Although it’s doubtful he knew about cloud computing or tablet computers, Heraclitus was really on to something nearly 2500 years ago when he realized that there is nothing as constant as change. And that old axiom continues to ring true for today’s entrepreneurs and enterprises. Below are 10 business technology trends working professionals need to stay on top of to remain competitive.
Tablet PCs – Tablet PCs and computers are changing nearly everything about the way business is done. From pitch presentations to quarterly reports, client meetings to weekly internal pow-wows, company website design to marketing and advertising banners, nearly every aspect of business must now involve and embrace the ubiquity of tablet computers.
Wireless Integration – Offices and workspaces must no longer be defined by standard cubicles and workstations with bundles of wires popping through holes in the desk. The use of reliability of wireless network means that PCs, tablets and smartphones can be connected anywhere, so the only reason to settle on one place any more is to make sure your device is charging – so make sure you’ve got plenty of electrical outlets in your conference room.
Telecommuting Evolved – With constant contact, access and reachability, the lines between work and home life continue to be blurred. When does the work day really start and end when you check e-mails just before going to bed and just after waking up? While telecommuting used to mean hassle for business setting up remote users, it now actually means that employees are spending more and more time on work tasks, even away from the office.
Online Video – Although it makes it tougher to get away with doodling your way through an international conference call, video conferencing allows for greater collaboration among multiple offices and individuals, and is an easy way to visually share ideas.
Cloud Computing – Thanks to cloud storage, data no longer needs to be stored on a central server, or live on a single office computer. The rise of the cloud makes it imperative your business and employees can access any document or spreadsheet wherever they want, whenever they want. Even if you’re running a one-man startup, make sure you utilize a cloud-based storage solution to ensure your data is not device-specific.
Online Security – With all this wireless networking and access to info in the cloud, the need to keep data secure is even more important, especially when confidential information is at stake. Make sure you or your IT department is using the latest encryption and security measures to accommodate for data transmission over the air.
Social Media – While this is hardly a new trend, the fact is that many business and small business continue to figure out what it takes to make social media be successful for them. For starters, it takes a time investment for someone to take charge of your company’s social media identity and engage with others. But many companies are also finding that what keeps customers interested and coming back is more than just being there – you must add value to their lives, whether through helping them out or even providing coupons or discounts if your business offers products or services.
Data Tracking – Whether it’s through online surveys or geo-tagging data to find out information about how and where customers are using your products, the depth and detail of data is providing for unprecedented analysis and dissection of trends and techniques which can lead to better allocation of your business’s time and resources.
Gamification – Using techniques that have been refined and proven in the most successful video games, companies are using gamification to enhance their connections with customers by offering rewards, opportunities for sharing and small achievements which make using products seem like part of a much greater endeavor. Principles of gamification are an important way that many small businesses continue to set themselves apart.
Part-Time Workers and Solopreneurs – Perhaps it’s a circumstance of the downturn in the economy, but many of the best and brightest minds are available on a part-time or freelance basis, and companies are taking advantage. The upside is that many will offer their services at a very competitive rate, without the need for benefits or other costs-of-compensation. More and more, businesses are relying on these non full-time employees for key elements of their business.