(From the editor: This article was originally published on Channel Partner Connection.)
Small business owners are increasingly recognizing that staying one step ahead of the competition these days requires being up on the latest technology. Here are five technology trends you should be prepared to leverage in 2019.
1—Internet of Things (IoT)
From smart thermostats in the office to smart speakers at home, Internet of Things (IoT) technology is becoming a bigger and bigger part of our everyday lives. At work, as at home, IoT offers the opportunity to save your customers time by streamlining everyday tasks, leaving both them and their employees more time to focus on the big-picture thinking that can help business grow.
To help your customers make the most of IOT at work, you’ll first need to assess their day-to-day activities and those of their staff. According to a report by McKinsey, 60% of all jobs can be at least partially automated. Where would they 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.
Xerox technology can help. For instance, use the Xerox® Mobile Link mobile app to help customers connect their mobile devices to a Xerox® multifunction printer (MFP) and to the cloud. Then create customized One-Touch Workflows that scan documents from Xerox MFPs and automatically send them to chosen locations or recipients. Customers can save even more time with Xerox Web Capture: It scans documents directly into business apps with no need to create files, rename documents or import the data to an app (It even works with their existing scanners!) (Learn more about Xerox Apps here)
2—Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI is already in use in a wide range of industries. For example, marketing automation software uses AI to engage in natural language email 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 (like Siri for Apple devices) or virtual assistant apps to help business people 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 optimize 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 cyber crooks become more sophisticated, business owners will need to step up their security game. In 2017, the average small business lost nearly $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 customers’ networked printers.
Fortunately, Xerox printers that have ConnectKey Technology let them secure their data even on a networked printer. PIN codes can be used to restrict access so only authorized users can print or scan sensitive documents. ConnectKey-enabled printers protect their data with encryption and can be set to delete data from the hard drive after it’s printed.
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 visualize 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 promises to be an exciting time for small businesses. Are you ready to take advantage of all this new technology?