Payment methods. Blockchain. Artificial intelligence. You may feel like new business software or technology is being introduced almost daily. We’ll dissect a few of the most important and relevant developments to help you keep track of the latest tech updates for your business.
1. Real-time payments are creating new opportunities.
Real-time payment networks are revolutionizing transactions for both businesses and consumers. Completing transactions faster isn’t just convenient. With speedier settlement and greater visibility, new approaches to credit, fulfillment, and supply chain integration are possible.
The last major overhaul in affordable high-speed payment began in the 1970s with the introduction of automated clearinghouse (ACH) payments. These cut payment delays 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. Reducing the gap between sending and receiving funds improves visibility and trust for all parties—and innovators will find ways to turn that increased certainty into business efficiencies.
On the consumer side, COVID-19 helped quicken the momentum of real-time payment methods. Nearly one-quarter of people said they use a peer-to-peer financial tool to send or receive payments more often than they did before the pandemic.1 If you’re focused on shorter wait times between your financial transactions and having access to those funds, it’s worth evaluating real-time payment methods for your business.
2. Blockchain is now more interesting than cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrency is having a moment. The cryptocurrency market reached an all-time high in February 2021, and investors are showing a renewed interest in blockchain, the technology that forms the foundation for Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other alt-currencies.2 Countries like the Bahamas and Cambodia launched some of the first national-level blockchain-based systems, and U.S. legislators and regulators are starting to pay more attention to this technology as well.2
There are so many new and novel applications cropping up that it’s virtually impossible to keep track of them all. Although many blockchain-related apps won’t gain widespread usage, some of them may lead us toward more innovative ways to store and parse healthcare data, process and maintain custody of legal evidence, and track inventory from raw materials to final, finished delivery and purchase.
3. AI is becoming essential.
Consumer data is a precious resource for you and your business. You may consider trying to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to parse through your treasure trove of data. This information can help you make better business decisions. AI may also help you automate tedious tasks like transcription, to-do lists, and more.
AI can be a powerful tool that can help deliver more customized services to each of your customers, which may give you that extra edge over your competitors you need.
4. Managing a remote workforce may become the norm.
For many, the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it a new way of working. Instead of going into a central office every day, many people joined their morning meetings via video chat from their kitchen tables or bedroom-corner desks. This trend may continue, as 55% of employees say that would prefer to work remotely at least three days per week on a long-term basis.3
A potential shift to remote work—or a hybrid model of working part of the week in the office and part of the week at home—means it will be essential to have the infrastructure to oversee a remote workforce.
Technologies like 5G, centralized HR software, and a robust fraud protection system are a few examples of what may be important to keep your business running optimally as your workforce evolves.
5. Businesses need to remain mobile.
It might be hard to imagine running your business without being able to check email from your phone, anytime and anywhere. And it’s practically impossible to imagine being productive without the simple tap-and-swipe control over multiple inboxes.
But to help remain competitive, it will be crucial for all-important workflow processes—not just checking email—to be accessible online, especially as workforces trend 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 moving down-market as well.
That’s great news for all business owners, but especially those leading small businesses. As coding gets cheaper and simpler, smaller companies will be able to utilize some of these apps that were previously only accessible to larger companies.
Such mobile-native apps are making life easier for enterprise decision-makers and smaller business owners alike. Now is a great time to make a habit of staying on top of the latest technology trends so you optimize your business for yourself, your employees, and your consumers.