The best way to predict the future is to create it.
Or so the popular idiom goes.
Nowhere does this quote seem to be the most applicable than the technology industry. Since the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1990, the world as we know it has gone through multiple evolutions thanks to new discoveries and inventions in technology.
It seems we’re on the edge of yet another technological evolution, especially as the lines between home and work continue to blur. For small business owners, there are quite a few tech innovations to be aware of in 2018, like portable projectors that can turn any surface into a touchscreen, or new ways to connect with social media followers. We’ve collected a few of the best for your consideration.
Listed by PCMag as one of the top 10 tech products for small businesses at CES 2018, Talygen is a comprehensive project management software. In it, users can track time, invoices, and expenses, manage events, access a job portal module to organize and increase human resources’ capabilities, chat with other organization members, and more. It’s also a helpful way to let clients track the progress and performance of projects at their own convenience.
Ever wanted to pull a report or slide deck up on mobile to show someone without them having to squint at a tiny smartphone screen? Ever needed a projector for a presentation but didn’t want to lug the equipment around with you? Touchjet is there for you.
Touchjet’s compact, portable projector, called “Pond,” projects your phone screen—touch and gesture capabilities and all—onto any flat surface. You can even draw and write on the projection. The company also makes a product called “Wave,” which mounts to your flat screen TV touchscreen turn it into a touchscreen tablet when connected to your phone.
Voice BridgeIf you use a landline because you’ve always had one (or you prefer the sound quality to a mobile phone), yet you want to make sure you can still receive calls to your office while you’re out, consider using a product like Voice Bridge by Invoxia.
Voice Bridge is a small box that acts as a bridge between your landline and your smartphone. When calls come in to your landline, Voice Bridge rolls the calls over to your Android or iOS devices. Users can register up to five devices, and can even make third-party calls.
3D printers have been around for a few years now and are fairly accessible to the general public, so it may seem that the novelty of this innovation has worn off. However, at CES 18, a couple 3D printing products made headlines.
XYZPrinting presented its Da Vinci Color AIO, a high-quality 3D printer and scanner marketed toward small and medium-sized businesses. Not only does the printer create exceptional and colorful 3D prints using inkjet technology, it also features voice recognition for commands like “calibrate” and “print.”
The other notable 3D printer is a solution from Desktop Metal. The printer is the first of its kind to print in metal. Most 3D printing has been done with plastic, so this particular product is definitely making some waves in the design world. It was even listed by Digital Trends as a Top Tech of CES 2018 winner for Emerging Tech.
Tech trends to be on the lookout for
According to ZDNet, businesses should start preparing themselves for 5G networks.
5G (shorthand for fifth-generation mobile networks) is the next proposed telecommunications standard after 4G LTE (the most common standard today). 5G is expected to be up to 10 times faster than 4G LTE, which some believe will allow for greater creativity and innovation. It will also allow for better device-to-device communication (particularly with IoT-connected devices) with shorter delays and improved battery life.
When a businesses’ smart devices are able to communicate quickly and efficiently, it could encourage greater collaborative efforts between coworkers, which could result in richer customer experiences.
Virtual reality (VR) has been in the public sphere for a few years now, mostly for gaming. However, the technology has matured quite a bit over that time, allowing the introduction of VR technology into small businesses to become a more a reality than ever.
Many designers and engineers are finding VR to be helpful for building virtual models, rather than spending resources assembling physical models. Some real estate businesses are using VR technology for virtual, 3D walkthroughs, or to help potential buyers imagine what spaces would look like with their unique flair.
Finally, VR is also expected to change the way we think about social media. Since Facebook purchased VR technology company Occulus in 2014, the social media company has been testing ways to encourage the use of VR in social media interactions. This means small businesses should anticipate the way their customers interact with them on social media to change. Some believe that soon, businesses won’t have pages on social media platforms, but rather a social media “space” where customers can visit to explore a range of interactive opportunities designed to educate them about your company.
For small business owners looking to improve their productivity, this type of technology might be a good investment. Voice assistants make it easier than ever to make calculations, track packages, order office supplies, and even book travel reservations. But incorporating voice assistants into business operations isn’t the only consideration small business owners should take.
According to Gartner, 20 percent of web browsing will be done without a screen thanks to audio-centric technologies. This is a clear sign that the way people search the internet is increasingly changing, and businesses need to adapt their SEO efforts accordingly. Search Engine Land perfectly outlines how to optimize your business for voice search in this article.
Technologically speaking, it’s never been a better time to be a small business owner. As these technologies continue to improve and evolve, small businesses will be expected to adapt along with the tech. Think about it: ten years ago, smartphones were new tech, and small businesses ran just fine without them. Today, it’s almost impossible to get by without a smartphone. With all the convenience and opportunity new tech brings, so comes the necessity to keep up.