Writing for the Xerox Blog, Rieva Lesonsky discusses five technology trends every entreprenuer should know.
1. Internet of Things (IoT)
From smart thermostats in the office to smart speakers at home, Internet of Things (IoT) technology is becoming a bigger and bigger part of our everyday lives. At work, as at home, IoT offers the opportunity to save time by streamlining everyday tasks, leaving employers and employees alike more time to focus on the big-picture thinking that can help the business grow.
To make the most of IoT business, first assess the day-to-day activities and those of the staff. Where can time be saved? What menial or repetitive tasks could be handled by technology rather than employees? These are prime opportunities for implementing IoT technology. According to a report by McKinsey, 60% of all jobs can be at least partially automated.
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2. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is already in use in a wide range of industries. For example, marketing automation software uses AI to engage in natural language email exchanges with clients or customers. Chat bots can hold text-based conversations with customers to answer basic customer service questions. AI can also be part of operating systems (like Siri for Apple devices) or virtual assistant apps to help businesspeople schedule meetings or manage their calendars. For businesses, AI has the potential to save time and money by taking over tasks currently handled by humans. A whopping 80% of companies plan to have chat bots in place by 2020, according to The Chatbot Consumer Report.
With so much data now available about everything from customers to competitors, sorting through all the information one has is beyond the capacity of humans. AI-based apps can use business intelligence to suggest actions businesses should take based on available data, helping business owners respond quickly to the data they collect.
3. Voice recognition technology
Consumers’ widespread adoption of voice recognition technologies such as Amazon’s Alexa is changing the way people search online. This, in turn, will transform how businesses optimise their websites, create digital content and advertise online. The ease and convenience of voice recognition technology will promote its expansion into other areas of business.
4. Digital privacy concerns
Consumer concerns about digital privacy are nothing new, but addressing these concerns is becoming more important for businesses in 2019. Being aware of the potential for security breaches, consumers look to businesses to prove how they are protecting personal information. For example, any business that sells to consumers in the European Union needs to be aware of new GDPR security and privacy standards.
Meanwhile, as cyber crooks become more sophisticated, business owners will need to step up their security game. In 2017, the average small business lost nearly R1 million ($80,000) annually to cybercrime, according to the Better Business Bureau. IoT technology will bring new risks as networked IOT devices open businesses to cyber hacking through channels one may never have thought of — like an office’s networked printers.
Fortunately, Xerox printers that have ConnectKey Technology let users secure data even on a networked printer. Just use PIN codes to restrict access so only authorised users can print or scan sensitive documents. ConnectKey-enabled printers protect data with encryption and can be set to delete data from the hard drive after it’s printed.
5. Augmented reality
While virtual reality is a complete digital world, augmented reality overlays virtual images on physical surroundings. Augmented reality has many applications for business. For example, furniture retailer IKEA uses augmented reality to help customers visualise how furniture will look in their homes. Clothing stores can use it to help consumers envision how clothes will look on them.
With so many changes on the horizon, 2019 year promises to be an exciting time for small businesses.
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