5 Tech Trends Revolutionizing Small Business
Think you need to be an industry giant to use the latest in tech? Think again.
Technology advances exponentially, meaning that it’s progressing at a faster rate than ever before, and it’s helping us to tackle old problems in new and exciting ways. From business analytics to customer service, technology is driving increased productivity and effectiveness.
However, although this revolution has made technology more accessible than ever, it’s also posed a problem for small business owners who worry about failing behind. A 2017 survey revealed that small and midsize business owners view technology, specifically using the right technology, as their number one challenge.
They’re right to worry. As our society becomes more dependent on technology, it will become painfully obvious when businesses lack in technological know-how, and the gap between the tech-savvy and the technological Luddites will grow.
That’s why it’s important for business owners to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in technology. Although it’s not necessary (or recommended) that they jump on every fad that pops up, having a working knowledge of tech and an openness to trying new things is an essential part of business.
5 Tech Trends That are Changing the Way We Do Business
1. Artificial Intelligence
The tools that we call A.I., such as personal voice assistants and chatbots, aren’t strictly considered artificial intelligence, not yet anyway.
True artificial intelligence has the ability to learn and reason independently. (Think Dolores and company from Westworld.) We aren’t quite at that stage yet, but we do have many tools that are capable of realistically mimicking human thought and speech. As a result, automation is slowly replacing some human roles in business (for better or worse).
One of the most common applications of A.I. comes from chatbots. These simple programs can handle commonly asked questions in record time. Some businesses are even using A.I. to predict consumer behavior and deliver customized experiences and advertisements.
Although ethical issues arise from replacing human jobs with A.I., if used correctly, this technology can help assist workers in doing their job better.
2. Virtual Offices
The ability to work remotely is revolutionizing modern business. So you can forget worrying about overhead! Now your employees can now work from anywhere in the world.
With the emergence of cloud computing technology, employees can access data and collaborate on projects with other teammates from anywhere they have an internet connection. In big cities where the cost of living in astronomical (I’m looking at you San Francisco), employers save on salary costs because workers are no longer required to live within commuting distance.
You’ve probably heard this term in connection with crytocurrency. Regardless of your perspective on the controversial investment, the power of blockchain technology should not be underestimated.
So what exactly is blockchain? It is an incorruptible digital ledger that maintains a linear record of transactions. Each transaction is known as a “block,” and, once it’s added to the existing “blockchain,” it cannot be falsified or deleted. Originally created for digital currency transactions, techies are currently working on adapting the technology to potentially create a digital record for anything of value.
With cyber security being a major concern in modern business, blockchain may offer a solution. Although we’re still a long way off from seeing blockchain used in small business settings, it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.
4. Augmented Reality
The widely popular Pokemon Go mobile game served as many people’s first introduction to augmented reality (AR). For those who haven’t had an experience with AR, the idea behind the tech is simple. AR uses existing technology, like headsets or smartphones, to display augmented images over your real-world environment.
Imagine a real estate agent giving a tour to a prospective buyer without either of them having to leave their home, or think of being able to show a customer exactly how a piece of furniture will look in their home without having to move it from the store. Those are the possibilities that augmented reality is offering.
Not only will augmented reality have an impact on customer experience, but it can also play a part in employee training exercises. With augmented reality, employers can run workers through specific on-the-job scenarios, meaning that the employee will be much more polished and experienced when the real challenge comes along. Also, employee training can be costly when working with real-life resources, so instead of risking the potential destruction of valuable resources, an employee can practice in AR prior to tackling the real thing.
5. Big Data in Small Business
Data used to live locked away in filing cabinets and dusty ledgers. Although this information had the potential to shed valuable light on consumer behavior, it remained mostly untouched due to the administrative and financial burden of analyzing it. Only big businesses had the budget and manpower to navigate complicated and costly systems to mine data insights.
However, as this technology becomes more common (and thus less expensive), plenty of services are helping small businesses transform their data into consumer insights. Google Analytics is one such example. The free service allows businesses to see how users are interacting with their website —including where the traffic comes from, what users click on, and how long they stay on a page.
And it doesn’t stop there. Paid services offer even more in-depth information on consumer behavior and can even help businesses to predict the future. By analyzing purchasing history, demographics, and engagement, these services can help businesses to tweak their marketing campaigns and personalize their advertising to appeal to a customer at each stage of their purchasing decision.
What are your thought on these newest developments in tech? Is your small business up-to-date on the latest technology? Let me know in the comments!