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Current trends in IT that every small business owner should know

By Frontline, LLC

Technology can have such a transformative impact on the way business is done. In fact, it enables new players to challenge big corporations. For instance, Amazon, once a humble online bookseller, is now able to throw its weight against the brick-and-mortar retail behemoth Walmart, forcing the latter to rethink its eCommerce strategy. 

As a small business owner, you must keep an eye out for technologies that can give you a competitive advantage to even out the playing field. Here are four IT trends you should look out for.  

 

#1. Data analytics

Today’s digital world produces an enormous amount of data. Every operational task and customer interaction generates data. Companies are now mining this data to help them make informed decisions and uncover comprehensive insights that can transform their business. 

For example, Netflix collects a lot of behavioral data of their viewers such as:

  • What device is used for watching?
  • When was a program paused? 
  • Do portions of programs get rewatched?
  • Does the nature of the shows watched vary depending on the device? 

Using all of this data, Netflix is able to generate personalized TV show and movie recommendations for every viewer to improve user experience. “There are 33 million versions of Netflix,” adds Joris Evers, former Netflix VP head for communications. Its analytics software and recommendation engine are at the heart of what makes Netflix effective, so much so that more people are canceling their cable or satellite TV services in favor of Netflix. 

The rising importance of data analytics has led to the cloud-based service, insights as a service (IaaS), which provides businesses with actionable insights based on their own data and data from a variety of sources. 

Analytics tools are expected to get even smarter to facilitate more effective strategies for (other) business processes such as hiring.

 

#2. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)

AI and ML have multiple applications, such as Amazon’s recommendation system to get you to buy more products, Google’s responsive search ads to test different versions of your search ads, and Citibank’s financial security system to spot fraudulent transactions and errors in payments. 

“While artificial intelligence may sound like something that only enterprise companies use, in 2019 we’ll see it make big inroads into small businesses. AI will help small businesses offer more personalized experiences to their customers by maximizing their time and automating manual tasks,” said Meredith Schmidt, executive vice president and general manager of small business essentials at Salesforce. Some small businesses are already using AI/ML to build conversational chatbots to answer frequently asked questions. 

As investments continue to pour into these technologies, AI/ML is expected to have a greater impact on our lives. Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be handled without a human and that 30% of companies worldwide will be using AI in at least one of their sales processes.  

 

#3. Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT is on the rise and the number of IoT devices worldwide is expected to reach more than 64 billion by 2025

There seems to be limitless possibilities for IoT. Consumers are using smart watches to monitor their vital signs and activity levels. They are also using voice-activated assistants like Alexa to serve as their virtual assistant and control their smart home devices.   

IoT technologies also have business applications. For example, manufacturing companies are using IoT as sensors to monitor boilers and radiators. Some farms employ IoT sensors to improve yield and cut water use. Smart tags and sensors allow shipping companies to track the transport and delivery of packages. 

The IoT industry will continue to improve the way we work by automating certain tasks and making more efficient use of our resources. 

 

#4. Cybersecurity

Cybercrime is continuing to be a huge concern for businesses of all sizes, with an increasing number of attacks targeting small businesses. This is alarming, especially since 60% of small companies go out of business within six months of a cyberattack

Aside from growing in number, cybercrimes are also getting more sophisticated. Hackers are now using advanced and scalable tools to breach user privacy. They are using AI and machine learning to optimize cybersecurity evasion methods, create highly convincing content that can pass typical cybersecurity filters, automate the collection/scraping of private data, and many more. 

In order to protect company data, more small businesses will be compelled to adopt cybersecurity measures. Cybersecurity tools will start using AI to reinforce their systems, such as Symantec’s Targeted Attack Analytics (TTA) tool and Sophos’s Intercept X software. With AI-enhanced cybersecurity measures, risks can be identified faster and more effectively. 

Given its growing importance, the global cybersecurity market is forecasted to rise from its current market value of more than $120 billion to over $300 billion by 2024.

 

Some IT trends don’t last long, so it’s important to identify which ones will most likely have a long-term impact. Let Frontline in Los Angeles guide you on which IT you should invest in so you can achieve your business goals. Contact us now to get started. 

Tags: artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, internet of things, iot, data analytics, small business, IT Services, IT Solutions, IT Strategy, A.I., IT trends

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