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The business world really didn’t change much for a century after the Industrial Revolution. Most people don’t think we’ll ever see this happen again though.
In fact, technology is now developing, mutating, and adapting so fast you can’t help but be swept away by its progress. Although you may not believe how far we’ve come, just look back in the not so distant past and you’ll see we have.
A few of these include:
- Social media is struggling to integrate with consumerism.
- Mobile phones are no longer being used just by businesses or for “work.” Now they’re used for “casual” pursuits too.
- The cloud was relatively non-existent in the past – especially for small to mid-sized businesses.
- Apps were primarily concerned with games until recently.
Of course, there are other ways too – some noteworthy enough for us to pay a little more attention to.
Mobility is “The Next Big Thing”. This is so true that Google has now revamped its algorithms to prioritize those websites that make seamless mobile web browsing easier for people.
Every part of your business can now be handled from remote locations if you have the correct software on your smart device – including sales enablement, content marketing, customer relations, shipping and invoicing.
Mobile isn’t just for you. It’s for your consumers too. More Millennials use mobile devices to buy, sell, shop, find local businesses, and share their retail experiences with friends, acquaintances, prospects, and Facebook strangers than you could possibly imagine. This paradigm shift has helped rewrite the book on marketing to prospects.
The cloud lets any size of business move some operations to third-party servers that are easily accessible via Internet connectivity. This allows for fast, on-demand expansion and mobility without fearing things like downtime, crashes, or losing data permanently. For small business this means they now have access to resources that would have been cost prohibitive for them in the past. This has evened the playing field when it comes to competing against larger corporations with bigger budgets.
Extreme Customer Segmentation
As an increasing amount of data is now flowing about it’s becoming easier for businesses to understand what their customers want. Analytics services are even available to help you segment your prospects into smaller and smaller groups so you can target them specifically. This will help you get more bang for your marketing buck.
All you need to get started is a simple Google account. This will tell you a multitude of information, including:
- Where your visitors are coming from
- What type of browser they’re using
- How they found your website
- What they do while visiting your website
- How long they stay at your website
- At what point they chose
This will help you refine your processes, offerings, and approach in a way that dramatically increases your conversions.
Technology has also made it easier for people to stay in touch by using a cloud-based phone system. This lets you text and video chat with your customers and employees at a moment’s notice. It’s also become easier to send targeted promotional email blasts to prequalified customers when they’re shopping at businesses near yours. Today’s mobile technology blends almost seamlessly with communication software in a way that creates a hyper-real web of real time information.
Decreasing Cost and Increasing Functionality
Two things have come together to create a “buyer’s market” for business related software solutions. These include:
- The hardware and software that’s needed for creating these software solutions have become increasingly easy to use and affordable.
- The number of tech savvy and entrepreneurial minds who can use these things to their advantage has multiplied exponentially. So, while in the past it’d take a multi-million-dollar company a year to create a back-end inventory system, today it only takes the same company a few weeks to put one together.
Changing Consumer Base
Millennials are becoming the primary driving force behind business, the economy, and the world today. It won’t be long before they represent over half of the American workforce and not much longer before they’re at their peak affluence (having a lot of money to spend without having a lot of financial obligations). They’ll outnumber the Baby Boomers, be more willing to spend money, and want the near-instant gratification of “living in the moment.” They’re also the people who were raised on digital technology, which is why businesses are being forced to get tech-savvy soon.
You can’t afford to operate your business in a vacuum. Social networking’s rise has shrunk the world. Now geography is no longer an obstacle that impedes connections. This is also true of finances and social status. So, while you could skate by on “okay” customer service and product offerings in the past, today this will incur a hateful social media rant or a bad review on a rating site.
It’s been said, “what goes on the Internet stays on the Internet.” So, if you earn a bad reputation, it’ll stick with you. This is why you need to worry about their digital footprint (a.k.a. social identity). It’s also why so many businesses have community managers whose job is to watch for potential “bad press.”
The rise of technology does have its downsides with one of its biggest being a lack of downtime. Even vacations have become a thing of the past since we’re tempted to access our email and text messages or “work” on our laptop. So, while you may intend to get away from things for a bit, more than likely you’ll succumb to the temptation of “checking in” at least once.
Technology is a Wave: You Can Either Ride or Wipe Out
The rapid advance of technology won’t slow down any time soon. Those businesses who fail to adapt will find themselves left behind as those who manage to keep up reap the rewards. This doesn’t require you to rebuild your business from scratch, it just means you need to understand how technology affects your business and how to apply technological advancements to your advantage.