3. AI, analytics and machine learning
These hot buzzwords may sound impossible for a small business investment. While developing custom AI applications is beyond the reach of the small business, there is an important exception: New technologies that let you do more with your own data are being built into off-the-shelf software offerings all the time.
With analytics, for example, you can monitor business performance, customer preferences and market trends. Real-time feedback can help you make more informed decisions. Machine learning, for instance, is something you’ve seen through companies such as Netflix and Amazon, who make personalized suggestions for what to watch or buy next. That’s machine learning in action. Your business may be able to use similar applications to automate processes and help employees prioritize, while filtering out irrelevant information.
The key for small businesses is to identify which software and software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendors are moving in this direction, and hitch their wagon to the fastest-moving train. That may mean shifting from one CRM supplier to another, or picking a different project management tool, but the power of some of these new technologies makes it worthwhile even for small businesses.
Many small businesses have a difficult time committing to technology evolution. But with the rapid development of more advanced tools, it’s definitely worthwhile to perform an environmental scan of your more important applications to see what you might be missing — or if there’s a feature you haven’t explored yet that could help.
Small businesses may not have the resources to make big IT investments, but they can leverage the tools and products available in the marketplace to companies of all sizes. Of all the tech trends in the marketplace, cloud, mobility and new smart AI-powered software have the best fit for small businesses to improve their bottom line and increase their competitiveness.
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