Technology is always changing; if you want your business to survive, you’re going to need to change with it. The past few years have been ripe with exciting changes to how we access the Internet and use technology to improve our own lives, and businesses have responded by developing new tactics to improve their infrastructure and online visibility.
2015 looks to accelerate these trends to a new level, keeping business owners on their toes as they struggle to stay ahead of the curve.
No matter what you do, these five emerging technology trends are going to change your business. It’s up to you whether that change is positive or negative:
1. Cloud Computing
Most people are aware that the “cloud” exists but aren’t aware of its purpose or how it’s affecting the way we use technology on a daily basis. Essentially, cloud computing is a means of data storage and provision that allows a centralized information database that can be accessed through practically any Internet-abled device. As an example in practical terms, a cloud-based storage system could house your important files, which could in turn be accessed by your laptop, tablet, and smartphone independently.
Cloud computing has become popular to the point where it’s an accepted buzzword, but many businesses have still failed to adopt it in any form. Tech companies or software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies could easily use the cloud to improve their products and services, but more importantly, businesses can use the cloud to improve their internal communications. Through cloud technology, your entire workforce can remain in constant contact with one another, and never find themselves without the data, functionality, or communication they need.
Related Article: The Internet of Things: What Does It Have to Do With Business?
2. Big Data
Big data is another buzz-worthy term that really started evolving toward the end of 2012. That specific term is starting to wane in popularity, but the ability to gather massive amounts of data in faster, easier ways is still emerging. Due to advanced analytic capabilities, companies will be able to gather very specific information about their customers’ identities and behavior, and eventually analyze that data to make detailed predictions and decisions on the company’s behalf.
Up until now, big data analysis has been used primarily by large corporations and firms, with enormous client bases and the budget to afford such advanced data gathering and interpretation. However, as this data gathering technology begins to evolve further, it’s likely going to be more attainable and more practical for small- to medium-sized businesses.
The more you know about your market and your customers, the better you’ll be able to respond to them with your marketing messages, your product offerings, and the overall direction of the company. Fail to do so, and your competition will have a key opportunity to swoop in with better, more advanced insights.
3. 3D Printing
The 3D printing trend is expected to continue growing, with 3D printer shipments doubling in 2015, and doubling again in 2016. That’s an incredible amount of growth for the technology, and user adoption will likely grow alongside it.
Some businesses have a misconception that 3D printing is a form of manufacturing, and therefore, only the manufacturing or product-based businesses of the world will be affected by the growing trend. However, this isn’t the case. 3D printing will greatly benefit the manufacturing industry, but it will also serve as valuable in creating prototypes and creating biomedical applications. Furthermore, any products created through 3D printing that previously required more expensive, more complex equipment will be cheaper, which means any of these products your business needs will decrease in costs.
As more technology permeates our day-to-day lives, the need for advanced security increases. There are countless vulnerabilities in keeping all your data in one location, the most significant of which is being vulnerable to hackers or data leaks. The need for security is two-fold, as companies must increase their internal security to protect their own assets and simultaneously increase their public security to protect the information of their users.
As an example, companies should upgrade to secure hosting via an SSL certificate (if they haven’t already), have multi-layer authentication for customer transactions, and inform their users with information about security in the digital age. Larger companies can also benefit from having a dedicated technician working to find and remove vulnerabilities in their code.
Related Article: Mixing Business and Pleasure: Data Storage in the Digital Age
5. Wearable Technology
Wearable technology, in the form of smart watches and the now-defunct Google Glass, has started to develop in fits and spurts, but it’s really set to take off in 2015 with the release of the Apple Watch (shown below). Expect to see the adoption rates for wearable technology skyrocket over the next few years.
The dawn of wearable technology will change the way people interact with the world around them. Mobile searches will become voice-dependent and more locally specific, changing the course of SEO and pushing the boundaries for what makes the best online presence. Users will demand interactive content, with a seamless blending of real-world experiences and digital data. And the traditional website might eventually fall in favor of easier, more intuitive in-device applications. As a business owner, it pays to start preparing for these changes as early as possible.
It’s impossible to accurately predict how every technology will impact your business or your bottom line, but it pays to be aware of tech developments as they occur and work proactively to respond to them before your competition. Adopting a new strategy leveraging an emerging technology or adjusting your marketing campaign to respond to emerging types of customers could be just the advantage you need to get a leg up on your competitors. Stay flexible in 2015 and beyond, and use emerging technologies to improve your business.