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Small Business Technology Trends for 2018

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Small Business Technology Trends for 2018

Out with the old, in with the new! We have seen a ton of new trends in business tech in recent years, and 2018 will only be a year of more and more changes. Seemingly distant technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning are finally making their way down to the small business sector, as well as more powerful tools for workplace convenience and mobility. Keep an eye on these small business technology trends for 2018.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is no longer characterized by science fiction robots and vindictive computers come to life. Today, artificial intelligence is increasingly used in business for both its computing abilities and convenience in freeing up time for its human counterparts. In 2018, artificial intelligence will finally be affordable enough for the little guys to take advantage of. From chat bots to computer learning software, AI for business is a technology you will want to keep your eyes on.

Cloud Computing

If you are not already utilizing cloud computing in one form or another, your business isn’t just stuck in 2017, it’s stuck in 1995. Most of the leading project management software, CRMs, and even file storing services are cloud based. The reason the cloud is so huge in business is its convenience and reliability. You can access a cloud based program from any device and automatically save and backup your information on an ongoing basis.

Cloud based desktops are a huge trend for 2018, as they take cloud computing to a whole new level of convenience. With a cloud based desktop, you can log into your desktop with all of your files from any device. With mobility and working from home at an all-time high, the prevalence of cloud computing will only continue to rise.

More Automation

Automation, automation, automation – this trend isn’t going anywhere any time soon. From marketing to the machine shop, small businesses need now more than ever to hop on the automation train or get left in the dust. You don’t need to worry about automation coming for anyone’s jobs just yet, but it will certainly make menial tasks more bearable and wide scale operations more possible.

More Powerful CRMs

Client relationship managers (CRMs) will be more than a notetaking and follow-up reminder system in 2018. CRMs are growing to include both automation and artificial intelligence. The new wave of CRMs can send your follow-up emails for you automatically and even analyze your leads to recommend which are the most likely to convert. Combine this with being based in the cloud and you’ve got the sales person’s new best friend.

Service Providers Over In-House

With all of these new small business technology trends for 2018, the use of service providers over in-house teams is increasing in popularity. Hiring a service provider for your technology needs allows you to keep up with the fast changing landscape, and means that you don’t have to do constant re-training and new hiring to be able to use the next big tech trend. Service providers are specialists in what they do, and only charge you to use the service you need. Using a service provider over an in-house team allows you to more nimbly shift with trends in technology.

Small Business Technology Trends for 2018

What technology do you think will finally reach the small business sector in 2018? Are we in for a year of AI’s and automation, or just another year of the same old tech everyone is already using? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Tech Trends: Bots for Business

Bots for Business

Have you heard the new buzz in the tech world about bots for business? You may not be completely familiar with what they are and what their value is, but whether you knew it or not, you have likely already interacted with one. Business bots have been around for years, but with the growth in artificial intelligence, they are becoming more sophisticated and more widely used at a fast-growing rate. They have become a game-changer in saving companies time and money.

What Are Business Bots?

Business bots are essentially a basic form of artificial intelligence software. They can be programmed to respond to questions in certain ways and to take a specific action based on a request. They must be customized by developers to make decisions based on certain questions and follow certain thought trees. The use of a copy writer is also needed when building a bot so that they can be programmed to respond in helpful, personal ways. The last thing you want is a robotic bot, right?

One of the most common use of business bots is the customer service chat bot. Many businesses now have a chat function on their website and chat bots are a popular way to handle simple requests. For example, if a user asks for an order status on tracking number X, the bot can be programmed to pull that data and give it to the user; no human necessary. If the situation escalates or gets too complicated for the bot, it can seamlessly be transferred to a human representative.

How They Are Being Used

The most common use for bots are to manage business’s chat function. As mentioned before, this is often in the form of customer service, but can be sales bots as well. They can easily be programmed to perform basic transactions and answer questions about products.

Two other great applications for bots in business are for IT and internal departments like HR. IT companies are using bots to answer technical questions, and in some cases, actually fix technical issues too. For internal use, like in an HR department, bots can be used to answer questions like “how many vacation days do I have?” or to process paystub copy requests. Bots are not only capable of answering questions, but can be functional too. They do a great job at handling simple requests to save the human employees the time spent on menial (but necessary) tasks.

Why Bots for Business are Getting So Popular

The benefits of business bots are probably becoming pretty obvious: they are great at saving companies time and money. They can handle simple tasks that soak up the time of personnel, and eliminate the chance for human error in these tasks. Although humans usually still need to be present when situations escalate or surpass the bot’s programming, they can still be very helpful in handling lower level inquiries.

As the technology continues to be developed, bots for business are becoming cheaper and easier to program as well. They are much more accessible for every-day companies to afford and set up. For most companies, the benefits they offer weighed against their cost is a no-brainer.

Bots for Business

Bots are becoming common in businesses of all sizes and in all industries. Any business that handles monotonous tasks or customer inquiries would benefit from the use of a bot – so pretty much everyone. Every year, technology in the business community works to stream-line processes and make the lives of humans easier, and bots for business are a big step toward that goal.

What Are Online Ads that Seem to Follow You?

Online Ads that Seem to Follow You

Have you ever visited a website or been online shopping for a specific item, and now, all of a sudden, you are seeing ads from that website everywhere? If it’s an item you are not interested in or have already purchased, they might seem a little annoying. If you are still considering the purchase though, through a business’s eyes, these ads that follow you online are a marketing dream.

What Are Online Ads that Seem to Follow You?

Ads that “follow” you across different websites are called re-targeting, or re-marketing, ads. This analogy should help explain why they are so powerful: imagine if someone visited your brick and mortar clothing store. They browsed for a while and liked the clothes, but didn’t make a purchase. Normally they would leave and likely never think about your store again. But what if you had a way of subtly putting your clothes in front of them throughout their day? Maybe someone walked by wearing the clothes they were just looking at, or they saw a billboard for your brand featuring what they had just tried on, and now offering a 20% off coupon on these items! If this was you as a consumer, wouldn’t you be pretty close to returning to the store and making a purchase now?

This is essentially what re-marketing is, but in a digital version. With Google’s re-marketing ads you can track who has visited your site, what pages they viewed, and even if they took actions like added items to their cart.

How Re-Marketing Works

For most types of re-marketing, you must set up lists, or “audiences,” in Google Analytics to gather the information of those who visit your website. The most basic audience type is to gather everyone who visits any page of your website to re-market to. On top of a general audience you can also start to build more targeted audiences based on their behavior; such as which web pages they visited and what items they viewed.

These audiences can then be used to either show ads to across Google’s display network or to target them in Google Searches. For display network ads, these are those ads you have probably seen with an image and a little bit of text. For search ads, by using re-targeting here, your ads will be shown at the top of their search results if users in your audience make a google search related to your website.
Re-marketing ads are a powerful way to stay at the top of the mind of shoppers. The transaction process often takes multiple visits to your website over a span of days or weeks before a purchase is made. Don’t let customers move onto a competitor and forget all about you; stay on their radar with re-marketing.

Types of Re-Marketing Ads

Standard Re-Marketing

Standard re-marketing is when you build an audience based on visitors to your website and re-market to them with ads on websites in the Google display network.

Search Re-Marketing

Search re-marketing takes users in your audience, and if they make a Google search for one of your keywords, you will get preference to show up at the top of their search results.

Video Re-Marketing

Video re-marketing takes those who have viewed your content on YouTube and re-markets to them either with YouTube videos, banner ads in the Google search network, or with search ads.

Email List Re-Marketing

Email list re-marketing is great if you already have an established list of past customers or contacts. You can upload that list into Google and specifically target them with either banner ads on Google’s display network or with search ads based on their email address.

Re-Marketing

If you have taken notice of re-marketing ads, that means your potential customers have too. Consider this type of digital advertising for your website. Staying on a customer’s radar will ensure that they stick with you throughout their entire shopping process.

2017 Technology Tips for Denver Businesses

Technology Tips for Denver Businesses

The Denver business community has grown tenfold in recent years. Several large businesses have recently relocated to the Denver area and startups and small businesses are cropping up in Denver at a growing rate as well. Many new business owners find themselves overseeing areas of a business they are not familiar with though, such as IT. With such a fast-changing landscape, it’s important to stay up to date on technology tips for Denver businesses. Keep your competitive edge and don’t let next year’s new businesses edge you out!

Have a Cloud Backup Solution

Backing up your network on an in-house server or hard drive has become more expensive and less secure than cloud backup for businesses. Find a cloud provider that can backup your network on an ongoing basis and that will maintain your system updates and cyber security.

Having a professional cloud backup solution will protect you and your business from hacks, system failures, human error, or anything else that could cause data loss. Data loss issues can put businesses days or weeks behind, but with cloud backup, you can restore everything within a matter of minutes.

Password Protect Everything

You have likely heard this many times before, and here it is again: do not use the same password for everything! Yes, I know it’s just easier that way, but with the same password on everything, if one account gets compromised then everything with that same password is essentially compromised as well.

Use a different, long password for each log in you have. The longer the password, the better. One tactic that can get you a long password that is easy to remember is by stacking 2-3 words on top of each other. If you have a huge number of accounts though, use a password saver to eliminate the risk of forgetting them.

Use Cloud Computing Rather than a Traditional Network

Cloud computing has become the gold standard for 2017 businesses. Employees expect the flexibility to be able to access their desktop from anywhere, and clients expect you to be able to send them anything they need digitally.

Cloud computing has a number of benefits for business owners too. Businesses save money on IT staff and equipment because they do not need a physical network of servers. Cloud computing is also more secure against viruses, hacks, and data losses than a traditional network. This means less risk of compromised proprietary or confidential client information.

Mobile Friendly Everything

For retailers and essentially anyone with a website, having everything mobile friendly is a requirement for competing in 2017. Mobile payments are expected by customers and are more secure for vendors too.

For the first time, in 2016 internet use on mobile phones surpassed that on desktops. If your website is not mobile friendly you are turning away more than half of your visitors! Make sure you have a responsive website design that looks and works great on both desktop and mobile devices.

Technology Tips for Denver Businesses

Denver is growing and so is its business community. Keep your company competitive by staying up to date on all of the modern technology trends. Each year, what consumers expect of a business changes. If you don’t change with those expectations, you will find yourself falling behind the next generation of new businesses.

What is Cloud Computing?

what is cloud computing

Most working professionals have heard of cloud computing, either as the rising workplace trend or as a hot term in tech. Many people who hear the phrase though find themselves asking, what is cloud computing?

In basic terms, cloud computing is storing and accessing information over the internet rather than from your device’s hard drive. The traditional way to store information is to have a computer with a hard drive and all information stored in your files there. In many offices, there is also an internal server where shared information can be stored and accessed by others in your organization. In contrast to this, cloud computing is having everything stored offsite and accessed by users through the internet.

Once you know what cloud computing is, you can start to imagine the number of benefits and conveniences it offers businesses of any size.

Benefits of Cloud Computing

 

Minimal Hardware Onsite

With cloud computing, you and your organization will need only minimal hardware onsite. No servers, no back-ups, not even sophisticated computers are needed for cloud computing. Devices hardly need any internal storage when you are computing 100% in the cloud.

Access Files and Programs Anywhere

Being able to access your saved data and programs from anywhere is invaluable. The convenience of not needing to bring a laptop to and from the office or adding files to a flash drive for every meeting seems difficult to imagine. With cloud computing, by simply logging on to any device you can pick up right where you left off. This means easier working at home, easier travel, and quicker set up for presentations when you can simply log in to the cloud on location to grab the files you need.

Lower Your Costs

For those money conscious business owners out there, all of this information is probably starting to look like some serious savings. With hardly any hardware and memory needed, your costs in equipment and servers just got cut down to a fraction. Not only that, but with only minimal hardware onsite, your IT staffing needs just went to down too. Cloud computing allows you to both save money and gain convenience.

Speed & Security

Cloud computing will give you both speed and security in your network. There is no lost time due to sitting around waiting to load a large file on an old computer, and no long phone calls with IT when your system goes down. With cloud computing you also have an automatic back-up to call on if you lose data due to a hack, natural disaster, or (the most common cause) human error.

Your productivity will skyrocket when time spent twiddling your thumbs in front of a slow computer is eliminated. With all data stored remotely, there is little to no computing power needed on your end. Say hello to both speed and security with cloud computing.

What is Cloud Computing?

To both small and large businesses, cloud computing is cost saving and convenient. Access your files from anywhere while still benefitting from heightened security and speed.
 

Are you looking for a better computing experience?