Uncertainty is the most daunting part of entrepreneurship. That uncertainty has likely been compounded exponentially this year. But one thing is certain— in a time of crisis, innovations have assumed a head-spinning pace, rendering outdated approaches extinct and causing many companies to completely reinvent the way that they work.
The first stage in this crisis was survival. Cutting costs, revisiting forecasts, and stabilizing your business. But that can only get you so far, and you now need to be looking past COVID-19.
You’re not forgetting it or avoiding the practices that have saved your business so far. Instead, you’re maintaining your crisis plan while looking for previously non-existent opportunities to gain traction going into 2021.
Today, the analysts of McKinsey Digital agree that the crisis has led to emerging business opportunities, and the recovery from COVID-19 will be primarily digital. So what can small business leaders do to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis as winners?
Let’s explore the latest trends in information technology and 4 practical tips for how your business can leverage them during your recovery.
Tech Trends For Businesses in 2020-2021
Many technology trends that have slowly been making traction, have seen an unprecedented boost in the past year. You’ve likely noticed a few of them as you’ve transitioned your team to working remotely or explored launching an eCommerce platform. But here are a few others to be aware of going into the end of 2020.
Marketplaces Like Upwork
Just like on-demand delivery services, freelancing marketplaces like Upwork will continue to gain popularity. Driven by job cuts and budget reductions urging businesses to hire more freelancers, online freelancing platforms will enable companies to tap into expanded pools of global talent and hire qualified workers.
Similarly, there will be more opportunities for companies to enter the freelancing platform creation market. Whether it’s better service, streamlined applications, or greater job curation, there are plenty of ways to disrupt this emerging service.
AI has been a consistent presence and focus for startups and technology companies over the last 10-years. And while it’s been useful for incremental functionality in the past (think iPhone and Siri or Tesla and self-driving cars), now, it’s truly becoming a major business disruptor. Not only because of its capability to accelerate and automate rule-based processes but also because it helps achieve better operational efficiency and reduces human error.
AI is also likely to be your greatest asset for business recovery. Here are just a few things you can do by leveraging data analytics:
Gain a better understanding of changing customer preferences
Discover new business opportunities
Identify and eliminate bottlenecks in your operations
Minimize and better allocate advertising costs
Provide greater customer support through automated chat
For entrepreneurs looking to start a business or for established businesses looking to pivot their business model, you can use AI to build as-a-service operations. Take delivery service apps like Instacart for example, that use AI analytics to garner insights about customers and their behavioral patterns. There are still plenty of industries prime for these types of services, as well as room for competition in current ride-sharing, food delivery avenues that are worth exploring.
Internet of Things
While AI helps businesses make sense of their data, the Internet of Things (IoT) helps capture and deliver data from a plethora of interconnected devices. Simply put, IoT is a combination of sensor and data analytics systems, helping businesses aggregate metrics to make more accurate decisions.
In a post-COVID-19 world, IoT is becoming the main driver of telehealth, helping physicians remotely monitor patients’ state and automatically alert them to urgent conditions. It’s also improving remote doctor visits, allowing for patients and doctors to have more versatile check-ups, without having to meet in-person.
The benefits of IoT even expand into products and services. In the supply chain management space, businesses are leveraging these data sources in app development for smart inventory management, logistics, and merchandising. As of today, IoT applications are present in the manufacturing, automotive, agriculture, energy sector, logistics, and hospitality industries, to name a few.
The increase in remote work is making cybersecurity one of the top post-COVID-19 priorities. The amount of disparate connections to sensitive data is increasing and so are the potential targets for perpetrators.
The top cybersecurity threats this year have included phishing, IoT attacks, cryptojacking, the evolution of ransomware strategies, state-sponsored attacks, and crypto-physical attacks. In other words, the opportunities for data breaches are increasing and the methods to do so are becoming more and more intricate.
In 2020, data breaches are among the greatest cybersecurity concerns, with health records, corporate intellectual property, smart cars, and connected devices being the most vulnerable targets. As of today, tech companies increasingly rely on data encryption and blockchain technology for resolving cybersecurity issues, which is becoming more readily available.
5G is a next-generation cellular network technology which has a number of advantages over 4G: it has wider coverage, greater data bandwidth, higher speed, and lower latency. As such, it has the potential to transform the world as we know it and improve the functionality of self-driving cars, smart cities, AR/VR, and facilitate machine-to-human interactions.
5G mobile service is expected to be implemented by 2030, but 2020 marks the start of the deployment of the 5G telecommunication network. The long-awaited advent of the 5th generation mobile networks will act as a major impetus for accelerated development and adoption of most of today’s groundbreaking technologies.
These trends will develop in synergy, with 5G. Supporting the spread of IoT, propelling the further increase in applications of AI and data analytics, and creating the need for sophisticated cybersecurity solutions.