Four technologies every entrepreneur should know about

2017-11-07
THE PUNCH Newspaper

If you consider yourself an entrepreneur, then you will know how crucial technology can be in making your business a success.

According to www.appcessories.co.uk, anything from social media to artificial intelligence, counts as technology that could have a potential impact on you and your business. So what are the eight emerging technology trends that are having or about to have a profound impact on you as an entrepreneur?

Augmented reality

Ok, so let us just make sure that you understand, augmented reality and virtual reality are two separate things, but both are fast becoming popular methods of engaging with customers, and for customers to engage with the business. The main difference between virtual reality and augmented reality is that VR is a full immersive experience, meaning you are thrust into an imaginary setting and AR is about placing animated objects into a real life situation.

To give an example, Ikea has used augmented reality to show its customers what one of its couches could look like in their living room without it even being there. Car engine manufacturers have been able to show their customers what the engine looks like, how it works and actually walk around it to examine all the different components, before the physical engine is actually there.

Artificial intelligence

If you don’t know what artificial intelligence is, perhaps you have been living under a rock for the past 15 years. To make it short and sweet, AI is something like Google assistant and Siri, however, artificial intelligence goes way beyond the realms of smartphones. It will affect everything from medicine to the stock market, and this is just the beginning.

Whether we realise it or not, AI has the potential to replace surgeons in the healthcare industry, factory workers in engineering and office staff in administration. Humans require a lot more effort and attention than AI does. We have emotions, need time off work, sick days, holidays, demand pay rises, have potential issues with other members of staff and generally complain about working conditions, even when they are perfectly fine. You cannot please everyone.

Machines and robots do not have any physiological needs. They will not need time off, they will never argue with other employees and they will definitely not require a cake on their birthday. In the long run, AI in the workplace would be financially and socially sustainable. However, there is no need to worry about robots replacing humans in the workplace just yet. As much as we support technology, I don’t think people would appreciate communicating to a robot rather than a person at a reception desk.

We have seen some advancements in the field however, with self serve checkouts in supermarkets and automated machines replacing bank employees. So it is obvious that there is going to be an element of AI in every workplace at some point in the future. Oxford University investigated AI and found that up to 35 per cent of UK jobs could become obsolete due to AI in the next 20 years.

3D printing

3D printing is an emerging technology that has endless possibilities that are only limited by our own creativity. In terms of predictions, 3D printing is said to be able to alter industries such as medicine and construction in more ways than one. But, what about in marketing? Could 3D printing be a way for businesses to reach customers? This is of course assuming that 3D printing becomes that widespread and available so that consumers will have their own printers.

Things like accessories to go with your products would be a fantastic marketing tool. Consumers would be able to print these off and have a physical reminder of your brand. Nowadays with online marketing, everything goes past in a flash and you forget what brand or product you have just seen five seconds ago. 3D printing could help give your business an advantage over the brands only operating online, with no physical marketing material.

3D printing could make it possible to cut out the middle man. Companies could sell their designs through an online purchasing system and the customer could then print off the products. All a company would need is an online presence that consists of a homepage website and social media channels. It gives small businesses the advantage of being able to tweak and re-develop prototypes of products.

Virtual reality

How could I do an article on future technologies and not talk about VR? Virtual reality is so easily affordable now, so that is great news for smaller businesses that could really benefit from the technology. It offers a huge range of possibilities for businesses of all sizes including, product visualisation, virtual tours, training employees on health and safety procedures and improving the well-being of staff/customers, to name just a few.

How can you use VR in your business?

Virtual reality can help train employees. Sales based roles can be a particularly demanding environment for anyone, even if they have that natural flare for sales. VR can help simulate role-play situations to help improve sales skills and put employees in certain situations virtually, before they are faced with them in real life. For smaller companies with less of a budget for VR, simple 360 degree images and video can be effective for engaging your audience.

So although there are only four that have been mentioned here, there are a lot more emerging technologies out there that could affect your life as an entrepreneur, but these are the main ones you should focus on incorporating if you have your own business.

 

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