Startups have the greatest opportunity to benefit from evolving technology. Already agile, new tech developments make these organizations more streamlined, effective and engaging, allowing them to increase profit and provide greater levels of service to customers and clients.
“Technology can help small business owners leverage limited capital in smarter and more effective ways. In some cases, using technology is a natural progression for processes you may already have in place in your business,” Alyssa Gregory, founder of Small Business Bonfire, said.
Knowing what’s up and coming will allow your small business to use the latest technology to thrive in an increasingly competitive space. Keep the following trends in mind and consider how you can implement them to drive growth, security and profit in 2018.
Blockchain in everything
Blockchain will be everywhere in 2018, with more and more companies building on this technology to automate contracts, facilitate money transfer and secure assets. Most small businesses are ready for blockchain, according to a 2017 IBM Study of 3,000 global C-suite executives. The study found that 33 percent of organizations across a range of industries are considering or are already using blockchain, with security against fraud and cybercrime being the main reason organizations are interested.
But why cybersecurity? The blockchain is decentralized, meaning it inherently offers a distributed method for detecting threats. This reduces the replication of costs and efforts that’s happening right now—which is a waste of an already small IT budget.
“Blockchain lets us redefine the economics of cyber security in many areas. We’re working in anti-malware but I’ve seen some other interesting ideas, ranging from giving people back control of their data to incentivizing better audits of smart contracts,” Steve Bassi, CEO of PolySwarm, a blockchain-based threat intelligence marketplace, said.
Machine learning goes mainstream
Machine learning (ML) is a type of artificial intelligence (AI). This complicated system processes large amounts of data to make predictions, i.e. provide insights, answer questions based on programming, etc. If this technology feels way off, think again. Geoff Hoppe, business intelligence expert, gives examples of machine learning in action in our life right now:
- Autonomous vehicles (probably the most commonly cited example of ML)
- The “did you mean” function when you misspell something in Google
- The ranking of “top things to do” in a Google search for a given topic
- Speech recognition capabilities (such as Siri)
For startups and small businesses, this technology will be available as software that allows you to address large sets of data, like product reviews, sales numbers or customer research.
Video turns everyone into a filmmaker
Content is still king—but video is becoming more and more important in order to remain competitive in recruiting, marketing and sales. Not only will video traffic account for 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2019, but video on a landing page, for example, can increase conversion rates by 80 percent, according to an EyeView case study.
Thanks to evolving technology, entrepreneurs don’t even need to work with a professional to create their own video content. Instead, with basic film skills, you can take the work in-house, creating videos for every aspect of your business, including:
- Social media
- Company-related/behind the scenes
You can even create your own animated video with some editing platforms, allowing you to stand out from your competitors who haven’t evolved into video—all while staying within budget.
The cloud is growing
Startups have been relying on the cloud for many years, which was traditionally used for email and storage. In 2018, the cloud is growing, becoming more mainstream and is available for nearly every aspect of business.
In fact, 23 percent of IT budgets in 2018 are allocated for hosted and cloud-based services among SMBs with less than 100 employees, according to the 2018 State of IT report by Spiceworks.
Among spending categories, the highest percentage of businesses reported an increase in cloud budget as compared to 2017. More businesses also reported a decrease in hardware budgets in the last year, according to the report.
This expansion of cloud use is making business easier and more efficient, with 46 percent of SMBs using the cloud for communication, 42 percent for backup/disaster recovery and 24 percent for productivity, according to the same Spiceworks report. This makes a lot of things easier, including remote employee management and collaboration, another growing trend among startups.
Get ready for tech
Small businesses are able to be more agile and effective thanks to technology across a wide range of industries, from marketing to cybersecurity. Keep an eye out for these trends and how you can use them to be more successful and profitable in 2018.