With over a 1.2 billion smartphones and tablets expected to sell this year alone and over 50% of businesses already turning to cloud computing solutions, technology is rapidly reshaping the business world. Coupled with increasingly globalized competition and the accelerating speed and impact of disruptive trends from mobile payments to advancements in online search, recommendation and review tools, it’s high-time you considered giving your own workplace an upgrade. Between increasingly affordable off the shelf technology and growing access to customers, it bears noting: There’s never better a better time to start, run or turbo-charge companies of every scope and size. Following are five key high-tech trends every working professional should be aware of going forward, which can help any enterprising executive boost productivity, revenues and performance seemingly overnight.
Cloud Storage and Applications – Smart devices are predicted to outnumber PCs by 2015, according to research firm IDC, even as mobile handsets become more powerful and a skyrocketing range of online applications effectively allows your desktop to travel wherever you do. Outsource data storage and archival to remote Internet servers, rendering key files and programs accessible on-demand from any high-speed connection, and employees can literally share, collaborate, and retrieve important files or updates virtually anytime, anywhere. Using these online storage and delivery systems, distributed workforces can join together in real-time to do business from hotel rooms or remotely-flung offices, and remain in constant contact no matter how far afield they go. Able to simplify IT management, enhance connectivity, and reduce infrastructure costs, all can help your team get the job done efficiently, and stay in contact, wherever business takes them. With the mobile workforce anticipated to swell to 1.3 billion by 2015, big data’s impact on everyday operations only threatens to grow in coming months.
Mobile Devices and Communications – Dozens of smartphones and tablet PCs are making massive gains in power, performance and connectivity. With screen sizes growing, battery life expanding, and processors making massive strides in horsepower as well, all are also offering an ever-expanding range of features and versatile software programs for solving common tasks from managing inventory to videoconferencing and conducting sizzling HD product demonstrations. Allowing you to juggle a full calendar, get turn-by-turn directions to meetings, or even offer customers specials and deals right from their pocket, these gadgets are becoming ever more important productivity tools. But beyond simply enhancing daily operations, such devices also continue to transform customer expectations and behaviors, increasingly demanding that businesses now design websites, content and media for consumption in ways best suited to these formats.
Content and Inbound Marketing – With more customers turning online to research and purchase goods and services than ever, and companies’ identities growingly defined by their online presence, firms in every field are increasingly finding themselves in the publishing business. Small wonder 78% of CMOs see custom content as the future of marketing according to promotions firm Hanley-Wood, while nearly nine of every ten B2B and B2C marketers currently swear by these advertising strategies. With word of mouth recommendation, online reviews, and social media booming in influence in impact, companies spent $118.4 billion on content, video and social media marketing last year alone. From email newsletters to promotional videos and targeted Facebook, Twitter and Google+ advertising campaigns, all potentially provide powerful, cost-effective ways to cut through daily life’s clutter, connect with buyers at crucial inflection points, and send click-through and revenue rates soaring.
Practical, Problem-Solving Development Approaches – In the past, businesses were quick to chase ambitious visions and attempt to raise the bar for innovation by building sprawling and wildly-ambitious creations. Today, a growing number of successful ventures are instead winning by adopting a philosophy based on smaller, faster, and less complex releases, instead chasing organic growth, and steadily improving products, services and strategies over time based on market feedback gained with each new launch. Market leaders in every field are growingly taking a more cautious approach. Like app developers, who ship products quickly, track customer habits, and make rapid improvements based on usage patterns, more entrepreneurs are finding growing success by pursuing smaller, speedier, more value-oriented debut approaches. Numerous low-cost, readily available technologies now let savvy business owners produce minimum viable products, launch faster, and learn more rapidly, allowing ample time to pivot, adjust strategy, or slash spending as needed.
Small Business Expert
Essential hints, tips & business advice for startups & entrepreneurs.
Technology usually makes its way to our workplaces long before it comes home. That’s because so much tech is engineered with the idea of getting things done more quickly, more efficiently, and with less stress to the user. Neither every idea nor every new gadget that comes to the workplace or any place of business sticks around forever, but when we look at 2012’s big trends, we can get a rough idea of what’s going to be big through 2013.
Here are 5 predictions about 2013’s business trends.
More competition between mobile phones – The mobile market is crowded, and it’s only going to get more packed as the year goes on. The iPhone will remain a household name, but it’s already being pushed around in a big way by phones that run Android, including the Samsung Galaxy S III. We can expect more competitive pricing as a result.
Lots more competition between tablet computers – While smartphone competition looks to be hot through 2013, the tablet market will get outright fierce, particularly between 7” models. The iPad Mini should be a popular choice, though the Google Nexus 7’s attractive price certainly won’t go unnoticed by people looking to perform a little portable computing.
More use of the cloud – Hard drives and other physical storage mediums will continue to give way in favor of the convenience of cloud storage. The rise of tablets combined with usage of the cloud will see more employees working on the go as opposed to being chained to a desk and a PC.
More businesses implementing Wi-Fi Hotspots – More and more businesses, particularly retail and dining establishments, will offer free Wi-Fi to keep customers inside their walls. McDonalds and Starbucks have already done so with great success.
Long-term switch to HTML 5 and web apps – Over 2013, the popularity and usage of native apps will fade in favor of web-based apps running HTML 5. Apps certainly won’t disappear tomorrow, but consumers and users will find themselves directed to the web more and more often.
For more 2013 business trends, take a look at Gartner Inc’s 2013 trends.
Small Business Expert
Essential hints, tips & business advice for startups & entrepreneurs.
Are you looking to upgrade your tablet over the coming year? Or maybe 2013 will be the year that marks the purchase of your first tablet. Either way, the bustling tablet market has you covered: There are more models to select from than ever before, and they’re all available in a multitude of colors, sizes, and price brackets. And between iOS, Windows, and Android, you even have your choice of operating systems.
Stumped on what you ought to buy? Here are the top ten tablets for 2013.
iPad (Fourth Generation) – The iPad is still the go-to brand for tablet computers. The highly popular device is now into its fourth iteration and boasts powerful hardware, a familiar interface, and tons of game and app support courtesy of the App Store.
iPad Mini – Apple’s trimmed-down answer to the 7” tablet craze is approximately as powerful as the iPad 2, and for the most part it supports the same apps and games as its larger cousins.
Nexus 7 – Looking for an Android-based tablet that’s affordable and versatile? This little fellow from Google and Asus might be your answer. It’s perfect for reading eBooks and watching television programs, and it’ll only set you back $299 USD.
Microsoft Surface – This laptop/tablet hybrid is the perfect buy for anyone who wants the portability of a tablet, but the accuracy of a keyboard. Its detachable keyboard doubles as a protective cover, and there are two versions to choose from: A model that comes with Windows RT, and a model that includes Windows 8 Pro.
Motorola Droid Xyboard / Xoom 2 – The Xyboard is smaller, sleeker, and faster than its predecessor, Xoom. The “media edition” of the tablet can stream content from your PC, and the whole package has been made water-resistant. Perfect for bad weather, though we don’t recommend taking it for a dunk in the pool.
Sony Xperia Tablet S – The Xperia Tablet S is the successor to the Sony Tablet S. It has a thinner, lighter design than its ancestor, and an improved camera. It’s even equipped with an infrared blaster, which lets you use the device as a universal remote.
Asus eee Pad Transformer Prime – Arguably the coolest-named tablet in the world, the Asus eee Transformer Prime actually does transform from a tablet to a more complete laptop. All you need to do is pick up the Prime’s optional docking keyboard for a little QWERTY power.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 – Samsung’s popular tablet runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Delicious, but what does it mean for you? It means tons of processing power that blasts through work during the day, and deliver gentle stories at night. Between books, pictures, movies, and video, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is a perfect family media hub.
Kindle Fire HD – The Kindle Fire HD is the color-screen follow-up to Amazon’s enormously popular Kindle line of book readers. It runs on a modified version of Ice Cream Sandwich, and is capable of playing video, movies, and games. Needless to say, you can also read ebooks off it. All yours for a still-affordable $199 USD.
Blackberry Playbook – The Blackberry Playbook may not have set the world on fire upon its initial release, but price cuts have made it more attractive. You can use the Playbook to make and record videos, play games, and much more. Interestingly, the Playbook is pre-loaded with an app that grants access to over 1,500 films from the National Film Board of Canada, which makes the device worth the price of admission for nostalgic Canadians.