As the world becomes more and more digital, everyone – from your average consumer to the world's top leaders – has been forced to adapt and adapt to large-scale change . Over the last two years, cybersecurity has proven to be a bigger and harder hurdle than anyone would have expected, while the rapid pace of technological implementation in every facet of society has radically altered the commercial infrastructure.
These were not always tumultuous waters for entrepreneurs and leaders of small organizations. A few years ago, small businesses could go on for a while without adapting to change, eagerly awaiting to evaluate what new solutions were effective enough to stay in place. while the others fell to the water. Nowadays, the adoption, implementation, integration, mastery and even replacement of new business technology solutions seem to occur in the same amount of time. This kind of schedule means that even small businesses must be on the lookout for digital change on the horizon instead of just reacting to this change once they have noticed its effectiveness. To this end, here are five digital trends that small businesses should follow in 2018 and beyond.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things, aka IoT, is a term that represents all devices connected to the Internet beyond computers and phones. Smart TVs, smart refrigerators, wearables, virtual personal assistants such as Amazon or Amazon's Siri, and even wireless pacemakers – all of these devices represent the future of connectivity.
A fine example of how IoT has changed – and is changing – is to find a particular industry by turning to public roads.
"Less than two years ago, Uber and Lyft dramatically changed the way people in big cities find transportation," write experts at the University of Ohio. "Services have already eroded the profits of taxi companies and decreased DUI rates in many cities."
While taxi companies lament and that Uber and Lyft drivers celebrate in the now, the latter may soon join the first in the defeat; As artificial intelligence (AI) increases, the self-driving smart car can completely replace drivers.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
The aforementioned Alexa and Siri are good examples of AI in its infancy. While traditional science fiction might make you believe that these virtual assistants are a line of bad code far away from lighting up their human creators, the truth is a lot more milquetoast. The power of AI is twofold: first of all, the algorithms on which the AI runs are able to detect patterns from data sets that the The human eye would never catch. Secondly, once the AI system has chosen these patterns, it can use its new knowledge to act autonomously on the best course of action, in an automated way.
Expert writers who write for Collat School of Business at the University of Alabama summarize by saying that, essentially, AI bridges the gap between human capacity and Big Data
"For example, without the AI, IT professionals can spend hours or days trying to discover exactly what is blocking applications or systems of a company," they write. "With AI, professionals can know exactly what type of error they are looking for, which makes filtering their data logs infinitely easier. This could reduce the workload by half or more. "
Of course, you can not analyze if you have no data to analyze – but since IoT is perpetually producing new data sets larger than the human teams can analyze effectively, "not having data" should never be an excuse.
The wealth of data that exists in our world is staggering. It is everywhere, populated in real time on servers around the world, to the point that there is almost too . Whether or not you are able to find that's not the question … HOW you find it, however, is a bit trickier.
Google Analytics is one of the areas in which every business analysis professional must extract data.
"Google Analytics provides unpublished information about the performance of a website or application, and whether they meet the company's goals," reports Christopher Smith, president of the company. AGI in Boston, Massachusetts. "It can be used to determine how visitors locate a site, what actions are performed on a page, the effectiveness of specific pages, and whether visitors perform the desired tasks."
One of the reasons Google Analytics is such an attractive data source is that Google already has access to all this information. Those who consider themselves daring might instead reap their own data, perhaps through A / B testing, or potentially even through polls and surveys via e-mail and social media.
Social media as a technological trend? Well, duh-seems pretty obvious no? Social media began to take over our collective life in the early 2000s with the advent of MySpace and later Facebook. However, by the time marketers and professionals learned how to harness the power of these platforms, users had already evolved on Twitter. Now, Instagram, Snapchat and a myriad of other apps have a potential that too many small businesses simply can not exploit.
Just as important as the platforms on which your company maintains a presence is exactly how you maintain that presence. 69% of PR professionals believe that social media is more about conversation and engagement than about simply communicating information to an audience. Some even claim that social media has spurred a transcendent movement that goes beyond inbound and outbound marketing in what is called "conversational marketing."
Conversational marketing encompasses the fact that customers expect companies to be reachable and responsive through multiple channels, and that they engage customers directly. Sometimes, the AI merges with these channels in the form of chatbots that can help users with simple queries. Whatever the case may be, customers are more likely to pay attention and trust companies that stay up to current social trends, including the presence of the media.
Last, but not least on this list, is the growing trend of cybercrime. A recent report from the data security company Malwarebytes Labs shows that ransomware attacks in particular have increased by 2000 percent between 2015 and 2017.
"With all these attacks in 2017, ransomware will probably pose a serious threat to individuals and businesses as in 2018," writes Michael Nuncic, data recovery expert for Kroll Ontrack. "It does not matter if the attacker is aiming to get out of the money of this" business "or if he wants to destroy infrastructure or businesses, he will find flaws in your network, your IT system. 39, operating or your data security processes. "
The most critical points that attackers exploit exist in commercial infrastructures that do not take into account software updates and that skimp on the training and education of employees in cybersecurity. Make sure you maintain consistent backups and take steps to consolidate your prevention and recovery procedures.
Overall, small business leaders and entrepreneurs who focus on the road ahead, stay agile and inform future trends are those who will succeed in a world as heavy of change technology than ours. It takes confidence to succeed in staying in such a dynamic playground and this trust comes from knowledge. Stay up-to-date on current events and industry insights, and you'll see yourself leading your team to new heights. The alternative is a reactionary existence that always sees your organization a step behind the competition. Do your due diligence; do not be left behind by technology.