You want your business to run smoothly and efficiently while keeping costs down. The technology revolution is making this goal possible for businesses of every size, from a sole proprietorship to the enterprise level. Options range from collaboration in the cloud and mobile devices to live chat and virtual receptionist services.
A business is no longer limited to its immediate surrounding location. Customers from all over the world can communicate and even shop on business websites twenty-four hours a day. Executives and employees can hold online meetings with no one in the same room or country. To compete these days, businesses must stay informed and put new technologies into practice.
1. Internet of Things
From office lights and thermostats to robots and automated checkouts, the IoT is revolutionizing business operations. If you want your business to thrive, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a must. By the year 2020, nearly $1.5 trillion is expected to be spent on IoT technologies. With the potential for connecting a wide range of devices to the Internet, businesses can function seamlessly over a broad geographic area.
Innovative technologies have improved IoT coverage, battery life, and scale. Narrowband and Low-Power Wide-Area technologies can now connect devices that are deep inside a building or underground, with batteries lasting up to 10 years without a charge.
2. Cloud Computing
With cloud computing, businesses now have more options for collaboration and data storage. Files can be instantly transferred to a third-party online platform without using storage space on office computers. Cloud storage enhances productivity by minimizing the risk of computer crashes and lost data.
In the cloud, employees have the flexibility to collaborate on projects without having to be in the same room at the same time. You can securely and efficiently make photographs, drawings, spreadsheets and memos available to your employees. Team members can invite other users to edit and comment on files.
3. Communication With Customers & Employees
Technological advances in communication save businesses money and time. A live virtual receptionist, for example, can answer your business phone calls from customers for a much lower cost than hiring an in-office receptionist. This service allows a smaller business to stay in touch with customers by using a receptionist that it could not otherwise afford.
Other messaging systems are available to businesses. Text messages are an efficient way to send reminders and promotional offers to customers. Businesses can quickly and efficiently send relevant messages to employees by paging over a wide geographic area.
Online video conferencing allows busy executives in different countries to hold online meetings without the time and expense of travel. Employees can make decisions and close deals when businesses need them.
4. Mobile Devices
From mobile phones and smartphones to tablets, mobile devices give businesses, their employees and their customers, unprecedented flexibility. With access to the Internet and productivity apps, employees can practically take the office with them to meetings and during business travel.
Whether it’s in-office staff meetings or on-site client consultations, mobile devices provide useful on-the-go tools. Built-in cameras and intelligent pens allow you to take pictures, create videos and remotely sketch design ideas. Businesses that require frequent on-site consultations, such as landscaping companies, will benefit from these tools.
Mobile payment options are another benefit of smartphone technology. With mobile card readers and apps, you can complete transactions away from the office or cash register. Now, even the smallest business can process card payments on the go. Whether you’re at a trade show or local craft fair, you can complete that sale.
5. Artificial Intelligence
Businesses evolve when they save time and money. Artificial intelligence (AI) does just that by analyzing large quantities of data and creating useful information from the data. Businesses can use this information for a variety of purposes, from live chat to employee recruitment. AI can evaluate human facial expressions and online behaviors to assess customer reactions and predict future employee performance.
AI is helping businesses run more efficiently. Research shows that more than 50% of Australian businesses already use AI. Technology can now “learn” and provide services while freeing employees to work on other tasks. This technological revolution is definitely worth pursuing.
With the technological revolution comes increased risks as well as improved security. You want to take advantage of the variety of storage and filing methods without compromising client and employee information or financial data. The traditional methods of security, including password protection, firewalls, and antivirus software, are still vital for protecting information.
Updated technology, however, has tightened cyber-security and has given businesses security options on many levels. Data backup solutions help businesses recover lost or compromised information after a breach. Businesses can use encryption software as well as two-step authentication to protect employee and client information and financial records. AI helps predict and prevent fraud based on behaviors and fingerprint recognition. With new security technologies at every level, a business can evolve while minimizing risks.
To stay competitive, your business must keep up with the latest advances in communication and collaboration. The sooner you can get your promotional messages to customers, for example, the sooner they’ll be able to act on them. If your employees can comment on and edit files, in spite of differing schedules and locations, your business can benefit from their collaboration.
Whether you are an executive in an enterprise-level business or just starting out as a small business owner, the technology revolution can help your business evolve. Even the smallest businesses can take advantage of the cloud and other technological developments to grow.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of the blog series Run Your Business brought to you by the marketing team at UniTel Voice, the virtual phone system priced and designed for startups and small business owners.