John Powers, Negosentro | The world of business has changed in ways few would have imagined, just decades ago. Not since the Industrial Revolution has technology made such an impact with no signs of slowing down. What makes this era different is that these advances haven’t limited themselves to the manufacturing sector. Virtually every aspect of business has changed so fast that both companies and consumers have often struggled to keep up. Here are some examples of the impact digital technology has had on the business world.
The most obvious change in the way business is done comes down to connectivity. Due to the development of the Internet, people around the world are just a click or two away from one another. Customers have multiple ways to connect with businesses now, as opposed to relying on letters and phone calls. Coworkers and employees can be reached via email, text, chat or social media, making them more available than ever before. Businesses can provide real-time information to interested consumers that can even be tailored to their individual needs.
Not long after the Internet came advances in mobile communication. While cell phone technology initially took some time to catch on, it has now reached a point where everyone has a phone in their pocket. Employees can make deliveries and run errands without being out of touch. Tablets with the proper software can handle business transactions from virtually anywhere, instead of relying on a distant computer. Consumers can use their own mobile devices to locate businesses, shop, compare prices, and share their shopping experiences with others on social media. These capabilities have changed marketing forever.
Cloud computing has taken digital storage to an entirely new level. Where data was once stored in-house, the cloud has made it possible to store large amounts of it on third-party servers that can be accessed online. This helps lessen the impact of crashes that can lead to permanent losses of valuable data. Cloud storage is also more cost-effective than purchasing expensive computer equipment that requires specialized maintenance.
Cost and Functionality
Modern software solutions have increasingly helped tilt business transactions in the favor of consumers. The increased availability of technology to the masses has helped make this possible, by putting the right software into everyone’s hands. In addition, an increasing number of tech savvy entrepreneurs have figured out how to exploit existing technology to come up with even better ways of doing things. An endpoint protection platform is an example of a software solution that combines malware protection and a personal firewall with protection from intrusion and data loss. Where large companies once required hefty budgets to come up with their own software solutions, they’re now available at more affordable rates and with expanded capabilities.
Another noticeable effect of technology on business is the decreasing amount of available downtime for both employees and employers. In the past, people were able to take days off and go on vacations without being bothered by work-related matters. In today’s world, people are so easy to reach that they’re rarely able to completely get away. Even an individual that’s not being sought out can scarcely resist the urge to “check in” on occasion.
An Evolving Consumer Base
Because of the early exposure young people get to these technologies, they’re quickly becoming the biggest driving force in the world’s economy. Kids everywhere have smartphones and are just as likely to use them to purchase items they’re interested in, such as video games, movie tickets, and apps for their phones. Millennials grew up at a time when these technologies were in their infancy, so they have quickly become accustomed to instant gratification. In many ways, it has been their demands that have fueled the latest advances in digital technology.
The combination of all these advances has helped create another phenomenon that few would have predicted. The Internet gave birth to social networking, which has not only connected the entire world, but also allowed people everywhere to take a more personal look at one another. In years past, businesses routinely got away with substandard customer service. Today, they can easily find themselves at the wrong end of a bad review or a hateful social media rant. This can have disastrous effects on a company’s reputation, since it can spread around the world in a matter of seconds. Businesses are now left to scour the web in search of anything that might hurt their bottom line, in an effort to counter it.
While most of these technologies have had a positive effect on business, there are always downsides. Regardless of where you might stand on their impact, they’re part of a new revolution in the way business is conducted and there’s plenty more to come. The best approach for new businesses is to learn as much as possible about how technology affects them and how it can be applied for a competitive advantage.