Emerging tech trends for small businesses
When you own a small business, it can be easy to wonder if your business could perform better by implementing better technology. There are plenty of tech trends out there that promise better bookkeeping or more sales, but — given the implementation costs — how do you know which is a wise investment for your business?
Here are six emerging tech trends to consider for your small business that will positively impact your day-to-day right now:
- AI-based marketing analytics locate audiences
Artificial intelligence (AI) used to be viewed as a technology that was used only in billion-dollar companies, but many small businesses are using it to their advantage today. AI technology allows businesses to improve efficiency in their processes by collecting, organizing and analyzing the data they generate.
For small businesses that might not be able to afford dedicated business analytics software, there are still ways to use AI in audience analysis. AI-based advertising used on platforms like Facebook have made reaching your qualified, targeted customer easier than ever. Try creating lookalike audiences to reach potential customers and even larger audiences online.
- Voice search optimization takes center stage
People use voice search as one of the top ways to find information online, especially as smart speakers and assistants like the Google Home get more popular. According to a recent report published by PwC, 65 percent of 25-to-49-year-olds speak to their voice-enabled device at least once per day; 18-to-24-year-olds are a close second at 59 percent.
SEO experts have been talking about voice search for a while now, so optimizing your content for voice will increase your visibility online and get instant information to your customers faster when that change inevitably comes. Start by focusing your efforts on local search terms to boost your local business.
- Chatbot customer service becomes accessible
The use of chatbots has increased in popularity over the past few years, and the technology is slated to keep growing for years to come. Today’s customer wants instant access to companies to answer questions or receive support — which chatbots can provide 24/7. Plus they can also interact with hundreds of customers at the same time, meaning chatbot technology enables you to provide instant and consistent answers to multiple customer questions at once. Chatbot builders, such as MobileMonkey, create bots for businesses, offering more leads and increasing engagement.
As the tech becomes more ubiquitous, it also becomes more affordable and easier to implement. Not only is this technology improving customer satisfaction, it’s also a great cost-saving option to cut down on customer service personnel.
- Facilities management gets smarter
Some smart cleaning and monitoring technologies have already made headway in the realm of residential maintenance, and they’re catching on in the business sphere too. Using smart vacuums, thermostats, and lighting can easily boost office efficiency while making it easier than ever to keep the office running smoothly.
Several security companies have also pivoted around this connected-tech trend, consolidating control and compatibility with devices like the Amazon Echo, rolling one more facet of facilities management under the same easy-to-control hub.
- Online training closes the gap
Seminar-based training is quickly becoming a thing of the past thanks to online business training platforms. While eLearning isn’t exactly an emerging tech, the trend of focusing more on online training (instead of in-person training, in some cases) is just getting started: According to LinkedIn Learning’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report, 59 percent of learning and development professionals are increasing their spends for online learning from what they were in 2017.
Your knowledge is the backbone of your business, so consider growing your skillset through easy-to-access self-based training programs. Many of the websites allow for you to purchase business packages to let other members of your company utilize the educational videos as well. Training this way is flexible, scalable and oftentimes more affordable than finding space and personnel for in-person seminars.
- Influencer marketing goes nano
Influencer marketing has been around for a few years now, but today’s buyer is looking for even more authentic marketing from companies. People want connection. Specific social media influencers can help you grow your brand and customer base instantly, because their audience is your audience.
Interestingly, it’s not just big influencers making a mark anymore. In 2019, there’s been a turn toward nano-influencers, who reach smaller audiences—but do so with more authenticity than the giant personalities. This is great news for small businesses, as smaller influencers often have lower costs for partnership.
As a business owner, the onslaught of tech offers can be overwhelming, and adapting to new technology can be even more daunting. As you implement new tech into your business, look toward the trends noted here, and remember that the long-term outcomes can be well worth the initial costs.
Written by: Bailey Caldwell, BOSS Contributor
Bailey is a freelance journalist with a technical writing background. She enjoys researching and learning about new resources and technologies and has a passion for helping small businesses in their day-to-day work. Bailey has written for a variety of online publications.