There is but one constant in technology, Change

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The development of new technology never stops. Considering the billions of dollars being invested it’s easy to understand the media frenzy that surrounds emerging technologies. From Artificial Intelligence(AI) to the Internet of Things(IoT) there is constant chatter about the next disruptor in business. As small business should we be taking note?

Let’s take a look at five technologies, what they are and what they are not, and how they may impact on small business.

Artificial Intelligence

For some when they hear the word Artificial Intelligence they imagine the end of human existence and a world ruled by robots. Fortunately, the abilities of machine learning are far from that scenario. That said, you are more than likely interacting with some form of AI on a daily basis. ArtificiaI Narrow Intelligence(ANI) is used in speech and facial recognition, data processing, customer service among a daily emergence of other things. Using a variety of algorithms and pattern recognition its rapid growth can be attributed to one thing, convenience.

 Because of this convenience, ANI is finding its way into software at all levels meaning it should be in the forefront of our minds when either purchasing or upgrading software. Businesses should probably not be buying new software just to get into Business Intelligence but knowing how the software you currently use can add productivity, save time and streamline your processes should be a priority since it is already here.

Voice Search Optimization

Although a subset of AI I think Voice Search Optimization deserves its own space. Technology is changing consumer behavior especially when we look at digital assistants. Whether it be Siri or Alexa on our cells phones or echo, more and more people are searching by voice. If you have a web site for your business then you are probably familiar with Search Engine Optimization(SEO). SEO is the process of making your site available to search engines via META tags, images, and content so that those doing internet searches can easily find you. However, searches using text are much more concise than those done by voice.

Because we tend to use longer, more conversational phrases when doing a voice search, optimizing for a voice search is a completely different animal. Being a tourist area I would imagine more people are doing voice searches than sitting on their computers typing in a search. There are a plethora of how to optimize for voice search on the internet. Just do a voice search on your phone.

Blockchain Technology

Generally lumped in with BitCoin and digital currency, Blockchain is by far the most confusing and misunderstood emerging technology. Blockchain is the underlying technology behind the digital currency growth but has use cases beyond BitCoin itself. At its most simple level BlockChain technology is an immutable public ledger. All computers on a blockchain network carry a copy of the ledger. To insert into the ledger a computer must first solve a complex problem, followed by the other computers voting to ensure that the solution is correct. Once information is inserted it cannot be changed or overwritten. This decentralized storing of data creates a secure environment when compared to a central data store by not having one central location that data can be changed.

Although heavy investment by enterprise size business especially when it comes to the use of BlockChain in the supply chain there is a lot of hype as to the disruption of centralized Banking, real estate transactions. Despite the hype, small business should keep a close eye on blockchain as it may change how we store our most valuable digital assets, manage our supply chains and authenticate ourselves.

Augmented / Virtual Reality

Since 2016 and the eruption of Pokemon Go there has been a lot of hype on the emergence of Augmented and Virtual Reality. Augmented Reality allows users to place digital 3D objects (text, video, animation) in the real world. Virtual Reality is more immersive taking the user into a digital Virtual World. From trying on products(makeup, shoes, clothing) to placing products in your home(tables, chairs, couches) a variety of use cases abound including millions of dollars invested into tech companies exploring the space.

Although mass adoption has been slow, more AR-enabled smartphones and WebAR, where no application is needed are beginning to quickly change how consumers interact with digital assets and the physical world. As more enterprise companies like Ikea, Hard Rock Cafe, Starbucks begin to roll out more and more AR experiences consumers will begin to expect it to be the new normal. Virtual Reality is already budding into use spaces like digital nitrous for dentistry to relaxing children in chemotherapy. The use cases are endless.

The Internet of Things(IoT)

The Internet of Things refers to internet-enabled products that allow users the ability to tailor their experiences with a product. From refrigerators that can send a picture to a phone of what’s inside to doorbell cameras that show us who is at the door on our phone more devices are being internet-enabled every day.

Turning on and off lights with a voice command and turning down the thermostat from our phone a distance away provides convenience and it is that convenience that continues to push the limits of what can be connected and tailored. Because these devices also gather data they will make sense for a small business where information can help improve productivity and the bottom line.

These emerging technologies are only the tip of the iceberg not to mention those just off the horizon. Hopefully with a little understanding of what they are, a little planning on where they can be useful we can all overcome the challenging waters ahead.

Frank Moody ,IslandARVR (435-659-0438)