If you are running a small business or a startup business, there are several trends you need to be aware of that will help you move forward.
Small businesses can no longer afford to hide their heads in the sand and pretend that the old ways of doing business is going to cut it. There are already businesses ahead of you that know and understand technology and are using technology in their businesses. In order for your business to be successful, you need to be able to keep up. Need some suggestions? We have some for you.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning
AI allows small businesses to program machines to do the routine work that human workers used to do. While AI sounds expensive, in reality, it is a money saver. For example, AI can help your business market itself through programming and programs that finds leads for your business and directs your marketing strategies without you needing to make cold calls. AI can drive customers to you. AI’s takeover of marketing allows you to focus your energy on other aspects of your business.
AI and Machine Learning allows you to set up technology once, and then it will run without you. Then you can concentrate on employee training and the interpreting of data coming into your business.
The Era of AR And VR
Augmented reality (AR) allows businesses to visualize possible realities for their business. Entertainment companies are already using AR to showcase their products. Safety and rescue operations use AR to envision how an operation needs to happen. In addition, small businesses can use AR to show customers their potential shopping experiences. There are times that the customers want to shop and see a product before they buy it, and AR allows them to try before they buy. AR is also poised to make communication in the business as well as with clients easier through conferencing.
Virtual reality (VR) will allow business to entertain and engage customers with stories about their company or the products they are buying, and become active participants in the businesses, which means that small businesses need to become familiar with virtual reality now, because it will become a feature of the business landscape in the next few years.
Blockchain Technology Grows
Blockchain technology allows ledgers to operate seamlessly, reliability, and securely via the Internet. Businesses that adapt blockchain find that because the ledgers are online, transactions are transparent, and all employees are able to view and interact with the technology as all transactions are recorded. In addition to blockchain technology, businesses have been slowly adopting cryptocurrencies, which many experts believe the country will eventually move towards in the future. Accepting cryptocurrencies for purchase through wallet technology like bitpay is one way that businesses can move forward towards the future.
Continued Cloud Migration
Increasingly, more and more companies are moving as much information to the cloud as possible. Cloud technology allows all aspects of a business to find a home online, where it can be accessed anytime from anywhere. Cloud storage is much cheaper than the old filing and filing cabinets method, and there’s zero risk of files being burned in a fire or getting damaged by water. Communications with a business phone system can also take place using cloud technology. In the future, nearly every business operation will be cloud-based, freeing up office space as well as memory and storage space on the computers in your business.
Increased Use of Managed IT
While small businesses want to use IT, they don’t want to employ an IT specialist on site, because it is not considered cost effective. However, many small businesses are moving to managed IT, where information technology specialists take over some businesses processes in order to increase productivity and decrease costs. There are several categories of managed IT: information services, which includes systems management, data backup and data recovery, network management, and HR and payroll; supply chain management, logistics, and transportation planning; marketing strategy and planning; systems operation and support services for media; and infrastructure controls such as power and water.
When businesses allow for managed IT, they can really save money and time, which they can use to promote their company, as well as work to increase their market share.
There is an increased need for cybersecurity in a world of hackers and information thieves waiting to steal your information. If there is anything worse than being hacked for information, it is when your customers find out that you have been hacked for information. When Target’s security was breached, and customers’ credit card information was stolen, the company estimated that they lost over $350 million dollars in customer sales after the public found out about the hack and loss of security. While security may be expensive, it is more expensive not to have security. Experts have noted that it is no longer enough for a company to have one level of cybersecurity, your company must have multilevel security that covers all devices as well as customer information and internet support.
Internet of Things
The internet is rapidly developing as an Internet of Things (IoT), where devices from computers to refrigerators are interconnected and accessed to the internet, constantly relaying and surveying information. As businesses become more and more a part of the IoT, small businesses must ensure they are as connected as possible, and as integrated and streamlined as possible, so that their business is able to react and respond quickly to new customer demands. Businesses that can’t or won’t connect to the IoT will quickly be left behind.
In the past, businesses used to be able to be competitive by having the best price, or the best customer service. Advertising was through word of mouth, and people relied on their neighbors for more information and pricing of products. Businesses were made and broken without the use of technology. However, that is no longer the case. The internet and digital business has changed the way all businesses work. In order to stay competitive, businesses must constantly grow and change with the changing technology. If businesses refuse to change, or think that change is too expensive, they may find themselves left in the dust. In addition, businesses may find that when they adapt to new technologies, their business becomes more streamlined, efficient and secure, which means a healthier bottom line.
Being a senior business associate, Peter Davidson strives to help different brands and start ups to make efficient business decisions and plan effective business strategies. With years of rich domain expertise, he loves to share his views on the latest technologies and applications through his well-researched content pieces. Follow him on Google+ and Twitter.