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Five tech trends that will help grow your business

Five tech trends that will help grow your business

Business technologies are evolving in leaps and bounds, and it’s important for entrepreneurs to be aware of the range of opportunities they offer. Here are some of the ways that everyday businesses are successfully applying the latest advances.

 

1. Wearable technology

Google Glass is no doubt the most famous example, and an Australian company has partnered with Telstra to develop an application that helps visually and hearing-impaired people ‘see’ objects and follow spoken conversations. Widespread use might seem far-fetched for now, but imagine taking a cue from Virgin Atlantic, which ran a trial that enabled agents to keep personal attention on their customers while they checked them into their flight. Those in the hospitality or retail industries could also use facial recognition features to greet regulars by name without relying on their own memories.

In January 2015 Google announced that it would stop selling the Google Glass Explorer edition to consumers, however businesses and developers will still have access to it.

Another recent innovation is a safety inspection app that runs on Android-powered smartwatches, allowing workers to perform hands-free safety inspections in hazardous environments. Application opportunities in the trades, in particular, abound.

2. 3D printing

Perfect for creating customised gifts and artwork, 3D printing is also making inroads with engineering and manufacturing as the technology improves and 3D printers become more affordable. Applications include prototyping, creating spare parts that are complex or difficult to source and 3D faxing, which saves time and shipping costs. Australian company Magellan Technology used 3D plastic jet prototyping to accelerate the development of its document tray reader product. Smaller operations can use 3D printing to create prototypes to present to potential investors for their latest product concept.

3. Cloud computing

Small businesses can reap significant cost savings just by shifting basic IT functions such as email and data storage to a cloud service. The cloud can boost productivity by outsourcing IT support and maintenance to an external provider. It also opens the door to better mobility and scalability, facilitating business growth. An Australian labour hire company used cloud technology to replace paper-based processes and expensive on-premises server equipment, improving productivity and increasing revenue.

4. CRM

Customer relationship management isn’t new, but it’s only recently that powerful CRM has been within the reach of small businesses, thanks largely to cloud-based SaaS (software as a service). As well as uncovering more sales opportunities, CRM can be used to improve the customer experience. Off-road vehicle dealership Kimberly Kampers uses cloud-based CRM to meet its customers’ needs across its nine locations.

5. Mobile accounting

Smartphones and tablets have become indispensable business tools, allowing staff to be productive from any location. Now, companies such as Billcue offer mobile-friendly accounting tools that can be used to quote, invoice, add clients and record expenses from anywhere via a mobile device.

With desktop computers and fax machines going the way of the Rolodex, almost any small business can benefit from a technology reboot. These are just a few of the tools that can help the savvy business owner cut expenses, improve efficiency and gain a competitive edge.

If you feel paralysed by the breadth of business technologies available to you, it might be time to appoint an ambassador of innovation to lead the way. Learn what else a chief innovation officer can do to keep your business moving forward.

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