Guest post by Cayden Whitmond
Now more than ever, the future of business is one shaped by fast-paced innovations to technology and the way that work is done. In the past, emerging tech may have been exclusive to bigger businesses, but today there are plenty of solutions that specifically have SMB owners in mind.
Because tech innovations occur so rapidly today, the small business ecosystem—and the small business owners who may not have the insights or resources to keep pace with new tech sprints—risks falling behind larger corporations that are utilizing these solutions. That’s why it’s imperative to remain aware of emerging software, automation and machinery that may directly affect your business.
Artificial Intelligence is here to stay
A recent survey, including participants from businesses of all sizes, found that 61% of all who responded believe artificial intelligence and machine learning would be their “most significant data initiative for next year.”
Already, small businesses are witnessing firsthand the effects of artificial intelligence—and how it may serve as an equalizer when up against large competitors. Team members responsible for recruiting new talent can use AI to rapidly sift through applications to find the best talent. And marketing specialists can wield today’s available AI tools to better identify their target audience and allocate advertising resources more wisely.
If you are in a leadership position and find your days bogged down by menial tasks, AI may drastically improve your productivity. Machine learning is designed to detect patterns of information and respond accordingly, resulting in increased operational efficiency. This gives you the time and energy needed to tackle top-of-mind objectives and stay ahead of your competition.
Call centers and chatbots aren’t just for big business
There’s a good chance that you associate the words “call center” and “bot” with larger organizations who don’t have the capacity to handle the high volume of calls from customers around the clock.
However, many call center services have adopted the large-scale benefits of enterprise call systems for a tailored, small-business experience. This includes easier management between customer care providers, analytics to help track the customer’s experience and an ease of scalability to accommodate growing businesses. By converting to a call center product, business owners can better manage resources to serve their customers more efficiently—and without a reduction in customer experience.
If you’re concerned with maintaining your online presence, chatbots may be another solution for small businesses looking to increase their customer base. Businesses who don’t have the bandwidth to answer after-hours customer inquiries can use these AI-driven tools to provide instant responses, which can reduce frustration with wait times, drive sales and a multitude of other benefits.
Cyber-attack campaigns target small business information
As more small businesses integrate digital solutions, SMB owners should anticipate higher numbers of cyber attacks than ever before. With as many as 43% of cybersecurity breaches targeting small businesses specifically, is your business doing everything to protect online information from hackers and spammers?
Strengthen your cyber defenses by educating your employees on some of the most common methods that thieves employ to steal both personal and company information. Phishing emails, which often use a misleading link or attachment to attack devices and plant malware, can be easily avoided if the recipient knows what to look for and alerts your IT professional accordingly.
Other simple steps, such as destroying paper documentation with information like usernames and passwords, also make it more difficult for your information to get into the wrong hands. As another solution, password management tools are a secure method of storing log-in information and can also help you generate better passwords using random key generation.
Cyber breaches are expensive endeavors that could jeopardize the longevity of your business, which is why you’ll want to stay secure while integrating new tech into your small business.
Questions: What tech trends are most affecting your markets? How are you keeping up with technology? Please leave a comment in the space below.
With experience writing for thought leaders and business tech audiences, Cayden Whitmond is an insights expert whose specialties include emerging solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses.
The Product Management Perspective: As a product manager, technology is the game, it’s what you do. Whether your primary customers are SMBs or other segments, you need to stay on top of technology trends and work hard to make sure you understand how it’s affecting your markets.