The pace of technological change continues to accelerate, with improvements in 3D technology and virtual reality emerging as some of the most headline catching recent developments in the field. For small businesses, more practical implementations of new advances in technology are likely to be of more immediate concern. In this blog, we explore some of the latest IT trends and how they are likely to affect small businesses in 2017.
From the inception of the IT revolution, the ability of technology to rapidly perform complex tasks, thereby offering tremendous time-saving opportunities, has been a major factor in its wide adoption throughout the business world. In 2017, the increasing power of intelligent apps puts them in position to help small businesses operate more efficiently. Virtual personal assistants (VPAs), can now provide a variety of time-saving duties such as scheduling meetings, prioritizing email, and other helpful functions.
Some VPAs are knowns as intelligent personal assistants (IPAs), given their advanced capabilities. Such apps can respond to spoken commands, further enhancing their time-saving function. These intelligent apps have been added to a variety of business solutions, including security software and marketing and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
Adaptive Security Architecture
The increasing interlinkage of IT systems across companies, countries, and industries has opened up tremendous opportunities to share and profit from data. At the same time, this enhanced connectivity has created multiple security vulnerabilities. Hackers have demonstrated the ability to take advantage of advances in technology in previously unknown ways. For instance, the internet of things (IoT), which has enabled household devices and other similar equipment to connect to the Internet as a means of improving the consumer experience has also proved vulnerable to security breaches.
Small businesses, which often have fewer resources to spend on providing security for their data, can find themselves on the receiving end of hacking attacks as a result. By adopting an adaptive security architecture, which uses attribute based access control, they can help to reduce their vulnerability to such attacks. Security solutions of this type enable rapid updates to combat new threats in whatever form they may take.
The Ascendancy of On-Demand
Back in the old days (which in the rapidly changing world of technology could be only 5 or 10 years ago!) consumers would place an order or request for more information and then wait hours or days or even weeks for a response from a company. In today’s world, lengthy lead times of this nature are no longer acceptable in most cases. The power of technology now allows companies to deliver their products or services very rapidly, in some cases instantaneously.
What does this mean for small businesses in 2017? If you want to keep your business competitive, or gain a leg up on the competition, look to use IT to increase your company’s response time. This can be done in a variety of ways across a wide range of industries. From offering online restaurant orders or notifying a customer that their dry cleaning is ready to be picked up to instantly connecting a service representative to a customer or prospect, just about any company can benefit from the advances in communication and delivery methods of recent years. Your company website is a prime means for delivering such services, as are online platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. As we move into 2017 it can pay dividends to analyse your firm’s customer-facing operations to identify areas where you can improve response time to increase consumer affinity and engagement.
In past years, video content such as advertisements or infomercials were, by and large, restricted to use by larger companies with the resources needed to pay for the production and distribution of such material. The IT revolution has changed all that, making it easy for small businesses to produce their own videos cheaply and easily and distribute them via sources such as YouTube or their own websites.
Given that studies have overwhelmingly demonstrated that video content achieves markedly better customer engagement numbers than other types of content, using such content in marketing and other customer outreach efforts such as how-to and instructional videos is something your small business may want to consider in 2017.
2017 looks to be an exciting year for users of IT. The technology trends discussed above can offer a starting point for considering how IT will affect your small business during the year. With a number of emerging technologies making giant strides towards commercialisation, and several time-saving business solutions making significant advances in capability, the efficiency benefits available to small businesses from using such technologies can be substantial.