Business owners are always looking for new ways to do more in less time. Ninety percent of small businesses surveyed for the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association study say technology has had a positive business impact – automation and efficiency being major benefits.
So, if technology holds the key to business edge, what’s hot in the world of tech for 2015 and how can you introduce it into your business?
1. Everything is connected
The Internet of Things (IoT) brings connectivity to Australia’s mining industry, home security and even light bulbs, but it will also directly affect small and medium businesses. Consumers are already using fitness bands and smartwatches to track and connect 24/7. It’s fair to say that in 2015, smart businesses will continue to find ways to utilise these new wearable technology platforms to better serve customers and employees.
IoT will continue to have an impact on businesses at the enterprise level moving into the New Year, as companies use the technology to track machinery and equipment, manage building energy needs, and monitor the daily use of company cars. Other challenges will present themselves, like the avalanche of emails on wearables making it more difficult for small business owners to switch off, but easier for them to keep track of their business activities, even when they’re nowhere near the office, site or warehouse.
2. Big data everywhere
Big data is being used widely by many businesses, from predicting what customers want before they ask for it to improving customer interactions. The good news is data analytics are no longer exclusive to large companies with huge spending budgets. Analytics are now built into the applications businesses use every day, with reporting allowing them to gain insight that can help them operate more productively.
As 2015 begins, it’s a good idea to research the data recording options built into the software and platforms powering your websites, social media sites, customer support desk, and virtual call center solutions. If the services you’re currently using don’t offer analytics, it’s time to change. By constantly monitoring processes, business owners can pinpoint areas that can be adjusted to improve efficiency and save time.
3. Cloud adoption
As 2014 comes to a close, nearly 90 percent of all businesses have adopted some form of cloud technology. In many instances, companies are operating in a hybrid cloud environment, using cloud applications but maintaining on-premise servers.In 2015, businesses will continue to realise the many benefits of cloud technology, including the ability to access files and applications from anywhere, using any device. Logging into email and updating project files while waiting for a dental appointment or travelling to a business meeting means that even when you’re out of the office, you’re not out of touch.
4. Location-free workplaces
The definition of “office” is evolving. Instead of travelling through peak-hour traffic to an office to work an eight-hour day, business owners will now have the opportunity to work in their pyjamas. Well, sort of. By being able to log in remotely at home or from hotel rooms via NBN-powered fast connections, business owners can host meetings via smart video conferencing platforms and collaborate with overseas suppliers ‘face to face’.
The number of teleworkers in Australia is expected to increase in 2015, as more locations have access to high-speed broadband internet. But this remote office situation poses some security risks. Businesses have to ensure precautions are in place to keep data safe, especially if work files will be accessed on public WiFi networks (like in a café). ‘Bring Your Own Device’ security will be a hot topic over the next few years.
5. Digital influencers
From posting updates and creating compelling content that gets readers to click, through to implementing SEO and maintaining a healthy email database, it’s no secret businesses value their online interactions. This is set to evolve in 2015, with business owners approaching bloggers and influencers in their field to increase their network, and to extend their reputation.
This will bring a shift in marketing attention as entrepreneurs spend time reaching out to influencers rather than posting their own updates and blog content. While their own efforts will still be important, business owners will be able to target their potential audiences through a trusted and valuable resource.
6. 3D printing
We’ll admit that 2015 will likely not be the year we see a 3D printer in every office. But Australian businesses are primed for the technology, and a new state-of-the-art facility in Melbourne is ready to help. The Advanced Manufacturing Plant will print parts for businesses, including education, mining, and automotive companies.
Over time, 3D printing is expected to greatly advance the manufacturing industry, saving money and improving turnaround time. Eventually, all businesses are expected to have their own 3D printers on site to be able to print prototypes and parts as needed, rather than ordering them from overseas suppliers. Once the technology makes its way to the consumer market, businesses can offer products online that customers can print at home. Small businesses can get on board now by keeping informed on the opportunities 3D Printing holds in their industry.
When it comes to your own business, itâs great to keep your team in the loop. If you come across new technology or digital solutions, discuss it with them â they may also have some brilliant ideas to ensure a seamless and productive workplace.
Kick off 2015 with a team meeting and get their thoughts on:
- The connected home and office
- Data and analytics
- Cloud technology
- The mobile office
- Digital influencers
- 3D printers