After a year full of disruptions and an explosion of new trends, small businesses are settling into a new working routine. This includes a remote workforce that will need to collaborate with onsite employees, a human resources department tech savvy enough to build company culture remotely and a growing emphasis on data, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. What’s more, small businesses need to navigate it all with an eye toward business objectives and growth.
These are areas of expertise for this year’s crop of top small business IT influencers. These executives, speakers and podcast hosts know how to use tech to take smaller organizations to the next level — and how to do it in today’s unprecedented working climate. From Twitter to LinkedIn and YouTube, here are 30 small business IT influencers to follow in 2021.
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Technology is key to changing the way employees work, and that has never been more true than after this year's unprecedented disruptions. The a16z Podcast, which discusses technology, innovation and the changes they bring to our daily lives, covers everything small businesses need to know, from company-building to trends and culture.
In addition to being the global head of machine learning business development for Amazon Web Services, Allie K. Miller is a top voice in technology. Her millions of followers stretch across LinkedIn and Twitter, where she comments on the latest in ML and artificial intelligence and shares insights on business and career growth. Small businesses can turn to Miller for everything having to do with data science and scaling.
The top challenge facing small businesses right now is navigating remote work. Andreas Klinger is one of the leading minds in that realm, promoting the practice long before the pandemic changed the nature of work. The former head of remote at AngelList is an investor in Remote First Capital, a group that invests in the next generation of remote work. Small businesses can follow him for the latest insights on how to get the most out of a distributed workforce.
As the founder and CEO of Small Business Trends, Anita Campbell is an authoritative voice when it comes to small business. Her organization covers the latest in IT and presents practical ways for organizations to make the most of what’s new. Campbell’s industry leadership is backed by a following in the hundreds of thousands.
The convergence of HR and technology has evolved greatly during the pandemic. Anita Lettink is at the forefront of this union, founding HRTechRadar, a community that details the latest in HR technology tools. With a focus on startups, Lettink’s organization is a great resource for small businesses looking to properly staff, grow and develop company culture.
Anurag Agrawal remains at the forefront of digital transformation at a time when nearly every business leader is using that term. His Techaisle blog is a great resource on the topic, taking Agrawal’s small business background and marrying it with data experience. He has cultivated a strong following, helping IT suppliers connect the dots across emerging trends.
During the pandemic, technology has been used to connect people in new ways, allowing humanity to flourish despite social distancing restrictions. This is Brian Solis’s area of expertise. The bestselling author and keynote speaker explores digital trends and their impacts on various industries. Small businesses can gain useful insights into emerging digital strategies.
For small businesses looking to get the most out of their data strategies, look no further than Cindi Howson. The host of The Data Chief podcast uses more than two decades of experience in data and business intelligence to help guide organizations through their data journeys. Howson also keeps an eye toward the culture changes that come with expanded data use and integration.
The rise of data continues across businesses and industries, and thought leaders like Claudia Imhoff can provide valuable insight for small businesses. The business intelligence expert shares the latest in data and spotlights the practical ways organizations can get the most out of related technology. Imhoff is also an author and a sought-after speaker on the topic.
Bridging the gap between data and insights is crucial for business success, and Craig Brown has specialized expertise in that area. Brown pairs a deep technological background with experience in business strategy, demonstrating how businesses can get the most out of the data they’re collecting. Small businesses in particular can follow Brown for the latest trends — and how they can lead to growth.
A business’s social climate is quickly becoming a major factor for success, and this is where digitalundivided comes in. The social enterprise, founded by tech pioneer Kathryn Finney, empowers Black and Latina women to start their own businesses with a focus on tech. The group has high-powered partners such as Google and Microsoft, which provide mentorship and programs for aspiring entrepreneurs. Follow DID for insights into growing your business with a focus on diversity and inclusion.
The phrase “future of work” has been uttered almost as often as “new normal” over the past year as businesses gauge how more than 12 months of working remotely will impact their long-term operations. Dion Hinchcliffe is an expert in this area. The author and keynote speaker works extensively on the topics of cloud and digital workspaces. SMBs can use his insights as they develop their plans.
There likely isn’t an entrepreneur out there who hasn’t heard of Gary Vaynerchuk, better known as Gary Vee. The bestselling author and podcast host is a top voice in the startup space, focusing on business growth. But Vaynerchuk also shares insights into technology trends such as data science and emerging fields like virtual reality. Startups and growth-minded small businesses stand to gain from his tech insights.
Jewel Burks Solomon may work for one of the most valuable tech companies in the world, but her work is all about the little guy. As the head of Google for Startups in the U.S., it’s her job to extend Google’s hand to businesses looking to get off the ground, helping them grow and flourish. Solomon’s Twitter feed is full of advice on using tech to grow a business, as well as the latest news from Google’s program.
An author and industry analyst focusing on Big Data, analytics and the cloud, Judith Hurwitz discusses how businesses can use things like artificial intelligence and machine learning to streamline their operations and encourage growth. She shares her insights as a frequent speaker and roundtable participant, as well as on Twitter.
Karen Kerrigan is a strong advocate for small businesses and entrepreneurship. As the CEO of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, she helps cultivate growth for organizations through tech, providing resources to help businesses succeed. Her Twitter feed is full of practical advice for those looking to use IT to help achieve business goals.
Diversity and inclusion have become priorities for businesses after 2020 brought a renewed focus on inequity. This has been especially true in the tech industry, and one of the top leaders in the space is Kimberly Bryant. Bryant is the founder of Black Girls Code, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of women of color in the digital space. The group teaches girls about computer science and technology, with programs in cybersecurity and business development and events to encourage entrepreneurship.
As CEO of the chat marketing platform MobileMonkey, Larry Kim specializes in helping businesses use tech to reach their customers. His Twitter feed ranges from Microsoft Windows shortcuts to the various uses of augmented reality.
Maribel Lopez tracks the latest in hot tech topics, such as AI and IoT. The speaker, writer and analyst fills her Twitter feed with insights into the ethics of AI, the challenges of cybersecurity in remote work and the potential of cloud computing.
Remote work has brought HR and IT departments together to deliver for customers and employees. Meghan M. Biro is the CEO of TalentCulture, a platform focused on the latest in HR technology. Small businesses can learn how to attract and retain talent via the organization’s website, as well as through Biro's Twitter chat and podcast about work trends.
Melinda Emerson is a powerhouse in the entrepreneurial space. The author and podcast host helps startups and small businesses navigate everything from tax season to collaboration tech. Lately, Emerson has been posting about pandemic-era issues for small businesses, like how to be resilient and weather a crisis.
Small businesses must keep an eye to the future, and that means keeping an open mind about what working will look like. Helping inform that vision is Paul Millerd, an expert in working from home and the future of work. In addition to his Twitter feed full of insights into our current working climate, he also authors a newsletter and hosts a podcast called Reimagine Work.
Ethics has been a recent topic of discussion with regard to data science, and this work is Rachel Thomas’ area of expertise. She is the director of the University of San Francisco Center for Applied Data Ethics, where she researches the consequences of data — both intentional and unintentional. Thomas spreads her thought leadership through extensive speaking engagements, published works and her Twitter feed.
IT is for everyone. That’s the message of Ramon Ray, editor at SmallBiz Technology. A speaker and author, Ray focuses his leadership around helping “main street” small businesses capitalize on the latest IT trends, even those that may seem out of reach. His work aims to educate organizations that may have limited IT knowledge and resources, empowering them to harness technology for growth.
Turning data into value is one of the most crucial goals small businesses can achieve. Ronald van Loon is a data, IoT and AI expert who helps organizations make this leap. He offers his thought leadership in the field through speaking engagements and an active Twitter presence.
Sam Charrington is a must-follow for all things AI and machine learning. Host of the AI-centered TWIML AI Podcast, Charrington’s Twitter feed tackles topics from bias in analytics to worker wellness. Follow him for the latest in all things data.
Another strong voice in the area of remote work, Scott Dawson brings distributed workforce tips to businesses. His book, The Art of Working Remotely, offers a guide to remaining productive outside of the office. Dawson also hosts a the #RemoteChat on Twitter, where followers can share their challenges and triumphs. Small businesses can gain valuable insights to help shape their remote work policies.
Those who follow Simon Porter get a little bit of everything that’s top of mind for IT leaders right now: data, IoT, cloud and digital HR trends. Porter tweets about the role of digital in remote work, business agility and customer relationships. Small businesses looking to build resilience can benefit from his insights.
Small businesses have been at the center of government resourcing throughout the pandemic. The Small Business Technology Coalition looks at those resources through the lens of technology and how digital tools can help SMBs launch and grow. The Small Business Administration subsidiary focuses on resources that cover areas like cybersecurity awareness and preparedness for disruption.
Tamara McCleary is a leading voice in AI, IoT and digital transformation. The speaker and podcast host shares content about topics ranging from digital payments and leadership to responsible AI and using marketing to enhance cybersecurity training for employees. McCleary’s holistic approach to digital products is useful for small businesses looking to connect the dots for their leaders.