The business landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years. New technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence and cloud computing allow organizations to gain a better understanding of their target market and get more done in less time. Due to the advent of the internet, small businesses can now compete with big industry players. Even if you’re just getting started, you can use digital technology to put your products in front of a global audience and increase brand awareness.
Modern Technology Used in Business
Companies worldwide are investing heavily in new technology. Many have their own IT departments and use advanced software for data analytics, marketing and customer segmentation. Some rely on HR management platforms to streamline payroll, employee onboarding and other time-consuming tasks. There are also businesses that integrate virtual reality into their daily operations.
There are endless examples of technology in business, including social media. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 84 percent of small businesses are using at least one digital platform to share information with their audience. About 80 percent advertise products and services on social networks. Furthermore, 62 percent of small enterprises say that having strong digital and media skills is a key factor in the recruiting process.
Artificial intelligence, or AI, has been a game changer for small and large organizations alike. In 2016, 32 percent of software and IT companies invested in this technology. AI is also being used in the banking, telecommunications, research, retail and health care industries. More than half of CMOs believe that artificial intelligence will impact the marketing landscape to a greater extent than social media did.
Another modern technology used in business is VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol. Organizations across all industries are using it to make international phone calls and hold video conferences over the internet. With VoIP, your business can save money and become more productive. The latest VoIP solutions integrate AI, 5G connectivity and enhanced security features.
The different types of technology available today enable businesses to grow quicker, save time and deliver a superior customer experience. They also lead to improved work performance and cost savings. Large organizations, for example, are using advanced AI algorithms to research and segment their prospects, create accurate buyer personas and produce laser-targeted product and service recommendations.
The State of B2B Technology
Business-to-business companies rely on modern technology to generate leads, process data and automate their marketing efforts. Some are even integrating events into marketing automation platforms. This allows them to deliver a more personalized experience and increase post-event sales. In 2017, 58.9 percent of U.S. businesses used Salesforce to manage event data. Another 39.7 percent integrated B2B events into Microsoft Dynamics.
Business-to-business examples of companies that leverage technology include IBM, Intel, Kinaxis, Zoom, Zapier and others. IBM's B2B Collaboration, for instance, allows companies to store and exchange data in a secure environment. Users can transfer files, turn data into valuable insights and monitor their activity and performance all on a single platform.
Banks and other financial institutions are investing millions in fintech. They use sophisticated AI systems and data analytics software to assess customers' creditworthiness and mitigate credit risk. In 2014, European organizations invested over $1.5 billion in financial technology. More than $266 million has been invested in Stockholm-based companies and $538 million in London-based companies.
These emerging technologies have resulted in more customer-centric businesses and systems. Today's customers are tech-savvy and have a fast-paced lifestyle. Their preference for digital interactions is quickly reshaping the market, shifting companies' opportunities to reposition their business practices.
The global payment technologies market, for instance, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 20.5 percent by 2024. In 2016, mobile point-of-sale revenue worldwide was $6.6 billion. Experts predict that it will reach nearly $50 billion in 2021. American customers who use mobile payments spend twice as much through all digital channels than those using traditional payment methods.
Considering these figures, it's no surprise that more and more businesses are switching to modern technology. The digital era brings greater transparency, efficiency and convenience for businesses and customers alike. At the same time, it poses new challenges for organizations.
Technology Challenges Small Businesses Face
As you see, there are various types of technology and each has unique characteristics. Before jumping on the bandwagon, make sure you're aware of the challenges ahead. Infrastructure management, regulatory compliance, cybersecurity and budgeting issues are just a few examples. When you're a startup or a small business, even the slightest mistake can cost you big.
For instance, new technologies may not work well with older apps or systems. This can result in data errors, inaccurate reporting, random system crashes and so on. The best way to prevent these issues is to research and test your latest software beforehand. If possible, sign up for a free trial or employ an IT team.
As a small business owner, it's important that you determine the real costs of implementing new technology. You may need to invest in employee training, bring new people on board and put money aside for infrastructure management and maintenance. Regular updates and upgrades are a must and they come at a price.
Since there are so many types of modern technology used in business, choosing one in the first place won't be easy. Do you really need the latest marketing automation software for your startup? What about augmented reality? Is it really going to benefit your customers and improve their experience? Most importantly, does your team have the skills needed to use these new technologies to the fullest? If not, can you afford to hire more people?
Also, beware of the security risks involved. No technology is perfect. Any app or software has weak spots that cybercriminals can target. In fact, a staggering 60 percent of businesses that experience a cyberattack close their doors within six months. More than 70 percent of attacks target small companies. Cyberattacks may cause irreversible damage to your brand and reputation. In the worst-case scenario, you could end up in jail. Imagine falling victim to a cyberattack and having your customer data stolen and your bank accounts emptied. This can lead to expensive lawsuits and even bankruptcy. Keep these things in mind whenever you switch to new technologies. Analyze the risks and make a decision accordingly.
If you have a limited budget, consider investing in security software rather than chasing the next big thing. Encrypted backup, antivirus software and other types of technology help prevent data breaches and safeguard your business. Make sure you have a disaster recovery plan in place to reduce losses in case something goes wrong.
In this digital age, change is the new normal. You can no longer afford to ignore modern technology solutions. Even basic tools like invoicing software, VoIP and cloud storage can drive business growth while saving you time and money. The latest technology can improve communication and collaboration among employees, automate repetitive tasks and provide accurate insights about your company's performance.
Knowing when to embrace change is just as important as choosing the right technology for your business. Make sure you have the skills and resources needed to implement the changes you're considering. Try to avoid the shiny-object syndrome and research your options before investing in new technologies and software.
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Examining the Impact of Technology on Small Business
- Statista: Share of Companies Investing in Artificial Intelligence (AI) Worldwide, By Industry, as of 2016
- CMO.com: Is Artificial Intelligence on the Brink of Changing Business Forever?
- SlideShare: Stockholm FinTech
- Transparency Market Research: Mobile Payment Technologies Market
- Reuters: Europe's Mobile Payment Players Braced for Battle as U.S. Rivals Move In
- Retail Dive: Mobile Payment Users Spend Twice as Much: Report
- Contently: How Technology Is Revolutionizing B2B Events
- Inc.: 60 Percent of Companies Fail in 6 Months Because of This (It's Not What You Think)