Each year, new business technological trends are predicted and reported, but which ones can have a positive impact on small businesses? The following list contains four technology trends to watch out for in 2017 and the ways your business can leverage them to run the business better.
Tech Trend 1: Diving into the IoT or ‘Internet of Things’
The IoT essentially turns everyday devices—cars, watches, tools, appliances—into “smart” devices by embedding software, sensors and network connectivity that allow these devices to collect and exchange data. Small businesses have been adopting IoT to reduce operating costs and increase productivity.
For example, businesses can save money by installing smart sensors to control thermostats and lighting to maximize energy efficiency and usage. Smart devices can also monitor and maintain inventory by automatically submitting orders for necessary products or supplies once the quantity dips below a specified amount.
Tech Trend 2: An increase in the use of bots and other artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace
AI isn’t just for robots. It is also used to create more labor-saving devices. The most practical applications for this technology in a small business are for employee support and customer service.
Jói Sigurdsson, founder and CEO of business screen-sharing site CrankWheel explains that, like the IoT, AI technologies have the power to bring small businesses to the same technological and customer service levels as larger companies, without requiring the same-size staff or expenses.
For example, x.ai is a digital personal “assistant” currently being used to book meetings. Once enrolled through the website, you copy your AI assistant on the initial scheduling email and the service then handles all correspondence and coordination from the other attendees in order to find the perfect date and time. This can be a huge time and energy saver.
Many companies are rolling out chat bots to provide first-line customer service support. By using a bot to collect initial information, your business can save time in assisting with general queries while allowing for employees to spend more time on in-depth or detailed customer inquiries.
Tech Trend 3: Greater focus on data loss and cybercrime prevention
According to the SEC, 60% of small businesses fail within six months of a data breach and 43% of all cyberattacks are made against small business.
Luke Walling, general manager at Safetica North America, a firm that specializes in data loss prevention (DLP) software for small to mid-size businesses, explains that in addition to hackers and malware, 55% of security threats actually start from inside the business.
Spear phishing, a type of internet security breach growing more common by the day, encompasses hacking as well as internal loss. Spear phishing occurs when a cyberhacker sends an email disguised by a familiar sender address to an employee requesting typically confidential information, like W-2 forms, account information, website passwords, or credit card data. The incoming email usually looks normal, and can appear to be from a familiar email address.
Having a DLP program is invaluably beneficial because it will pick up on the intruder, deactivate the reply email, and prevent the breach from occurring. Walling also adds that, while a DLP works as a safety net, requests for documentation, passwords, etcetera as explained above should always be questioned before sending a reply.
Tech Trend 4: Adopting safer virtual private network (VPN) options and WiFi security.
With many small business owners and employees alike shifting into working remotely, a safe wireless network is key when trying to avoid data breaches and cyberattacks like the ones described above.
Karen Mesoznik, the inbound marketing manager for SaferVPN describes how more and more business executives and employees conduct business through personal devices while on the go.
Mesoznik adds that because public WiFi tends to consist of unsecure connections, hackers can easily track the employee’s moves on unencrypted sites, install malicious software onto the device being used, and in turn put their business data at great risk for online theft. For small businesses, paying to ensure safe VPN and wireless connections may be an added expense in the beginning but ultimately will save and prevent potential hassle, like data and security breaches, along the road.
Need fast and private WiFi for your business? Learn more about our WiFi solutions.
Staying on top of yearly tech trends can seem daunting and, at times, unnecessary. However, by identifying the trends that can really help you and your business, you can increase productivity and efficiency.
Print this article