As part of my work for OPEN Forum, I went and spoke to people at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), one of the biggest of its kind in the world. There were over 140,000 attendees there, all hoping to glean some insight into what's coming next in technology and what it might mean for them. But what does it mean for you, and what should you care about if you're running a small business?
Mobility Continues to Advance
Once you squint past the 3D TVs--of which pretty much all TV brands now have to make a version, because evidently Jersey Shore would be better if we watched it in 3D)--what's cool are the mobile technologies like tablet computing. In addition to the iPad, there are now several other competitors in lots of flavors that will give you a lot of opportunity. Verizon pushed heavily with its 4G/LTE environment, which basically means "even faster Internet for your mobile device," and the other U.S.-based carriers had similar stories. But again, why should you care about this?
Mobility Means You Can Work Whenever
Between improved tablet computers, improved smartphones, and advances in network technology, it means that you can work from the shop floor or the coffee shop instead of behind the desk. Mobility and improved networks mean that you can work micro-retail and take more payment options; that you can oversee logistics; that you can build simpler systems to improve your marketing and sales efforts; and that you can reach people just like you, who do more and more of their business with a computer from a phone or a tablet. That part's useful. What else is useful?
Media-Making Technology Keeps Advancing
We talk a lot at OPEN Forum about ways to use tools like blogging, video, and social networks to grow your business. The cool thing about CES is that you can visit folks from companies like Kodak, Sony, and Panasonic to see what they're doing with low-end and middle-end gear to create compelling content for your website. What kind of content? Interviews, maybe, or testimonials, or how-to or behind-the-scenes. That part is up to you. But with the advances in technology, the improvements to simplicity, and the reduction in cost, you have to keep your eye on things like video cameras and the like, so that you might be able to use those tools to improve your marketing.
We did a lot of speaking at the OPEN Forum booth at CES, between myself, Guy Kawasaki, Ramon Ray, and Scott Belsky, and people had a chance to come and talk with us about small business, and about how all this new marketing stuff changes things (and how it doesn't). If you're on the fence about whether you should attend CES or not for 2012, ask yourself whether knowing about advances in technology will improve your business. If yes, then I hope to see you there.
Chris Brogan is president of Human Business Works, an online education and community company. He blogs regularly at chrisbrogan.com.