Technology trends you need to be aware of
Technology is the great equaliser. It allows small businesses to compete with their corporate counterparts. Staying on top of new developments helps protect your business and identifies opportunities.
We created a round-up of technology that's making an impact right now.
Augmented reality as a marketing platform
Do you know what a Snorlax is? Pokémon Go thrust augmented reality into the public consciousness. Children and adults were seen stumbling around parks trying to capture mythical beasts they could only see through their mobile phones.
The playful introduction to augmented reality shows how powerful it can be. Large brands pioneered some interesting marketing campaigns. Pepsi’s AR bus stop had passers-by thinking meteoroids had landed and alien tentacles were coming out of the sewers.
AR software is becoming easier to use and the price will fall over time making it more and more accessible to small businesses.
It doesn't stop at marketing either. The ability to show real-time information about complex physical systems creates opportunities in sectors like healthcare, engineering and real estate.
Business applications include modelling furniture for your home, letting children learn anatomy and a car owner's manual. What’s the next big opportunity in your space?
The GDPR-led data revolution
Legislation and technology are drivers for building better digital relationships.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in May 2018. It requires businesses to get consent from consumers to use their data. The majority of small businesses spent time checking the data they were storing and updating their processes.
The new approach creates advantages for small businesses. GDPR lends itself to high quality, personal interactions with customers. Small businesses are operating on a scale where they can leverage this mentality.
Use the opportunity to carve out a competitive advantage. Use simple language to explain why you're asking for information but don't collect data you aren't going to use. Personalise email marketing and make sure it's targeted by the customer's interest. This helps build trust in your brand and improves response rates.
Technological advancements have made these processes easier for small businesses by putting powerful, low-cost tools in their hands. APIs allow email software, Google Analytics, inventory systems and more to talk to each other. Cloud-based subscription services such as Mailchimp and Typeform help manage and connect this data.
AI assistant for business owners
Millions of people use Google Assistant and Alexa. Voice controlled devices like Google Home use AI platforms to understand commands. They can change music, turn lights on and even take shopping orders. These devices are aimed at households but businesses can reap huge rewards too.
The assistants are getting smarter every day, with more business-related functions being added all the time:
Set alarms and reminders, and manage your calendar
Dial into your conference calls and make phone calls
Check sales and inventory data
Create actions and skills to help your customers find you
Check your cash flow and other financial data
Could a smart, AI-enabled business assistant save you time and money?
Voice search is becoming increasingly popular too, whether it's done through a digital assistant or a mobile phone. Check how your customers might use voice search to find your business.
Understand the risks of disruption
These technological developments need huge resources and computing power, whether it's Google using CAPTCHA to train its image recognition software or the millions of commands fed into Alexa, which help it learn.
Large platforms like Facebook can quickly move into new areas. It's crucial small businesses think about how their offering might be disrupted in the future.
The widespread adoption of mobile phones impacted sales of common devices like digital cameras, satellite navigation systems and even pen torches, for example. Powerful software is taking over many administration tasks like processing receipts too. What value can you add that protects you from this kind of disruption?
Think about how large companies like Google might enter your space and keep track of customer behaviour. Ask what systems they are using to solve problems related to your business.
Understanding these technological advancements will help protect your business and identify new opportunities.