Digital solutions are influenced by culture
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 own a smartphone. (Figures published by Pew some years ago which have probably risen since). The Internet of Things (IoT) is spawning “smart” everything nowadays from cars to homes. 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. This means every modern business requires good digital solutions.
The truth is, that digital solutions are not even optional anymore. Not if you want to be competitive, keep happy employees, and simply survive today’s age.
Effective IT management is crucial for businesses of all sizes, especially in today’s digital landscape where cloud solutions have become the norm. One key aspect of IT management in this cloud-centric world is ensuring that your cloud-connected infrastructure operates seamlessly. This involves maintaining the performance and security of your digital assets. Server monitoring is a fundamental component of this process, and solutions like server monitoring by Dataknox can play a vital role. It is essential to maximize the benefits of cloud services like Filemaker Cloud and ensure the smooth operation of your cloud-connected infrastructure.
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 almost no business that isn’t an “internet business” anymore. All of our devices connect to it and each other. I mean, can you imagine modern business without an email address? The internet set the stage for individual sub-networks to be developed. All of these networks together have come to be called “the cloud”. If you did any business reading in 2015 you have 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 centre 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. However, it 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 cloud solutions.
2. Unified Communications
Unified Communications (UC) refers to the integration of real-time enterprise communications services. These 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 is that communication and organization are essential to running a successful business. UC ensures that no business has an excuse when it comes to communication gaps nowadays.
UC also makes possible the prospect of remote work and improves employee happiness. Global Workplace 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 per cent since 2005. On top of that, 50 per cent of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20-25 per cent of the workforce teleworks at some frequency. 80 to 90 per cent of the workforce says they would 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, modern businesses 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 be 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 process 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. 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. 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 who 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 cybersecurity. It’s predicted that cybercrime will be costing the world over $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 crypto locker 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 per cent of cyber attacks in 2015 targeted small businesses, trending up from just 18 per cent in 2011.
The cyber threat is particularly worrisome as the 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 yourself and yours to the utmost.
6. Big Data Analytics
Big data analytics allows businesses to analyze vast amounts of data to uncover hidden patterns, market trends, customer preferences, and other useful business information. Tools like Hadoop, Spark, and data visualization platforms like Tableau and Power BI enable businesses to process and interpret complex data sets. This leads to better decision-making, improved customer experiences, and increased operational efficiency. In the future, big data analytics will likely become even more integrated with AI for more advanced predictive analytics.
7. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems
CRM systems are crucial for managing customer interactions, supporting sales management, delivering actionable insights, integrating with social media, and facilitating team communication. Solutions like Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zoho CRM help businesses streamline their sales and marketing efforts, track customer interactions, and improve customer service. Future developments may include more advanced AI-driven analytics to predict customer behaviour and preferences.
8. E-commerce Platforms
In today’s digital age, having an online presence is critical. E-commerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce allow businesses to sell products and services online. These platforms offer tools for inventory management, payment processing, and customer service. The future of e-commerce may include more personalized shopping experiences powered by AI and augmented reality (AR) to simulate in-store shopping experiences.
9. Mobile Applications
Mobile apps provide businesses with a direct channel to their customers for marketing, sales, and service. They offer convenience to customers and valuable data insights to businesses. Developing a mobile app can enhance brand presence and customer engagement. Future trends may include more integration of AR, voice search, and AI to create more interactive and personalized user experiences.
10. Internet of Things (IoT) Solutions
IoT connects physical devices to the internet, allowing them to send and receive data. This can lead to improved efficiency, better customer service, and new business models. For example, IoT can be used in inventory management, smart energy management, and predictive maintenance. Future developments may include more advanced IoT networks with better security and integration with AI for smarter data analysis.
11. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
AI and ML are revolutionizing business processes by automating tasks, providing deep insights, and enhancing customer experiences. Applications range from chatbots for customer service to predictive analytics in supply chain management. As AI and ML technologies evolve, they will become more capable, offering more advanced solutions like autonomous decision-making and advanced natural language processing.
12. Digital Marketing Tools
Digital marketing tools are essential for businesses to reach and engage with their audience online. Tools like Google Analytics, SEO platforms, social media management tools, and email marketing software help businesses understand their audience, optimize their marketing efforts, and track results. Future trends may see more integration of AI for personalized marketing campaigns and improved analytics.
13. Blockchain Technology
Blockchain offers a secure, transparent way to conduct transactions and store data. Its applications in business include supply chain management, smart contracts, and secure data sharing. As blockchain technology matures, it may revolutionize areas like payment processing and digital identity verification, providing more secure and efficient business processes.
14. Remote Work Infrastructure
With the increasing trend towards remote work, establishing a robust remote work infrastructure is essential for modern businesses. This includes tools for virtual collaboration, project management, and communication, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Asana. These tools help maintain team cohesion and productivity regardless of physical location. Additionally, ensuring secure remote access to company resources, like virtual private networks (VPN) and cloud services, is critical. In the future, we can expect further advancements in this area with more integrated platforms combining communication, project management, and workflow automation, as well as enhanced security features to protect against remote working vulnerabilities.
15. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Technologies
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are becoming increasingly important in business for training, product demonstrations, and enhancing customer experiences. AR overlays digital information in the real world, while VR creates a completely immersive experience. Industries like retail, real estate, and education are already leveraging these technologies for virtual showrooms, immersive training simulations, and interactive learning experiences. In the future, AR and VR will likely become more mainstream in business applications, with advancements leading to more realistic and interactive experiences. These technologies will also become more accessible and affordable, enabling even small businesses to utilize them for various purposes.
Without these digital solutions, businesses are looking at having a hard time competing in the modern-day marketplace–and 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.
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Andrew is a writer and former tech start up manager from Boise, ID. He owns an entertainment company he started after channeling inspiration from Simon Sinek.