Technology has become one of the driving forces behind practically every aspect of business. During a visit to Grand Rapids in 2017, celebrity chef Robert Irvine shared with West Michigan business leaders that technology is playing a larger role in the success of every business — no matter its size or industry.
Irvine stressed to audience members that, if they’re not keeping abreast of tech trends, their businesses would fail within a few years.
For small and big businesses alike, new and exciting advances in technology can be game-changers. The good news is that many of these applications are more affordable to small and mid-sized businesses, leveling the playing field and making it easier for them to compete with larger competitors.
Here are some of the top technological trends influencing business in 2019.
Software-defined networking and wide area networks
Through cloud-based technology, software-defined networking (SDN) and wide area networks (SD-WAN) make it possible for businesses to manage their networks in multiple locations — all from one platform.
This technology is easily adaptable by any business with several locations, such as restaurants, retail stores and even health care offices. Interestingly, we see many banks and credit unions relying on SDN and SD-WAN to concurrently manage multiple network systems.
The network needs at a regional headquarters may vary from an individual branch. The flexible functionality and efficiency of this technology allows the financial organization to select the internet transport that fits the needs of each individual site as well as manage and monitor all networks from a single portal. Finally, the ability to interface with an existing redundant network ensures the bank or credit union is both regulation compliant and always available when customers need them.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is helping businesses deliver information to consumers in real time, create conveniences and improve the overall customer experience. The examples are endless: ordering coffee via a smartphone app and avoiding the long checkout line; tracking exercise and fitness goals to stay motivated; the ability to remote start your car or ensure the front door is locked right from an app on your phone.
For businesses, the rise of connected devices, sensors and other new technologies also is playing an increasingly important role in everything from inventory management and disaster recovery to security tools and self-healing technologies.
Self-healing tech, for example, can identify and correct issues (such as a network outage), which leads to minimizing operational disruptions, streamlining and enhancing customer service, and ultimately saving time and money.
Artificial intelligence (AI) makes it possible for machines to learn from experiences — much to the benefit of consumers. If you use voice recognition technology through your smartphone or in your vehicle, you’re benefiting from AI. Do you enjoy getting recommendations of shows or movies to watch through your TV or video provider? That’s AI at work. AI can anticipate consumer responses and help businesses better understand how we make decisions, so they can adapt products and services to meet our needs.
The use of big data is what allows AI and IoT to work. There have been substantial technological advances in the gathering and managing of big data, making it more affordable for small and medium-sized companies. This presents exciting new opportunities for businesses to personalize customer experiences.
Many retailers, both large and small, are harnessing data analytics to understand customer purchasing patterns, uncover hidden trends, personalize the in-store experience, and offer incentives to increase sales and improve the customer experience.
As in years past, the demand for bandwidth — by businesses and consumers — continues to grow. It wasn’t long ago that 10-gigabit was the baseline expectation among companies for an ultra-high-performance network. Now, 100-gigabit Ethernet is the new standard. That means network providers will need to continue investing in technology and expanding their networks to effectively support businesses and consumers.
With all the technological advancements being made, it’s essential that business leaders stay up to date on how new tech applications are moving business practices forward. Without this investment, it becomes much harder for a business to compete, thrive and ultimately survive.