Just a few decades ago, if you walked into an office, you’d see employees tapping away on typewriters and chatting away on landline phones. If one worker wanted to communicate with another, it meant getting up and walking to that person’s desk, rather than sending a HipChat or an email. But technology continues to evolve, always impacting the way business leaders hire, market, budget and protect their investments.
Experts have long predicted technology will someday replace many of the jobs done by humans. However, history has shown that as jobs become obsolete, new opportunities open up. Today’s students are encouraged to prepare for technology-based jobs like data analysis and computer programming, whereas four decades ago they would have been steered toward an education for an administrative or a sales position. Technology has also transformed hiring, with the internet allowing workers to complete their duties from home or another remote location. This has the added benefit of giving businesses access to a global talent pool that allows them to hire specialized, experienced workers at affordable rates.
Thanks to social media and the internet, reaching consumers is easier than ever. Using a do-it-yourself website tool and various social platforms, even the newest small business can post content that helps interested customers find them. Instead of paying third parties for advertising in print or electronic media, today’s businesses are in charge of their own customer outreach. The result is a reduced cost that levels the playing field between large corporations and startups.
Another area where the technological environment has evened things out is the overhead associated with running a business. Companies sell their items online, which means they don’t need a brick-and-mortar storefront. The cost of starting a new business has dropped dramatically in recent years, since founders can now launch a venture from home as a side gig. There’s no need to travel to land new clients, because researching and reaching out to potential customers can all be done online. And, instead of hiring a bookkeeper or an assistant, entrepreneurs find that software handles all of the early-stage functions they need.
One area where the impact of technology on business has brought both positives and negatives is security. Having so much information on internet-connected servers means it’s susceptible to theft. Data breaches can be devastating to a new business without the resources to handle it, with the average incident costing small businesses about $36,000. Businesses now need to put significant effort into securing their networks and all connected devices, which often means paying a monthly fee for top-tier cloud hosting and software to keep equipment safe. This has also opened up opportunities for tech specialists in the cybersecurity arena, where experts are in high demand.
Today's technology has completely changed some businesses as well as creating entire business niches that never even existed before. Business owners run their companies from laptops, tablets and smartphones, never even considering opening a brick-and-mortar presence.
The daily environment in existing businesses has changed immensely, too. Office workers often spend part of their week working remotely from home or on the road. Business meetings no longer mean driving long distances as teleconferencing means getting everyone together online. Many offices are now paperless, keeping all their documents in the cloud, while others use online chat technology to keep teams in constant communication.