What Are the Top 7 Technology Trends for Small Business
As we move forward in 2019, there are a few technology trends your small business should be aware of and take action on. Implementing technology in business can be a struggle. Even if a key tool promises a new world of productivity, it’s hard for a small business to convince everyone to make the transition. While it’s true that you shouldn’t try to fix things that aren’t broken, sometimes a small time investment upfront can save you hours or more in the long run.
Here’s what you can do to get ready.
1. Use Machine Learning and AI to Speed Up Repetitive Tasks
Despite all the writing out there about how the AI revolution is coming, machine learning and AI often seem out of reach for most small businesses. We can imagine how they will affect the market as a whole, but it can be hard to identify specific areas of your business where you can walk in tomorrow and simplify them with AI.
The good news is that AI is indeed approachable and can help you right now, especially if you have repetitive day-to-day tasks. Chasing everyone down to confirm schedules for a meeting can be a time suck, but tools like x.ai and Clara can take over and make the process a breeze. Similarly, using an AI chatbot to field commonly-asked questions, like your business hours, can save hours of time for your employees to focus on what matters: growing your business.
2. Improved Analytics Create Actionable Insights
Analytics is another tool that affects many technology trends and may feel out of reach for most small businesses but is actually something you can start using right now. Between looking at your marketing data with a tool like Kissmetrics and making better data-driven decisions with something like ClearStory Data, there are plenty of tools out there to help you make the most of the data you already have. As we move into 2019, these platforms will be even more important in helping your small business stay ahead of the curve and reach customers before they even know they need you.
3. Even More Digital Integration
Digital integration gets tossed around a lot as a buzzword, but finding ways for your small business to reap the benefits is even simpler than you think. Just take another look at the technology tools you’re already using.
This could be as simple as converting to a paperless office because all of your key documents are kept in the cloud, or saving money because you’ve embraced the IoT and have started using smart thermostats to lower your heating bill. Digital integration is all about translating these advances in technology into real-world benefits that can give your small business the advantage it needs.
4. More Telecommuting and Distributed Teams
According to a study by IWG, by 50 percent of all workers will be remote by 2020. The same study also found that 43 percent of US workers already work remotely, and that number will likely grow as more and more workplaces get serious about going digital.
As you look at what your business can do better in 2019, it’s important to consider how you can offer your team more flexibility to work when and where they want to. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to ditch your physical location, it does mean you need to make technology moves to support more remote work. Go digital with more key business operations to increase your team’s flexibility when getting their work done, no matter where they are.
5. Investments in APIs
Applications programming interfaces (APIs) were once the realm of software developers looking to integrate their technology with data from platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and more. In 2019, however, we’ll see more and more small businesses take advantage of APIs to work more efficiently than ever before.
As we use more and more tools like Trello and Basecamp, or payment platforms like PayPal or Stripe, APIs provide a pathway to access key data without the usual security barriers that would bog down work over traditional channels. That means more time for vendors and remote workers to spend on projects that matter most to you.
6. A New Focus on Cybersecurity
Data breaches are soaring, and 2019 projects to bring more of the same. You can no longer afford to count on your herd immunity to protect you when it comes to cyberattackers. Even as a small business, you have data worth stealing, and it’s time to take responsibility for that and protect yourself and your customers.
In 2019, focus on security. Double-check that your network is secure and that you have a schedule for making sure that every device connected to it is regularly updated and patched. Fix your password requirements, and train your team to do better.
Make a plan for what you’ll do in the event of a breach—not just for IT, but marketing, customer service, and every other department of your business. It’s no longer a question of if you’ll be attacked—it’s a question of what you’ll do about it when you are targeted.
7. More Managed IT
As IT becomes a bigger and bigger job, more and more small business will look for ways to get help outside of their organization. Managed IT services offer you the opportunity to work with pros who are experienced with all businesses, big and small, at a fraction of the cost of hiring your own specialists. If you’re looking for 24/7 network monitoring, threat response, and more managed IT can be a great option that can scale with your business.
What You Can Do Right Now
Keeping up-to-date and experimenting with new technology trends can help you keep your small business ahead of the curve. Here’s what you can do right now:
- Cut downtime spent on repetitive day-to-day tasks with machine learning and AI.
- Use advanced analytics to generate new insights from your data.
- Look for ways to better accommodate distributed teams and remote workers.
- Double down on cybersecurity.
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