Technology continues to be on the minds of most business owners—primarily because tech helps them do so much with so few resources. That's why business owners pay attention to new technology trends; it helps ensure they continue receiving the same level of benefits for all aspects of their operations.
As someone who works with technology every day and helps business owners compete and sustain their success, I see even more technology trends on the horizon.
1. More remote productivity and collaboration tools will emerge.
One of the technology trends that I think will follow us into the new year is remote working tools.
Remote working shows no signs of going anywhere as more businesses hire freelancers and virtual talent to staff their positions and handle projects. Due to this convenient way of working with others, you may find that there will be even more remote productivity and collaboration tools available, including project management platforms, file sharing apps, video chat and conferencing and online workrooms.
There may also be more mobile-friendly versions of these tools, which means you and your staff can be available from anywhere. (That includes cloud-based solutions so you can also share, comment and revise documents on the go to help optimize workflow.)
The proliferation of new remote tools in 2018 could assist business owners with keeping their business and overhead costs to a minimum. Depending on the state of your company, this could include downsizing to smaller office space and having the ability to scale up or down with staff.
These collaborative tools may also make it more comfortable to work with a remote staff, making it feel more like it would if they were working right next to you. This could help maintain motivation, achieve loyalty and increase productivity amongst your remote and in-office teams.
2. Augmented reality (AR) will become a business marketing tactic.
I predict augmented reality will grow in 2018 as more business owners understand how they can use it in marketing as a way to entertain while educating and informing. Augmented reality could be used to make virtual videos that help customers experience a product or service in advance. AR could even teach them how to use it more effectively, thereby replacing user manuals.
The use of augmented reality can also help shoppers get engaged and connected to what they are thinking about buying. This could be especially helpful as more people are shopping online and aren't able to see themselves in the outfits they are buying or get a sense of what an item might look like in their home.
Using AR is one of the technology trends that could have an impact in the way companies market and sell their products and services. It goes beyond watching YouTube videos and makes the customer part of the actual marketing experience.
3. Blockchain will get serious.
If you are unfamiliar with it, blockchain is a digital ledger that chronologically records data related to cryptocurrency transactions and reecently even non-financial transactions, giving it more serious consideration now and into 2018.
The exciting thing about blockchain is that it can help a business in so many ways, from offering greater security to protecting sensitive transaction data. With blockchain, contracts and other interactions can now go without some type of middleman. That means brokers, notaries, banks and other types of middlemen won't be needed, which may reduce the time and cost of many processes.
With more companies, government agencies and tech companies sharing what they are doing with blockchain, I see 2018 as being the year where more business owners will start paying attention to it. Maybe they will even adopt it for some of their processes. From there, blockchain may even reach a tipping point next year, once it becomes widely adopted.
4. 3D printing will advance and become affordable.
While 3D printing has already proven to be incredible in what it can do for the manufacturing and medical community, the development of much smaller, affordable 3D printers may mean that more businesses can take advantage of this ever-improving technology.
Affordable 3D printing may make it that much easier for businesses to produce prototypes that can be used for investors, crowdfunding or marketing efforts. This could then lower the price of production and provide a much more engaging way to introduce or test a new product.
5. The Internet of Things (IoT) will gain greater acceptance.
A 2017 Business Insider Intelligence report on IoT estimates that $5 trillion will be spent on IoT solutions over the course of the next five years. That means 2018 may see IoT devices become more commonplace within businesses and homes as more devices become connected.
While there still may be some security concerns, I believe 2018 will also be the year where more solutions for these concerns emerge to alleviate fears and help fuel the growing acceptance for connecting devices into a larger network. (This could also include connected cars.)
For example, a 2016 Forrester survey (gated) commissioned by Cloudera stated that 28 percent of the 3,627 "business and technology decision makers" surveyed were planning on using IoT devices in the near future. Participants came from industrial, consumer and retail business segments from around the globe.
How You Can Get Ready
While I'm in the business of working with some of these innovations, I am also looking at these technology trends from the perspective of a business owner. I'm looking to see what I can add and invest in that could help add value to my customers and employees, attract new ones and achieve a more efficient operating environment.
To get ready for what's to come in 2018 yourself, consider reading about advancements in technology and follow other thought leaders to ensure you're up to date with the latest information.
Knowing what this technology can do can help you jump in and start using it at the most opportune time. Being aware can also help you get the most from these technology trends—and gain that competitive advantage.
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