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5 exciting tech trends to keep your business from being boring

Technology constantly offers new and exciting ways for you to tell your story and showcase your business. Once you’ve caught your audience’s attention, it can help you to turn one-off customers into loyal followers through more personal interaction and targeted communications.

For entrepreneurs, tech shouldn’t be about jumping on the latest bandwagon just for the sake of it. It’s about seeing what’s out there and spotting how new tools might add value to your business. If you want to stay fresh, relevant, and one step ahead of your competitors, here are five trends worthy of attention.

 

360 Video: showing your business in a whole new light

Whether it’s to give a sense of what your new brand is all about, or perhaps to unveil your latest product range, video can be a very handy tool to have: especially when used as part of a social media campaign.

But the challenge here involves creating something that customers actually want to watch. Something that they’ll click on, take the next step to find out more about your business, and then share with their friends. For that impact factor, look carefully at 360 video. Here, the camera records multiple angles to give an immersive 3D effect. It’s exciting, it looks the part, and encourages viewers to engage with it. Take a look at these videos from Nescafe and Mercedes to get a sense of 360 in action.

The good news for small businesses is that it’s also becoming more accessible — so spending thousands of pounds on specialist equipment or a video agency may soon be a thing of the past. As a taste of what’s possible simply with the use of a smartphone, take a look at what Sony created with the Xperia Z5 phone.

 

Bluetooth Beacons: nudging your customers in the right direction

If you have a physical presence (especially a shop), it’s easy to assume that technology is ‘the enemy’: something that encourages customers to do everything online instead of coming out to see you in person. In fact, tech can be used to make physical shopping more attractive and to turn browsers — and even casual passers-by — into paying customers.

Bluetooth beacons are a good example of this. These low-cost wireless devices transmit a signal within a tightly defined area, enabling you to reach out to would-be customers with Bluetooth-enabled smartphones who happen to be close by. It could simply be to invite them to take a break in your cafe, or perhaps to publicise a one-day-only discount in your clothes shop. Either way, this technology allows you to connect with people at a time when they are literally on your doorstep.

 

Activity Sensors: personalising the health and fitness industry

The internet of things (IoT) is one of those catch-all tech terms that’s hard to ignore. Essentially,  it means connecting everyday physical items to the internet — enabling them to send and receive data. Businesses can therefore think about how consumers are already making use of IoT tech, and how they can use it to deliver a better customer experience.

The health and fitness industry is a great example. Activity monitoring apps now come as standard with higher-end smartphones, while the last few years has seen huge growth in the popularity of fitness wristbands and smartwatches. Real time activity monitoring is already familiar to consumers interested in fitness and wellbeing. Small businesses active in this niche can find ways to build on this familiarity and perhaps take it to the next level.

Examples may include data readers embedded into equipment such as free weights coupled with wearable sensors. When these are combined, customers have the potential of building up a complete virtual picture of their training sessions. Geared towards mixed martial arts training, The iPunch system from Responsive Sports gives an idea of the exciting new tech emerging in this field.

For a boutique fitness business, being at the cutting edge of IoT tech could be an effective way of positioning yourself apart from a crowd of competitors.

 

Wearable Tech: helping your engineers work smarter and deliver better service

Google’s optical head-mounted computer, Google Glass, has been with us for a couple of years. As a consumer toy, its early versions had rather limited appeal. As a business tool though, it has steadily carved a niche for itself — particularly in specialist technical areas.

Let’s say you have a small team of technicians. One of them encounters a snag while carrying out a servicing job at a customer’s premises. Through Google Glass, another member of your team is able to ‘beam in’ and see the issue at hand. With this backup, the problem can be fixed quicker. More generally, Google Glass enables the technician to instantly access the information they need, while keeping their hands free to complete the job.

With this technology, your team can work more efficiently when out in the field. Equally as important, in the eyes of customers you can use it to establish your ‘tech credentials’; as the type of business that embraces new ways of working to ensure customers’ problems are resolved quickly.

 

3D Printing: transforming your product ideas into reality

3D printing is essentially a form of manufacturing. You build a two dimensional picture of what you want to create via a computer. This model is divided into separate, extremely fine layers. The data is subsequently downloaded to a machine that materialises your model, constructing it layer-by-layer with powder resin according to your exact specifications.

For small-scale manufacturers of, for instance, jewellery or toys, it offers the chance to expand your product range. If you’re currently outsourcing production to a factory, it opens up the possibility of bringing it in-house. It also makes it possible to offer a personalised service, enabling you to produce items according to the exact requirements of individual customers. The tech is expensive at present, but it’s getting cheaper all the time.

Technology helps to provide small businesses with a level playing field. Innovations that were out of reach just years or months ago are now accessible — so invest wisely and you’ll continue to capture the imagination of your customers. Our blog always has something to say on the latest trends in business, so have a look and read your fill. Or, if you’re ready to start thinking about setting up a new company, our company formation guides are the place to start.
Published Friday January 29, 2016

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