Technology is evolving at an exponential rate, and it’s changing every rule that every business has followed for generations. But the latest tech trends aren’t just for big-name brands: They can, and will, help small businesses compete on a bigger scale by improving customer service, reducing the cost of growth, enhancing in-house efficiency and so much more.
These three trends are the most accessible, and beneficial, for freelancers and small businesses alike.
Get smart with payment solutions
Cash, checks, plastic credit cards. Pretty soon, these payment solutions will dissipate as smart technology takes over and mobile payment solutions become the norm. It’s already happening in China, where nearly every consumer in every urban area utilizes mobile phones for transactions. Even street musicians.
The rest of the world isn’t far behind. By the end of 2019, experts estimate that over 2 billion consumers will utilize mobile payment options. This trend is partly the result of today’s consumer looking to streamline what they carry around, and partly due to the decline of a standard plastic credit card’s security.
Apple Pay and Google Pay are the most well-known mobile payment apps, but you can also build your own mobile payment or shopping app specifically for your business. Add in the influx of voice-enabled devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home—and the ultra-swift swipe payments available with smartwatches—and small businesses will need to adopt new payment options before consumers stop carrying around cash and plastic cards. Especially if your business targets millennials—over half of this demographic utilizes mobile payments as of 2018.
But this trend isn’t just about future-proofing your business. Mobile payment options and smart technology improve customer experiences, streamline sales and accounting processes and minimize transaction costs. All of which are a win for small businesses with small budgets. Check out this article to dive deeper into the constantly evolving world of payments.
Speed up growth with augmented analytics
You know the only way to get a sizable return on investment with internet marketing strategies, and make thoughtful goals for your business, is to pay close, close attention to your analytics. But doing so takes a lot of time.
Enter augmented analytics, the tech trend that powerhouse company Gartner, Inc. says will become mainstream sooner rather than later. These applications organize and analyze your raw data and then convert it into understandable insights and next-steps. Using machine learning algorithms to pinpoint patterns, they transform human language into actionable information, correct reporting errors and help you sift through data utilizing natural search queries rather than SQL.
What are the end benefits? There are loads. Augmented analytics give you a deeper understanding of your data at a significantly more rapid pace, enable you to better utilize available resources while getting closer to your target base, and help you make smarter business decisions all-around.
These tools are already being integrated into small business favorites like Salesforce’s Einstein Discovery and Google’s Cloud Machine Learning Engine. Other options you can utilize to sift through your current data include DataRobot, Endor and SparkBeyond.
Streamline work processes with artificial intelligence
When you don’t have the money to hire a full staff of employees, you need to find ways to reduce your overall workload. Enter artificial intelligence (AI). Experts estimate that 2019 will be the year small businesses, and freelancers, begin to fully embrace the plethora of benefits these products offer.
Biz.me has already covered the benefits of deploying chatbots to improve customer service and customer experience. But that isn’t the only type of AI out there. Between AI assistants, advanced customer relationship management (CRM) software, programs deployed by Facebook and Google to find and target customers, and research apps that explain the personalities of your base, the options are endless. AI-enhanced tools and programs can also beef up security, help you anticipate customer needs and even make hiring actual employees a simpler, shorter process than ever before.
Bonus: Blueshift, creator of an advanced AI platform for marketers, conducted a study with SurveyMonkey’s TechValidate in early 2018 that found that not only have 64% of businesses started to utilize AI-powered tools, apps and products, but 75% of those businesses overwhelmingly saw increases in revenue.
Don’t worry: You don’t need Amazon’s budget to start deploying this type of technology. Tools like WorkFusion help you plug AI directly into your existing workflows (no coding experience required), while products like Acquisio utilize AI to set up massive campaigns for your business in just minutes. Then, they deploy machine learning and automated analytics to help you get the most out of any size marketing budget.
Remember: Businesses that don’t stay a step ahead frequently fall miles behind. You may not be able to justify jumping on these trends today, but you should definitely keep them in your peripheral so you’re ready to pounce before it’s too late.