Top Tech Trends for 2017

We’ve seen a lot of business-changing technologies develop over the past few years, like cloud services, Bluetooth-equipped everything, video conferencing, and more. As new technologies emerge, the workforce it looking towards new tools and best practices, especially in 2017. Let’s take a look at three emerging tech trends that small business owners should have on their radar.

Smart-Office Systems

Smart systems allow you to perform all of these tasks on one screen or application, within seconds. Then, imagine reversing these actions just as easily.

Smart technology, brought to us courtesy of the Internet of Things, has changed how we interact with our homes and smart devices for several years now. Recently there has been a huge emphasis placed on putting smart technology into our offices to better integrate its infrastructure.

Imagine walking into your office in the morning. You access your smart hub and turn lights on in the whole office with one button. You turn the thermostat to an office-appropriate temperature. You open office window shades. You unlock any closed office doors. You review security footage from the night. You turn on the conference room projector. You flip on the breakroom’s coffee machine.

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A good way to start the smart office integration is by installing basic smart-office systems, like the smart thermostat Nest and Vivitar’s smart automation essentials kit. These are basic, low-level entry systems that can help you start to learn how smart office technology can make a real change for your business and office space.

Collaboration Tools

As remote workers become more common, collaboration tools have become an important part of many companies' tech suite. While these tools aren't necessarily new in 2017, they are likely to see some game-changing refinements this year. Slack and Yammer users, for example, have expressed frustration because of the inability to search chat histories for relevant conversations. It’s anticipated that AI bots similar to Siri and Cortana could provide the solution this year.1 Bots will have the ability to segregate conversations based on keywords and perhaps even notify interested parties of those conversations, even if they aren’t logged in to the messaging service. These “digital assistant” bots could even schedule meetings by analyzing conversations, or locate missing team members using GPS.

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Business owners looking to implement one of these collaboration tools to facilitate communication on their team should first survey the team to see what they would want out of a tool. Some, like Asana and Podio, offer workflow management in addition to a chat function, while others, like Slack and Yammer, make file transfer easy without the need for endless email attachments. There are hundreds of options out there, so looking for one that will alleviate some of your team’s biggest pain points not only ensures better outcomes, it makes the decision easier.

Live-Streaming

Live-streaming might seem like a purely personal tech trend, especially since it’s recently gained popularity thanks to the Facebook Live feature and sites like Twitch. However, live-streaming is going to become increasingly important to businesses around the world as they look for inventive ways to reach their customers. As a small business, it’s imperative that you find practical marketing tactics without breaking your budget. Live-streaming enables you to share live company events, showcase new products or services, or offer training. The generally accepted best practice is not to use these videos like a commercial, but rather provide your viewers with some wisdom or insight they can take away, but which will also keep them thinking about your business.

Live-streaming will not only prove your transparency and authenticity to consumers, it can also allow you to communicate with them in real-time about your prototypes, services, or products.

The best part? Live-streamed videos can be saved and shared again later, turning this instant social connection tool into a lasting piece of marketing collateral.

Ready to jump on the live streaming bandwagon? Take to your business’ Facebook page to live-stream company events, updates, and even any upcoming sales or specials. You can also build a live-streaming application onto your own website, where visitors can watch along in real-time when they’re already viewing your page.

As we grow to depend more and more on emerging technologies to make our workplaces more effective, efficient, and safe, business owners everywhere should keep their eyes open for any new technological tools, resources, and defenders as they look for ways to improve their work environments.