Summary: Technology is evolving faster than ever, and plays an increasingly important role in the business world. Is your company keeping up? In the second part of this two-part article, we explore 5 technologies and/or processes that are absolutely essential in 2018. If your business doesn’t have these technologies in place already, you could be falling behind. Read the whole article to learn more.
If you follow the tech news at all, you hear a lot about new trends. The blockchain is all over the news. The buzz surrounding Artificial Intelligence is exploding. IoT is (literally) everywhere.
One thing we don’t hear a lot about: Old trends. We don’t hear much about the tech trends from a few years back that have now become necessities for the modern business. Everyone is so focused on the latest and greatest, we ignore the current essential technologies.
So, that’s what I’m focusing on in this two-part article: The technologies businesses should be using in 2018 if they hope to remain competitive. In the first part of this article, we explored these 5 technologies:
- SSL Certificates
- Mobile-friendly websites and web applications
- Tools to automate manual processes
- CRM Software
Today, let’s take things a step further and explore 5 more technologies you should be using in 2018. If you’re not using these technologies in 2018, your business is probably falling behind.
1. Web-based applications
The rise of cloud computing and mobility opens up opportunities for businesses of all sizes. In a digital world, businesses aren’t limited by physical location as they were in the past. Employees can access the data and applications they need from any location.
The problem is, many businesses are unprepared for today’s digital world. They’re still running systems and applications that aren’t web-based. Employees can only get things done when they’re physically in the office.
While this approach worked in the past, it puts your business at a disadvantage. Productivity suffers. Your business moves slower than it should. In a digital world (where speed is king), this is one sign you might be falling behind.
“If you have white-collar employees, and they are not able to get work done when they are not in the office, then this is a sign that your business is falling behind from a technical standpoint,” says Co-Founder David Waring, FitSmallBusiness.com. “The first thing you will likely need to do is upgrade any software that is not cloud-based, so that your employees can access the needed software wherever they have an internet connection.”
2. Collaboration Tools
Let’s take the last point one step further. As the world becomes more and more connected, we see two things happening.
First, as mentioned above, the need to physically work in one specific location declines.
Second, the need for instant communication increases. The problem is, standard email communication just isn’t fast enough. In a world where speed and agility have become a necessity, you can’t always wait until someone reads and responds to your email.
As a result, collaboration tools are quickly becoming essential. These tools let employees communicate instantly with each other, regardless of location. As explained below, the instant communication provided by collaboration tools is becoming a must-have for the modern business.
“Collaboration tools are the foundation for teamwork,” says Michelle Kubot MBA, Marketing Director at Ambrosia Treatment Centers. “A company can’t function without the ability to communicate information quickly and easily. You may think that’s the job of email, but email is 23 years old. There are much better technologies. The most trendy brand in the space is Slack. It works with the efficiency generations that grew up with computers expect – including chat, hashtags and constant access through a mobile app. Microsoft offers a very similar tool called Teams. In fact, a business that uses Office 365 likely has access to this tool already for free. If you’re not streamlining your workflows by integrating collaboration tools, you’re falling behind.”
3. Basic Security Measures
Security breaches are increasing, and it’s only set to get worse. How bad is it? This article states that more data records were leaked or stolen during the first half of 2017 than all of 2016.
Yet, some businesses still don’t have basic security measures on their web applications. I’m not talking about employing security specialists who will make your security airtight (though that would be nice). I’m talking about the basic steps.
For instance, implementing security measures like 2-factor authentication are both easy and effective. Yet, many businesses haven’t done this.
What is 2-factor authentication? Two-factor authentication adds a second level of security to an account log-in. Rather than identifying users with a single factor (user name/password), it adds a second identification factor to the login process–usually a pin number delivered via sms to the user’s mobile device.
“Security is becoming more and more important to businesses that want to protect their intellectual property, customer information, and business data,” says Taylor Toce, CEO, Velo IT Group. “Further, a lack of security, even in business without regulated data such as HIPPA, SOX, etc will lead to unnecessary business interruptions over the long term. Simple, cost effective technologies such as two-factor authentication (2FA) can prevent attackers from using common attack methods such as password breaches and brute force attacks to gain access to your business technology systems. Two-factor authentication allows business technology users to enter a password and then a code from their mobile device in order to gain access to critical business systems. This is an end-user friendly, and very cost-effective way to protect your data in 2018.”
Of course, 2FA is just one basic security measure, but there others you should have in place. For more information, check out this article entitled, “Solving the Top 10 Application Security Threats.”
4. Data integration tools
Let me ask you a question: How does data move throughout your system? Is it manually entered into various systems, or is it automated?
Unfortunately, too many businesses still rely on manual data entry and re-entry. Employees spend precious time entering data into their system. Oftentimes, they must enter the same data into multiple systems.
Why is this so bad? This practice not only wastes time, it creates data errors. The average benchmark for data entry error rate is generally acknowledged to be 1%. If your employees are manually entering a lot of data, it’s scary to consider how many errors that creates.
The fact is, modern businesses need data integration tools in place to move efficiently and avoid data errors. Now, I’m not saying every business needs top-of-the-line integration tools. Your needs really depend on your business. But, if you’re still manually entering data across different systems, you need tools to automate the process.
“If your business still uses data entry as a way of moving data from one place to another, you’re sadly far behind the times,” says Jessica Thiele, Marketing Manager at Virtual Logistics, Inc. “Data integration — the method by which you can automate the movement of your business’ data between potentially all sources, from supply chain to end customer — comes in many forms that suit almost all businesses. From low-end plug-and-play connectors that are simply install and run, to point-to-multipoint integrations that allow for real-time data movement with your business’ specific rules applied directly to the data transformation from portal to portal, there really isn’t any excuse for manual data entry in 2018.”
5. Self-service development/reporting tools
The modern IT department is under more pressure than ever before. They must move quickly. They must shift from a back-office role into a technology driver. They must become a true business partner.
The problem: Most IT departments are already overworked and understaffed. They’d love to move quickly, but they’re constantly putting out fires. They’d love to become a technology driver, but maintaining existing technology and supporting the business keeps them busy already.
How can IT departments accomplish more, despite these challenges? Self-service development platforms.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a growing push for these self-service tools. They let end users create basic reports and applications without coding–removing the burden from the IT department. Because IT doesn’t have to handle basic reporting and development requests, they have more time for mission-critical tasks.
As explained in ZDnet’s article, “Low code development is coming: Welcome to the future,” this approach is quickly becoming commonplace. As development demands increase, self-service platforms cannot be ignored in the coming years.
In this two-part article, we’ve explored 10 technologies that you should be using in 2018. Would you add anything to this list? I’ve love to hear it. Feel free to comment below!