Staying one step ahead of your competition these days requires being up on the latest technology and the ways it can help your business. Here are five technology trends every small business owner should know in order to hit the ground running in 2019.
1. Internet of things
From smart thermostats in your office to smart speakers in your home, Internet of things (IoT) technology is becoming a bigger and bigger part of our everyday lives. At work, and at home, IoT offers the opportunity to save time by streamlining everyday tasks, leaving you and your employees more time to focus on the big-picture thinking that can help your business grow.
To make the most of IoT in your business, first assess your day-to-day activities and those of your staff. Where would you like to save time? What menial or repetitive tasks could be handed off to technology rather than to employees? These are prime opportunities for implementing IoT technology. According to a report by McKinsey, 60% of all jobs can be at least partially automated.
Xerox technology can help. For instance, use the Xerox Mobile Link mobile app to connect your mobile device to a Xerox multifunction printer (MFP) and to the cloud. Then create customised One-Touch Workflows that scan documents from Xerox MFPs and automatically send them to your chosen locations or recipients. Save even more time with Xerox Web Capture, which scans documents directly into your business apps with no need to create files, rename documents or import the data to an app. (It even works with your existing scanners, meaning one less technology investment you’ll need to make.)
2. Artificial intelligence
AI is already in use in a wide range of industries. For example, marketing automation software uses AI to engage in natural language e-mail exchanges with clients or customers. Chat bots can hold text-based conversations with customers to answer basic customer service questions. AI can also be part of operating systems or virtual assistant apps (like Siri for Apple devices) to help businesspeople schedule meetings or manage their calendars. For businesses, AI has the potential to save time and money by taking over tasks currently handled by humans. A whopping 80% of companies plan to have chat bots in place by 2020, according to The Chatbot Consumer Report.
With so much data now available about everything from your customers to your competitors, sorting through all the information you have is beyond the capacity of humans. AI-based apps can use business intelligence to suggest actions businesses should take based on available data, helping business owners respond quickly to the data they collect.
3. Voice recognition technology
Consumers’ widespread adoption of voice recognition technologies such as Amazon’s Alexa is changing the way people search online. This, in turn, will transform how businesses optimise their websites, create digital content and advertise online. The ease and convenience of voice recognition technology will promote its expansion into other areas of business.
4. Digital privacy concerns
Consumer concerns about digital privacy are nothing new, but addressing these concerns is becoming more important for businesses in 2019. Aware of the potential for security breaches, consumers look to businesses to prove how they are protecting personal information. For example, any business that sells to consumers in the European Union needs to be aware of new GDPR security and privacy standards.
Meanwhile, as cybercrooks become more sophisticated, business owners will need to step up their security game. In 2017, the average small business lost nearly US$80 000 annually to cybercrime, according to the Better Business Bureau. IoT technology will bring new risks as networked IoT devices open businesses to cyber-hacking through channels you may never have thought of — like your office’s networked printers.
Fortunately, Xerox printers that have ConnectKey Technology let you secure your data even on a networked printer. Just use Pin codes to restrict access so only authorised users can print or scan sensitive documents. ConnectKey-enabled printers protect your data with encryption and can be set to delete data from the hard drive after it’s printed.
Small business owners, are you ready to take advantage of emerging technology in 2018?
5. Augmented reality
While virtual reality is a complete digital world, augmented reality overlays virtual images on physical surroundings. Augmented reality has many applications for business. For example, furniture retailer IKEA uses augmented reality to help customers visualise how furniture will look in their homes. Clothing stores can use it to help consumers envision how clothes will look on them. For an idea of the range of applications this technology might have, check out this article from Small Business Trends.
With so many changes on the horizon, 2019 year promises to be an exciting time for small businesses. Is your business ready to take advantage of all this new technology?
Visit Xerox.com to see the latest technology innovations, and to find out how they can benefit your business.
Altron Bytes Document Solutions
Altron Bytes Document Solutions (Altron BDS) is Africa’s leading document management technology and services company and the largest Xerox distributor in the world. It is the authorised Xerox distributor in 26 sub-Saharan countries offering the complete range of Xerox document equipment, software solutions and services. BDS forms part of JSE listed Allied Electronics Corporation Altron.
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