Payment methods. Blockchain. Artificial intelligence. Hyperautomation. Industry cloud platforms. With new business software or technology being introduced on an almost daily basis, sorting out which are the most relevant to your business isn’t always easy.
Here, we separate the signal from the noise in tech trends. This is an expert-compiled rundown of the most impactful developments in tech and software across the business space.
1. Real-time payments
For both businesses and consumers, real-time payment networks are revolutionizing transactions. Not only are they convenient, but with speedier settlement and greater visibility, their potential to enable original approaches to credit, fulfillment, and supply chain integration doesn’t just have significant potential in the business space. It also has the historical precedent to back it up.
The last major overhaul in affordable high-speed payment began in the 1970s with the introduction of automated clearinghouse (ACH) payments. Following its rollout, payment delays went from weeks to just one or two business days.
Now, both same-day ACH and real-time payments are available to financial institutions and their customers. The narrower the gap between sending and receiving funds becomes, the more visibility improves, and the more trust for parties on both ends increases—creating the perfect scenario for innovators to turn that rise in certainty into business efficiencies.
On the consumer side, COVID-19 helped quicken the already accelerating momentum of real-time payment methods. If you’re focused on shorter wait times between your financial transactions and having access to those funds, next-gen real-time payment methods are one business tech trend poised to give your business an edge.
2. Blockchain technology
Recent years have seen a lot of talk about Web 3.0 and its breakout star, cryptocurrency. But as this wide-open space continues to take shape, its more studious and dependable big brother, blockchain technology, is seeing increased press in recent months—and with good reason.Disclosure 1
Blockchain technology is the backbone of the proposed Web 3.0, the foundation on which the future groundbreaking apps and services that usher in the new phase of digital commerce are set to be built.Disclosure 2 Banking, asset transfers, smart contracts, supply chain monitoring—a host of services are either currently running on blockchain or are set to find their home there. When they hit their stride in this new cyber frontier, the runaway potential of each to disrupt the business landscape is substantial.
There are so many new and novel applications emerging that it’s virtually impossible to keep track of them all. Although many blockchain-related apps won’t gain widespread usage like those listed above—and some won’t gain traction at all—a few stand a chance of being so creative that they have a revolutionary impact on the business world. Be it novel apps that parse healthcare data or process and maintain custody of legal evidence, blockchain technology has the potential to do so much more than host cryptocurrency.
3. Artificial intelligence
Consumer data is a precious resource for you and your business—and positive, efficient consumer interactions are the lifeblood of every business. Recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are changing the way that companies are approaching both these crucial topics.
In addition to using AI to automate tedious tasks like transcription and to-do lists, an increasing number of companies are putting this technology to work parsing a treasure trove of consumer data that helps them make more informed business decisions.
They’re also leveraging AI technologies like chatbots to streamline certain aspects of customer service, as well as creating highly targeted sales and marketing campaigns that are fine-tuned to different subsets of their customer base. They’re even streamlining internal systems with AI to help reinforce employee-support functions in human resources departments.
AI and machine learning can be powerful tools that help deliver more customized services to each of your customers—freeing you to focus more on the core mission of your business while giving you a leg up over your competitors.
4. Remote work infrastructure
At this point, the prevalence of remote work makes it tempting to scratch this off the list of “trends”—but it’s still a phenomenon in its adolescence, and one that every employer should keep an eye on as it continues to develop.
Many new hires are happening well outside of commuter range, and with the overall popularity of remote work, employers would do well to have the infrastructure to oversee a remote workforce, or at the very least a hybrid one.Disclosure 3
Workers are insisting on a better work-life balance, which impacts workforce efficiency. Employee satisfaction is a crucial factor for both retention and attraction. In-demand job structures like remote work are a potential necessity in producing the levels of employee satisfaction that can lower turnover and raise productivity.Disclosure 4
Technologies like 5G, centralized HR software, and a robust fraud protection system are a few more considerations if you set up a remote infrastructure. Each is an important, but sometimes overlooked, factor in keeping your business running optimally as the size and scope of the modern job space evolves.
5. Mobile connectivity
It might be hard to imagine running your business without being able to check email from your phone.
But to help remain competitive, it will be crucial for all-important workflow processes and computing—not just checking email—to be accessible online, especially with workforces trending toward remote work.
Luckily, it’s getting easier to design and use mobile apps with complex business processes, because databases and high-end business applications are more open than ever. Enterprise application programming interfaces (APIs) are significantly more powerful (and more readily available) today than they were even a few years ago—and the tools to stitch together complex workflows across multiple systems are currently moving down-market.
That’s great news for all business owners—particularly those running small businesses. As coding gets cheaper and simpler, smaller companies will be able to use some of these apps to better compete with their larger competitors. These sorts of mobile-native apps are simplifying life for enterprise decision-makers and smaller business owners alike.
Keeping your ears open
The pace of innovation in the business tech sphere can be dizzying, and knowing what’s here to stay and what’s just “one more decibel of noise” can be tricky. But staying alert to this handful of current technology trends will put you in a position to understand some of the most fundamental business tech trends on which all subsequent developments will be built—leaving you in a position to optimize your business for yourself, your employees, and your consumers.