One of the best ways for a business to remain competitive is for it to get ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. For larger businesses, a tech-forward approach is absolutely essential for survival; for smaller businesses, it can be a good way to gain some separation from the pack, and possibly compete with larger companies that have more resources.
[This is a contributed post by Jonathan Correll]
Establishing a tech-forward approach is a continual process, and it calls for the people in charge of a business to be willing to remain perpetually open to adaptation and innovation.
To help get you started though, if you’re considering how your business could better implement modern technology, we’re identifying five tech trends that can help just about any modern company in one way or another.
1. Social Commerce
Social commerce isn’t necessarily a technology, so much as a blend between other technologies. More specifically, it is the blend between social media and eCommerce by which consumers are now, in some cases, able to pay for products or services directly through companies’ social media posts.
Previously, our blog post ‘20 Excellent Places to Look for Strategic Risk in a Company’ touched on advertising and marketing campaigns, asking the question of how effective such campaigns might be in generating leads and sales. This is an important question for your business to consider with regard to its overall advertising and marketing approach. However, social commerce can actually help you to ensure that your digital marketing efforts are capable of directly generating sales. You’ll need to study up on how to make it work, but basically, implementing social commerce just means taking advantage of tools that already exist on major social platforms, and tailoring your posts to incentivize purchases.
2. VR Growth
Some have more or less given up on virtual reality, simply because it didn’t sweep the tech world the way many wanted it to. But the truth is that this remains a budding tech trend every business should be keeping tabs on.
Roughly two years ago, Quartz covered a VR projection that indicated the technology could be “as big as Netflix” within five years. That’s a glossy way of putting things, but the specific projection was for there to be some 55 million active VR headsets in the U.S. market alone, by 2022. If VR does in fact achieve that number or anything particularly close to it, it will have reached a point at which it distinctly matters as a marketing tool for businesses.
Granted, it is now 2020 and we don’t quite seem to be seeing such explosive growth. But VR is growing, even if it’s doing so slowly, and eventually there could be a “boom” in its popularity. At that point, with tens of millions of consumers regularly engaging with the tech, businesses will need to be prepared to find ways to make themselves relevant in the new medium.
3. PCB Design Improvement
Your business is unlikely to get into the PCB (printed circuit board) market directly, unless you happen to manufacture electronics. However, this is still a trend to be aware of, because it provides some insights as to the expanding capabilities of numerous tech devices — particularly in the Internet-of-Things space — that may benefit your business.
Historically, PCB design has been a difficult process that relied on expensive tools, which in turn made it hard or engineers to collaborate. Now, however, better design systems are enabling easier creative work, and thus better end products. Altium posted an article about PCB viewers that shows what’s changed, essentially getting the point across that PCB design programs now make it easy for multiple engineers to digitally view and edit projects. This means more collaboration, more intricate design, and smoother progress from digital to physical rendering.
It is these ongoing improvements, in part, that have produced much smaller and more versatile PCBs. And these tiny electrical components are essentially serving as the brains behind innumerable pieces of tech that are now available to businesses. Maintaining an awareness of further advances in this space can keep you and your business in tune with the capabilities of some of these pieces of tech, from data-gathering sensors worked into supply chains, to interactive Bluetooth devices in stores, to product-tracking and performance-monitoring devices in warehouses. The PCBs being used in these devices will often clue you in to what they’re really capable of, and how they can help.
4. Chatbot Usage
You might see the word “chatbot” and immediately think of it as a sort of clunky technology that you’d rather not interact with personally. This is a reputation that some early iterations of chatbot tech earned. When we first started seeing this tech deployed on websites, many found it to be intrusive, or irritatingly robotic. It’s important now, however, to let go of that perception and embrace the idea of chatbots that can actually be incredibly useful.
Business Insider’s look at chatbot examples in active businesses does a nice job of demonstrating that this technology has truly changed. The examples speak to faster onboarding time for new customers, more personalized service and responses, and even an ability to tailor services to a customer’s mood. Not to mention that more generally, chatbot interactions with customers can double as data-gathering efforts for the business.
Because of these benefits, as well as the general improvement in the technology, there is a widespread trend toward the implementation of chatbots that your business might do well to capitalize on.
5. AI Integration
AI is the foundation for numerous modern business trends — but it can seem somewhat inaccessible. There’s a perception that it’s only for massive companies with budgets for advanced technology. That isn’t necessarily the case, however, as Business-2-Community’s peek at small businesses and AI makes clear.
That write-up points to multiple ways in which smaller businesses are beginning to take advantage of automated technologies. The first way mentioned is in fact the use of chatbots, which we spoke to above. Additionally however, the article points to automated data analysis, AI-driven recruitment and hiring, and AI-based marketing efforts. All of these can transform a modern business, and the specific practices have become more accessible than you might expect.
About the Author
Jonathan Correll is a business writer with an interest in covering how the global workforce is changing. As technology comes to dominant business he believes that leaders need to constantly adapt to avoid getting left behind. He writes articles that help consumers keep up with the latest trends.