Technology is a key driver for success. Fortunately, the speed of change in today’s digital age means technologies that help you efficiently manage and grow your business are already here. From mobile payments to cloud-based accounting and the internet of things, we examine five technology trends that are transforming the way we do business.
1. Mobile payment technology and the digital wallet
Smartphones today are used for more than just texting and making calls. They are also mini-computers, virtual shops and online banks. In fact, research by Roy Morgan found that one in three Australians use only their mobile devices to conduct banking activities.
With the mobile banking boom came the rise of mobile payment services – technology that communicates with a smartphone or tablet app to accept card payments from customers. Contactless payments made with your bank or credit card are already the new normal, but imagine a situation where your customer only needs their smartphone to pay.
This technology speeds up customer transactions, offers mobile flexibility and simplifies expenses. A number of suppliers are already offering the service in Australia, including Apple Pay, Square and PayPal Here.
2. Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to smart technology able to process big data to learn, serve and adapt – accomplishing a range of tasks more efficiently than humans. Machine learning, for example, uses large amounts of data to better understand customer behaviour, anticipate their needs and offer recommendations.
Chatbots are another example of how AI is changing business. They are virtual assistants you can interact with on any chat interface, like Facebook Messenger or text. These labour-saving tools provide a way for businesses to connect with customers on a personal level.
Implementing AI technology into your organisation might seem overwhelming, but it’s fast becoming a reality for business owners. Many tech vendors now offer a range of frameworks and smart apps to easily integrate with current systems.
3. Cloud accounting
Accounting is an essential part of running a small business, but many owners fall into the trap of spending more time managing their financial reporting obligations than focusing on business growth and improvement.
Cloud accounting technology allows business owners to access and update financial information from any device with an internet connection, and keeps important data secure in the cloud. This advanced software technology saves you from replicating information or managing multiple Excel spreadsheets by enabling direct collaboration with your accountant and other apps, like payment technology.
4. The internet of things
The internet of things (IoT) refers to the internetworking of physical devices like computers, smartphones, homes, cars and other electronics. This technology allows data collection on almost anything – from your watch to your coffee machine and even your light fittings. And thanks to products like Apple Watch and Fitbit, the IoT is already commonplace. By 2025, its predicted to have an economic impact of up to US$11.1 trillion.
The IoT can help you understand your customers and even run parts of your business. For example, you could use it to automate stock levels in your warehouse with a single click from your point-of-sale scanner, or to reduce security costs and keep your shopfront safe with smart locks. Soon, anything that can be connected will be connected, and the opportunities for how we run our businesses could be endless.
5. Collaborative tools
From videoconferencing to project management and even group chat, collaborative tools make communicating with colleagues and clients easy. Customer relationship management (CRM) software like SalesforceIQ or Insightly, for example, can help you manage the customer life cycle with the goal of improving business relationships. If you need to work remotely with a freelancer or business associate, software tools like Slack and Asana let you collaborate with your team regardless of location.
As our world becomes increasingly connected, technology will continue to affect how we work. Used properly, business owners can take advantage of technology to improve their competitive edge and drive efficiency, profitability and growth.
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