Technology is an ever-changing presence in today’s world. Consumers and businesses alike must use the latest and greatest tech in order to keep pace with friends and competitors. This is particularly true for the business world, which is constantly finding unique ways to use the newest technology. Below is a list I’ve made of some of the biggest technological contenders changing the business world.
Since its conception in the 1950s and the first services released in the mid-2000s, cloud technology has rapidly changed the business world. No longer do we need to keep filing cabinets filled with everything ranging from important documents to every receipt of purchase the business has made in the last 10 years, worried about an audit. Gone are the days when we would purchase software for the business only to find it outdated less than a year later.
Cloud services mean that we can store what we need online, ready to be accessed from anywhere we have internet connection. We can file things away, making them easy to find or search for. We can share files with multiple parties. Software companies are even making their software available in clouds, offering a subscription to use the software. Once paid, you can access the software from as many computers as you need for your business, and the software will be updated whenever a new version is released.
Social media started as a way for people to keep in touch with each other, but businesses quickly learned that it was also a powerful tool for business marketing and customer research. Now there are numerous ways social media affects the business world, the biggest being social analytics.
With social analytics, you can know exactly how many of your fans and followers are mentioning your business, what regions your site traffic is coming from, and view the historical data to spot different trends. This can help you know who you should market to, where, and which marketing campaigns have the most success.
Letting customers pick which social media site they sign-in to on business websites is also changing the way sites interact with their customers. Instead of offering one social media site that customers may or may not use, customers have a choice. They can pick the site of their preference—the one with the most information on them—and sign-in with it, giving the site access to all of that customer’s likes and favorites, which helps businesses cater to their customer base.
At just over a decade old, smartphones may be relatively new to the market, but it’s no longer possible to run a business without one. The last few years have seen many advancements, and the next few years will see just as many, if not more.
Now customers can make payments for student loans or purchase items from online stores like Amazon all from the apps on their smartphones. Business owners can use mobile payment apps to swipe cards, rather than have a full computer console for credit card transactions.
Eavesdropping apps can provide free coupons when ads run on the TV. All someone needs to do to get the coupon is tag the ad when they see it, using the business app. Simple as that.
Some applications team up with businesses and offer incentives to users. These incentives might be a form of currency in a game the user plays, or it could be a coupon for the business. Users can even promote a business, getting a unique URL for friends to click that will trace back to the user, so the business will know how many people visited because of one person. Then that person will be rewarded for those visitors.
Hypertargeting is the big kid on the advertising block. This tool uses the “likes” and favorites of consumers’ social media profiles, along with their various internet searches, to build advertisements specifically for that person. In other words, it brings advertisements to the consumers who are the most likely to respond to the ads.
For example, if you type in “cheap flights London,” you’ll start seeing ads for discount sites for flights or tours in London, because you are interested in these things based on your search history. If you put that your relationship status is “single” on your social media profile, you’ll probably start seeing ads for mingling with singles and online dating.
Artificial intelligence is quickly taking over different fields of the business world. Many jobs are simply better for robots than they are for humans, especially if they are physically or mentally taxing. Robots don’t get headaches, they don’t need sick days or vacation days, and they aren’t on the payroll. They have the ability do any number of jobs, like handling prescription in a pharmacy or ensuring nurses give the correct dosage to patients in a hospital. Artificial intelligence is also used for reporting, like with sporting events reporters aren’t able to attend.
Since eye-tracking technology was developed, websites are built with important information placed where viewers are most likely to look first. Businesses know why this is important—you only have a few seconds to capture viewer interest. Eye-tracking technology uses data collected from thousands of users, tracking where they look on sites. This data helps businesses, and anyone with a website, know where to put information to capture the viewer’s interest.
Businesses with a wide geographical spread have sometimes had a tough time maintaining communication over the years, but with video conferencing, those same businesses can stay in the loop. Video conferencing gives nearly all the advantages of meeting face-to-face, only without that physical connection. You can both see and speak to the person, even if they’re halfway around the world. It’s a must for businesses with traveling employees or multiple locations nationwide.
Decision Rules Engines
Business rules engines help reduce the time owners use to make decisions for their business. The owner inputs information it wants the engine to start with and sets the rules to bind the engine. Then the owner can run the engine as much as needed, and the engine will spit out the decision based on the input and the rules.
For example, if you needed to know what to order for inventory, instead of running the counts yourself, you can have the rules engine check for you. It will look at what is in stock and use the rules you’ve laid out for the minimum of each product to tell you if you need to order anything. It can give an answer in mere seconds, and you can move on to more important tasks.
Contact Management Software
Businesses that operate based on contacts can struggle to connect with potential clients and form business relationships. Most times, it takes a lot of persistence to land a client. Sales people know this. Consumers don’t typically walk into a store ready to buy. They need convincing. This requires more than just initial contacts: it means multiple follow-ups and lead generation. This can mean hours of time and tedious work organizing all those contacts. However, with contact management software, it is easier to follow-up with leads and various clients. This improves organization and efficiency, saving your business time and money and your sales team extra hassle.
Human Resources Software
It can be hard to find the perfect person to hire for a position. Human resources software helps you during the hiring and interviewing process, making sure you find the right person for the right position. It can help you know exactly what to look for and how much you should pay. It can even use data collected from other businesses in your industry to help you know if a particular applicant is likely to do well in a position.
With the constant evolution of business and technology, it can be difficult to stay ahead of the competition. However, these 10 innovations will help any business stay afloat in a competitive market, where every advantage counts.
[author] Jake Magleby has written extensively about effective marketing, sales, and financing strategies to help small business owners succeed in the fast-paced and ever-changing business world. He also has an interest in education and development. [/author]