7 tech trends your business should know about in 2018 and beyond

Technology changes every year, and many new tech trends focus on improving business functions and productivity.

As this new tech hits the market, businesses that adopt early will flourish. However, those that are slow to change can face major disruption. To keep your business on the cutting edge, here are a few new and emerging technologies to keep in mind.

1. Bigger and better data

When Big Data was first introduced, only the top companies could afford the resources necessary to benefit from the incredible amounts of consumer data.

Today, third-party companies collect all of that data as part of a larger software package. They’re able to transform that data into actionable insight and bring the benefits of big data analytics to even the smallest businesses. All of this data means more informed decision making and better strategic thinking for long-term business development.

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2. CRM software and affordability

Did you know that 91 percent of companies with 11 or more employees use CRM software? That’s nearly complete market penetration. But when you look at businesses with 10 or fewer employees, that number drops to less than half.

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As CRM becomes more ubiquitous, it also becomes more available and affordable for smaller companies. This will help companies everywhere improve the sales process and strengthen customer relationships.

3. Cloud migration gets easier

With cloud adoption already at 88 percent in some countries, it may be time to evaluate the possibilities of a move.

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Cloud-based operations can shift some of the expense burden for maintenance and security from your business to the provider. It’ll also ensure that you always stay up-to-date with software changes. Plus, the cloud can be accessed from anywhere, an increasingly important switch as more employees become remote.

4. Change your worldview with AR

Integrating the digital world with the day-to-day is more common. And with this synergy, comes plenty of business opportunity. From virtual dressing rooms to real-time furniture displays, the AR possibilities seem nearly endless.

Amazon recently introduced an AR function that lets customers see how something will look in their home, using the camera in a smartphone.

“Called AR View, the feature is activated by clicking on the camera icon in the Amazon app and selecting from thousands of products across categories like furniture, kitchenware, and home decor.”

These applications are developing and becoming more accessible. Expect the prices for adoption to drop and be ready to add this next-gen technology to your competitive toolbelt.

5. Artificial intelligence for automation

Every business can benefit from automation, particularly when it comes to some basic frontline tasks like tier 1 customer service. For simple requests like tracking a package, setting up a return, or acting as a receptionist, chatbots may be the wave of the future.

Consider Facebook’s Messenger application. This app is home to more than 100,000 budding AIs.

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“Messenger’s new Chat Extensions enable bots to temporarily join and supplement existing conversations between two or more friends. Through Chat Extensions, people can find and share NBA video highlights without leaving a Messenger thread or book a restaurant reservation without having to go through the full conversational flow of OpenTable’s Messenger bot.”

As AI gets smarter and more adaptable, it will be able to handle more routine and boring manual tasks, freeing up your employees to handle the things that take initiative, creativity, and the human touch.

6. Voice recognition for productivity and sales

As voice recognition software matures, it is becoming a tool that can help your business reach more customers and make life at the office a little easier.

Alexa, Siri, Bixby, and other digital “assistants” respond to voice commands, pulling up local restaurants, answering questions, or adding an appointment to your calendar.

Because of this, it might be time to start thinking about how other people are using digital assistants and voice recognition.

For example, you may not say, “What restaurants are near me?” when looking for a place to eat. Instead, “What should I have for dinner?” sounds more conversational.

Voice recognition is designed to allow for a more natural interaction. Expect search terms to change as people adapt to using these platforms.

7. Further personalization with expanded scheduling options

Enabling customers to schedule a sales interaction, select topics on the agenda, and decide on their favorite method of communication may be something to consider in the near future. Scheduling software is already very advanced, and these are options that can easily be made available.

In an era where consumers expect more customer service than ever, it makes sense to let them have control over when and how they discuss a purchase.

Final thoughts

These are just a few of the exciting new and existing technologies out there that could help your business. Some of these possibilities are already in use by your competitors, while others are just on the bleeding edge of what technology can accomplish.

To keep your business stable and growing as new productivity enhancements hit the market, it is important to be aware of tech trends. While adopting a new technology too early can be very costly, waiting can sometimes be more costly Talk to your IT solutions provider about what your business needs today, and start making plans for the future.