Written by: Kevin Gardner
An important part of growing a business is keeping up with the latest technologies. Successful entrepreneurs know how to gauge culture and tell the difference between a fleeting tech trend and a groundbreaking advancement. Not all new achievements are here to last, but a few seem destined to shake up the world of business in the coming years. Here are five technologies that will transform the way you do business in the information age.
1. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing generally refers to data storage and computing power available to many users via the internet. For business, it means that not only can information now be stored remotely from workplace devices but that raw processing power doesn't depend entirely on the end user's device. This allows apps on a smartphone to have an incredible range of capabilities and thus enables the decentralization of work. Testing and development services, data analytics, and the Google Kubernetes Engine (gke) are only a few examples of the many applications of cloud technology driving greater productivity in business.
2. Big Data
The global growth of data over the past two decades has been unprecedented. As of 2020, there were approximately 44 zettabytes of data online. That's likely to grow to 175 zettabytes by 2025. For businesses, that means more refined and nuanced insights via marketing research and business analytics. Both retailers and suppliers can leverage the knowledge of consumer habits discovered through social media content to make better sales and marketing decisions, and analytical software is getting better at using data about the past performance of a business to better predict future success. Like the adage says, when we know better, we do better.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
One of the most visible advancements driving digital business solutions has been the emergence of robust artificial intelligence (AI) tools. Machine learning is the ability of these programs to learn on their own and be able to implement choices and make guesses when given data. The utility of this technology can be summed up in one word: automation. Chatbots have become so sophisticated that they can answer simple queries as well as a human, which makes customer service more hands-off for businesses and more on-demand for consumers. Sales campaigns can be streamlined through customer relationship automation software and automatic marketing copy generators. Letting machines do the drudgework frees human workers to do what we do best, which is think creatively.
4. Remote Communication Tools
During the global health crisis of 2020, working from home became a necessity. As the world gets back to normal, it's becoming clear that some inventions born of necessity are here to stay simply because they were great ideas. Working remotely is one of those. In fact, studies show that remote workers are up to 14% more productive than their office-bound counterparts. Remote communication systems like Skype and Zoom made it easy to connect workers across the globe and it doesn't end there. Project management programs like Basecamp include team communication systems (like text communication and message boards) as part of a larger, comprehensive management platform.
5. Smart Devices
There's a lot of buzz about the so-called "Internet of Things" or IoT. This just means that anything with an on/off switch can be connected to the internet and made more useful, from coffee machines to security systems. In fact, smart locks can be controlled entirely from one manager's phone. Another IoT application is in wearable augmented reality systems. These devices (often in the form of glasses) enhance the real-world experience by overlaying digitally-generated perceptual information.
This can literally be a lifesaver when it makes vital safety information available at a glance to construction workers, but it also makes for a revolution in retail shopping. The Rolex app already allows customers to virtually try on watches before they buy them, and this way of shopping will likely become more widespread as the technology matures and diversifies.
As digital technology progresses, new innovations will bring about new opportunities for business owners. These five tech trends will help you learn more about your own business and better serve your customers.