gaps in regulatory and policy compliance, decision-makers know that they are getting the precise insights necessary to deliver desirable outcomes.

What’s Coming in 2019? More Mature Opportunities to Grow Fast Intelligently

2018 has been a year of transformation for many midsize businesses. By adopting new technologies, platforms, and mindsets, they are fueling tremendous growth with insight-driven outcomes.

Most importantly, growing companies are creating the foundation to adopt a range of intelligent technologies that deliver on the most significant promise of 2019—accurate, real-time decisions that disrupt the competition and inspire ground-breaking business models.

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This article originally appeared in the SAP D!gitalist magazine.