There’s no escaping the fact that technology has forever-intertwined its wires and circuitry with the very infrastructure of modern human culture. Almost three out of every four people in the United States owns a smartphone (figures published by Pew in 2015 which have probably risen since), the Internet of Things (IoT) is spawning “smart” everything nowadays from cars to homes, and digital natives are now reared without ever having known an “analogue” world. Digital is the new norm, and for good reason–the benefits of modern technology are astronomical.
The truth is, digital solutions are not even optional anymore–not if you want to be competitive, keep happy employees, and simply survive today’s age. Here are five digital solutions every modern business requires.
1. Cloud-Connected Infrastructure
The biggest technological boon that’s come from the digital age is, by far, “connectivity”. There is literally almost no business that isn’t an “internet business” anymore, because all of our devices connect to it and to each other through–I mean, can you imagine a modern business without an email address? The internet set the stage individual sub-networks to be developed, and all of these networks together have come to be called “the cloud”… if you did any business reading in 2015 you have definitely heard of it; cloud market vendors did $75.3 billion worldwide that year, and were projected to do $105.2 billion the next year in 2016.
The cloud revolutionized and even democratized the way SMBs could access corporate services. While you may not necessarily need a corporate server or a data center for just yourself, you still need ways to get connected to those who can provide you with storage and analytics–and that’s what the cloud provides. Filemaker Cloud is a good example of a virtual digital server solution that scales with small or large businesses, but that cannot be fully utilized unless the business has a cloud-connected infrastructure. Many of the digital solutions created nowadays, including ones further down the list, are actually cloud solutions.
2. Unified Communications
Unified Communications (UC) refers to the integration of real-time enterprise communications services, which run the gamut from chat messaging, VOIP, and web/video conferencing services. Modern businesses need to consider investing in these applications for multiple reasons, the first being that communication and organization are absolutely essential to running a successful business. UC ensures that no business has an excuse when it comes to communications gaps nowadays.
UC also makes possible the prospect of remote work and improved employee happiness. GlobalWorkPlaceAnalytics.com has published some interesting findings concerning telecommuting as it becomes the new norm. According to them, regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 103 percent since 2005. On top of that, 50 percent of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20-25 percent of the workforce teleworks at some frequency. 80 to 90 percent of the workforce says they would to telework at least part time.
3. Multi-Channel Marketing
The internet and its cloud components aren’t just how modern business employees communicate with each other nowadays–it’s how just about everybody does. From social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, to online advertorials and blog articles, the modern business must have digital marketing on their minds at all times. When the cultural expectation is that the majority of private individuals can be found online (and that it may indeed be “suspicious” if you don’t), it follows that businesses should visible online as well. This doesn’t mean only online, and by no means does it refer to one-way communication either.
You need to reach your target market on all fronts, internet, social media and IRL (in real life) included. On top of that, because of the way social media and websites like Yelp! make it easy to leave very visible user feedback, the customer now has an amplified voice, and the marketing processes is more of a conversation. Be careful what you say, but don’t make the mistake of being silent and neglecting to engage at all.
4. Digital Finance Applications
The age of digital finance is upon us. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are presenting new, decentralized, and entirely digital payment options for individuals and entities alike, and financial institutions are moving more and more toward the cloud and secure, online transactions. Among new methods of payment, chip cards, mobile wallets, and digital invoices are replacing wired credit transactions and paper payments.
Businesses in the modern age are going to want to remain as flexible and agile as possible, and accepting alternative forms of currency and new forms of digital payment is part of that initiative. Harnessing this new power, however, requires a heightened sense of responsibility. Anybody that accepts electronic payments must make sure they are in line with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance regulations to protect their customers’ sensitive data.
5. Cyber Security
In the same vein as PCI DSS compliance is adequate cyber security. It’s predicted that cybercrime will be costing the world in excess of $6 trillion annually by 2021, and small businesses need to be just as concerned as large businesses when it comes to securing sensitive data. Advances in cryptolocker RansomWare mean that it’s just as easy to hold an individual laptop hostage for $300 as it is to hold an entire college’s data network for $28,000, and 43 percent of cyber attacks in 2015 targeted small business, trending up from just 18 percent in 2011.
The cyber threat is particularly worrisome as adoption of the IoT becomes even more widespread, with poor security protocol chiefly to blame for the Dyn cyberattack of 2016 that left half of the U.S. without Internet for about a day. Even though the IoT is wildly insecure, the public seems intent on adopting it anyway, meaning that you need to protect you and yours to the utmost.
Without these five digital solutions, businesses are looking at having a hard time competing in the modern day marketplace–and really finding their way in modern society. The times are changing quickly, meaning that organizations will have to be flexible and adaptable if they wish to remain successful.