Technology Business Owners Need to Stop Ignoring
Sometimes, the attitude of a business with new technology is to take a “wait and see” approach. Early adoption of some technology comes with risk of failures or security breaches. However, many types of technology that businesses might consider to be new have been around and tested for some time.
The danger of ignoring these advances is that your competition is likely taking advantage of them. If you’re not doing the same, you are falling behind as they pull ahead. Of course, the other risk is that this technology could be saving your company money and time. Often, you are wasting both of those things by either refusing or waiting to implement something new.
Here are four types of technology that it is time for business owners to stop ignoring.
Inventory Management Software
This seems like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised how many small businesses aren’t utilizing inventory management software. These businesses are keeping track of their inventory in an Excel spreadsheet and manually ordering items, not evaluating the risks of over or under ordering. Not to mention the costs of shelf space for items that are not selling.
A good inventory management software can do some great things for you. Instead of just keeping track of what you have, it takes things several steps further. This software:
- Automatically notifies you or even automatically orders items when quantities reach certain thresholds.
- Helps adjust inventory levels by keeping track of sales over time, determining best sellers and slow-moving items.
- Records lead time needed for orders, so not only will it order at a threshold number but also at the right time so that replacement products arrive before you run out.
Regarding Shelf Life
When discussing small business inventory management, we simply think of the costs and risks of running out of something. However, while a bulk discount might seem like a good thing, you must consider how often that item sells. You can end up losing money on the deal if products sit on your shelf for too long.
When dealing with perishable goods, this can be even costlier. You need to not only sell things quickly but before they are no longer useful. Having too much stock means selling it at a discount to get rid of it, cutting into your profits.
It is also important to understand that “perishable” has more than one meaning. For example, software and tech items will be obsolete and replaced with new models. Additionally, businesses must store certain times in specific ways so that humidity and temperature do not damage them. These are both forms of “spoiling” that determine how long an item can sit in inventory before it needs to be sold or discounted.
There are plenty of great inventory management technology options out there. If your business has not adopted it yet, now is the time.
Once a relatively new technology, many retail and other spaces now use beacons to communicate with customers to make their shopping experiences more personal and unique. But how does this technology work?
A beacon is a device that is placed at your physical location near the door or throughout the store. Once installed, it communicates with nearby devices which have Bluetooth enabled. This allows the beacon to alert customers coming in the door about specials and coupons of the day, and multiple beacons can give them directions throughout the store. This means they can find directions to everything from men’s wear to the restroom.
Malls, big-box stores and places like Starbucks are already using this technology. Beacons greatly enhance your customer’s shopping experience in a variety of ways. Since their introduction in 2013, the capability of these devices to gather and share data has vastly improved, so the future of beacon technology is something business owners need to stop ignoring and engage in.
Cryptocurrency and the Blockchain
We hear about the blockchain and cybercurrency, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, on almost a daily basis. What do those mean to businesses, though? Well, there are several aspects of the blockchain that businesses cannot afford to ignore any longer.
- Cryptocurrency Payments: While not overly common yet, businesses taking cryptocurrency for purchases include Overstock, Expedia, Subway, Paypal, Microsoft and Shopify.
- Blockchain Security: Blockchain is a shared leger that is both transparent and immutable. It is a great way to share records and record transactions securely. This is a developing technology in healthcare, pharmaceutical companies and corporate security, among others.
However, there are some obstacles to accepting cryptocurrency. The volatile nature of the cryptocurrency market means businesses need to convert the currency to dollars quickly. Otherwise, the value of their services or product becomes impossible to determine. Also, the tax implications of accepting cryptocurrency are just now being explored in depth. Despite this, more companies than ever see cryptocurrency as a vital and progressive step forward in the ecommerce marketplace.
As to blockchain security, things are still developing. The system, as it is, makes blocks that cannot be changed. Since blocks are designed to duplicate one another, a malicious block can easily be spread by a hacker. Also, while companies like MedBlock are experimenting with securing healthcare data, it is still difficult to secure this type of information on a blockchain since it is a transparent ledger. However, they do use the blockchain to store the location of the data, and other ideas are still in the development stages.
The acceptance of cryptocurrency, blockchain security and data storage are still in a constant state of change, but businesses should take advantage and adopt this developing technology.
The Internet of Things
When the internet of things (IoT) first took the stage in the world of business, it was largely thought to be a great tool for the production industry and for the gathering and analysis of big data. However, with more smart devices and data being gathered and transmitted by IoT devices than ever before, the internet of things is set to disrupt nearly every business out there.
First, smart and connected devices change the way employees work together and accomplish tasks. For instance, using 3D software and a 3D printer, employees develop and test products quickly, then send the design to a 3D printer anywhere in the world where the product is being manufactured. The process takes days rather than weeks at a time to produce prototypes for testing.
Other applications include business intelligence, connecting better to customers through their devices and extending your IT to devices deployed in the field. And people continue developing more applications every single day. The impact the internet of things will have on nearly every business is monumental.
Human Resources Software
One of the biggest areas of improvement in technology is human resources software. These applications save businesses time and money, and give control over things like benefits, PTO requests and 401K plans to employees.
- Clocking in and Out: The simple act of timekeeping is no longer hand written or even stamped cards, but instead is done online, with an app on the user’s phone, or even with a badge or the employee’s fingerprint. This makes the process easier, prevents timecard fraud, and saves time on payroll days.
- Applicant Tracking Systems: From the time an employee submits an application through every phase of the hiring process, an applicant tracking system enables management to see at a glance what stage someone is in when it comes to the process.
- Full Benefit Software: There are many other apps that allow for full benefit management from health insurance to stocks and investment. These applications can be proprietary or general administration programs.
This type of software makes for better employee engagement, but the financial savings alone make them technology that businesses can’t afford to ignore.
Technology is evolving every single day. We live in an age of speed and development that is unprecedented. Business cannot afford to ignore these developments, or they will rapidly be left behind by their competition.
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