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.
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.
Business-to-business examples of companies that leverage technology include:
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.
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.