AtoZ picture.pngAs a small business, you might find it daunting to try to keep up with new technologies. There may be technologies that you can’t even define. The following is an “A to Z” overview of hot technology trends that you might want to explore for cost savings, marketing penetration or helping streamlined operations:

 

Analytics encompasses such new forms as “next-generation analytics,” which allows companies to make forward-reaching business decisions, and “social analytics,” which measure, analyze and interpret interactions among people and online content.

 

Browser add-ons are third-party software tools that can be accessed on the toolbar of browsers such as Internet Explorer, Safari and Mozilla Firefox.  Add-on tools include design, collaboration and communication functions. Small business owners can use these third-party software tools to bolt quickly onto existing browser software. Now once-unimaginable services run natively on web tools.

 

Consumerization of IT refers to the fact that many companies, large and small, are saving money by allowing employees to use their own devices – such as tablets or smartphones – at work.

 

Data visualization has currently reached a lower price point and may be useful for data-intensive businesses, i.e. those that do high-volume Internet sales.

 

Easy mobile payment allows small businesses, and even microbusinesses, to take credit and debit card payments in settings that might have been cash-only in the past, i.e. arts and crafts fairs, mobile kiosks and homes.

 

4-G wireless cellular devices receive service that’s similar to the robust, plugged-in Web access that can be found in the office. Now, small business owners can browse the internet quicker. Additionally, all major phone carriers will be offering it.

 

Geo-coding converts a street address to equivalent geographic coordinates. Geo-coding creates the maps that local businesses often display on their websites.

 

Hybrid cloud is a combination of private intranet-based applications and public applications housed on a server by a cloud vendor.  Small businesses might want to have both in case their customers have sensitive data and if small business owners want to avoid hiring internal IT staff to install and configure applications.

 

iOS and Android operated devices are gaining popularity among businesses, particularly small to mid-sized business owner. Given Apple’s focus on updating its operating systems to be more secure and manageable, the iPhone established a foothold in the enterprise space, opening the door for exploring uses for the iPad and Android-powered devices.  Increasingly widespread adoption of various mobile technologies will allow small business executives on the go to access online information and multimedia content, and even have videoconferences with partners and customers in remote locations.

 

Jobcasting involves using podcasts to advertise open positions at a company..

 

Knowledge management tools are the process through which organizations generate value from their intellectual and knowledge-based assets.  This insight can help businesses foster innovation by encouraging the free flow of ideas, improve customer service by streamlining response time and boost revenues by getting products and services to market faster.

 

Location-based mobile and Internet marketing is particularly effective for small businesses that want to reach out to customers in real time to offer discounts, promotions and invitations to events when the customer is in the vicinity of their establishment.

 

Multimedia marketing and communications will involve video being integrated into consumer electronics, digital and Internet-based television, mobile computing and social software. Increasingly, small business owners will need to use create content using video. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2012, more than 25 percent of the content that workers see in a day will be dominated by pictures, video or audio.

 

Network appliances allow small businesses to use one piece of hardware that can encompass phone servers, document servers, e-mail servers, firewalls and routers.

 

On-the-go videoconferencing is now possible for businesses of all sizes to connect via smart phones and tablets with built-in video cameras and video-calling features.

 

Predictive financial modeling tools are being developed that can alert small businesses if they are at risk of losing money.

 

QR Codes are two-dimensional barcodes that small businesses can embed into advertising and direct mail pieces.  The codes link potential customers to a website, allow them to call your business or offer them a vCard when they scan the code with a smartphone.

 

Redundancy of data, documents and applications are facilitated by having cloud- and PC-based tools side by side.

 

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a practice by which small businesses can drive more traffic to their websites.  Strategic keyword, tagging and coding techniques are becoming more sophisticated and may require the advice of an outside consultant.

 

Pull Quote.pngTouch-controlled work tools, inspired by Apple products, now include products that streamline small businesses’ daily operations, like printers and desk-top PCs, and that allow more interaction with customers via less-expensive touch-screen point-of-sale kiosks.

 

Unified communications is a relatively new term that refers to using a single interface for various types of communications.  For example, small businesses can use a UC system to view their voice, text and e-mail messages all in one inbox.

 

Voice-activated software is improving in quality and reliability and allows small business users to navigate a computer and create documents more quickly than they could with a keyboard.

 

Web-based office software offer cloud-based word processing, spreadsheet and other applications that increase work product efficiency and allow backup and sharing in real time from anywhere.

 

Xtranets, also known as extranets, are growing in sophistication to allow secure outside access to internal intranets for the purpose of information sharing and ecommerce.

 

YouTube continues to be a fast and cost-effective forum for small businesses to post online videos as a means of advertising, marketing and communicating with customers.

 

Z-Wave is a wireless mesh networking technology that allows business owners to manage and control lighting, appliances, HVAC and security systems in their establishments even when they are offsite.