Every year, new tech trends continue to transform the way in which consumers and businesses interact. Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen spoke on this very subject recently, claiming the “next decade will be even more disruptive for how customers interact with brands.”
As 2018 fast approaches, many a small business will look to the latest tech-innovations to help their company get an edge over competitors, but which trends will make the biggest impact throughout the coming year?
Growing Reliance on Cloud Storage
Cloud storage solutions provide small businesses with extensive online data-management tools.
Google Drive, DropBox, and others enable even the most inexperienced entrepreneurs to launch a company without a single filing cabinet. Any enterprise can simply store files of all sizes online, rather than having to keep hard copies of documents, invoices, payroll schedules, and so many other files in the office.
This offers practical and financial benefits: precious office space is kept clear, while printing costs stay low (if not non-existent). Cloud storage will continue to play a key role in how businesses operate and maintain a tight structure, enabling colleagues to view, edit, and collaborate on any file as required.
Security is of the highest standard on the most popular cloud storage solutions, restricting access to sensitive data to those with the proper sign-in details only.
Video Chat Makes Virtual Meetings Easier than Ever
Hosting or attending meetings is often critical for small businesses. Building relationships with clients, employees, partners, investors, and other key figures can help companies to grow.
However, travelling to a meeting in another city, state, or even country devours valuable time and money. Speaking over the phone is one solution, but it lacks that all-important personal touch.
Video chat is more and more accessible today, and will become an everyday tool for businesses. Services like those provided by video chat company Agora.io power face-to-face meetings between your business and clients, employees, colleagues, and anyone else around the world with an internet connection.
Video conferencing allows you to read others’ body language, make a more personal impression, and use visual aids as needed. It’s far more cost-effective than spending hours in the air or on the road for a thirty-minute meeting, and translates into extra time for other important work.
The Rise and Rise of Remote Workers
Following on from the point above, the proliferation of cost-effective cloud storage is one reason behind the continued rise of remote workers.
Employees need not gather in a physical workplace today, as access to their full suite of online tools, files, and resources is available at any time, any place. Teams can still work together on projects without a requirement to commute – saving small businesses the expense of large office spaces and associated overheads.
This will revolutionize the way in which small businesses source talent, with professionals (including freelancers) from across the globe now within reach, rather than local candidates.
Business-Consumer Bonds Tighten with Interactive Broadcasts
Periscope and Facebook Live give anyone and everyone a platform to broadcast live. Small businesses can take this and run with it to engage with audiences on a global stage.
Perhaps you want to promote an upcoming product with a real-time demonstration. Maybe you have an idea to host a Q&A session, offering your customers the chance to request information on your products and services in real-time. The choice is yours.
Interactive broadcasting connects your small business with your existing and potential customers in an informal way. By responding to live questions or allowing viewers to guide a session, you’re showing how important they are to you in a simple way.
You can even take audiences behind the scenes of your business, or to special events for an exclusive insight your competitors fail to provide.
Augmented Reality for Immersive Marketing
Pokemon Go proved that augmented reality (AR) has commercial juice. Small businesses may not be able to generate quite as much global hype as that innovative app did, but AR will still hold increasing potential for expanding companies.
Augmented reality integrated into a bespoke app can be used to provide comprehensive details on a product, take users on virtual tours of specific locations, or allow in-store customers to receive exclusive deals.
Small businesses embracing AR will gain an edge over competitors, by providing customers with a deeper, more dynamic quality of service. Companies across all sectors can experiment with augmented reality tech, and make their apps more marketable. Given the importance of mobile devices in the business-consumer relationship, now is the right time to start investigating augmented reality’s worth to your company.
As new trends continue to emerge and expand at a staggering rate, small businesses have greater opportunities to reach customers. These trends will impact the global marketplace in 2018, and potentially give those companies willing to experiment a powerful lead.
Will you embrace any of the tech trends explored above, and how do you expect them to affect your small business?