From the introduction of 5G networks to substantial progress in artificial intelligence, technology seems to be evolving at a rapid pace and bringing significant developments across different industries. Everywhere we look, we find new ideas and innovation being brought to light.
There are now countless innovations that make it very easy for businesses to operate in the industry and for people to know about specific lessons or topics. For example, you can easily learn more about net neutrality and different tech topics by searching for the keywords online.
Technology has revolutionized the way we live and the way we do things. The advent of technology has allowed every human being in the world to accomplish tasks with ease without compromising the quality of their outputs. Because of technology, it’s now easy to do several tasks at the same time, connect with distant friends and family, and run a business at home.
Amidst all these changes, many business owners find themselves wondering: what does all this technological progress mean for my business? Does it bring opportunities, or is it a threat to worry about?
While technology is sometimes given a bad name, the numerous benefits it brings for the average business cannot be ignored. It is the technology that allows freelancers and remote employees to provide their services to the company while being miles away. It is the technology that makes it possible for a business to reach out to millions of its customers worldwide at the touch of a finger. Considering the countless ways in which technology is used by even the small-scale businesses today, it is hard to imagine the corporate world without it.
However, along with these benefits, technology also has its risks. While none of these risks are big enough to discourage businesses from using technology by any means, they are something that companies need to be aware of and protect themselves against, if they wish to thrive in this technology-driven world.
In this article, we take a detailed look at some of the major opportunities and risks posed by technology for the average business.
OPPORTUNITES BROUGHT ABOUT BY TECHNOLOGY
Technology has brought about the following opportunities for businesses:
Technology has drastically changed the way companies carry out their operations. Businesses are now able to automate all monotonous, repetitive tasks that were previously carried out by employees, freeing up employees’ time for more value-adding, creative work.
With technology, businesses can now do more things and not just limit their employees to a particular set of tasks. Since there are now apps and software that can accomplish repetitive tasks, employees are now encouraged to think out-of-the-box, collaborate with other people, and complete more complex projects.
The use of machinery and equipment allows work to be performed quicker and with greater accuracy, as there is no risk of human error. Moreover, the availability of high-speed internet makes it possible to perform business-related work from anywhere, without having to be physically present at the workplace.
Online funding solutions
If we go back a decade in time, whenever a business needed a loan, the only option would be to reach out to the bank. Not only did banks have a rigorous application process, which could potentially take weeks to complete, but they also had strict eligibility criteria. Now, your business can quickly get a loan if you have a good credit rating and a solid track record, but the same doesn’t apply for new or small businesses.
Online lending solutions are different in the sense that they wish to make borrowing as simple and quick as possible. They are also more willing to lend to smaller, riskier businesses that may not qualify for traditional funding. From short-term merchant cash advance for small businesses to longer-term loans, a wide variety of loan options are available online for companies in search of capital.
There are many software and apps that make it a breeze for team members to work together on different projects. Employees no longer need to email files and documents individually to each team member and save multiple versions, to collaborate. Online tools such as Google Docs provide a platform for numerous people to work on the same files simultaneously, even when they are miles apart.
There are also several apps like Teamwork and Trello that allow businesses to effectively manage different projects, assign work to different employees, and track progress.
Connect with customers
Interacting with customers and fostering positive relationships with them is vital for every business today, no matter how big or small. Technology has provided businesses with various mediums that make this possible. Social media, email marketing, websites, and apps are all great ways to improve communication with customers. These platforms allow the business to instantly inform customers about their latest offerings and also get feedback about the customer’s experience in dealing with the company. Without technology, this two-way communication wouldn’t have been possible.
Moreover, technology has become a great medium for businesses to foster customer loyalty as they can easily use social media to answer queries. Instead of having their customers visit their offices, customers will simply send their concerns through Facebook or email, then wait for a couple of minutes to get a reply. This will make it easy for businesses to reach more customers in different parts of the world and build a positive brand and image.
While many businesses still choose to operate through physical stores, technology has allowed a new kind of business model to emerge i.e., online businesses. E-commerce has made it possible for companies to perform all their activities online, without any physical presence. The significant advantage of online businesses is that they are able to target a much larger audience; instead of just serving customers within their geographical area, they can reach out to potential customers worldwide, increasing their sales and profitability.
As long as businesses have a stable internet connection and a working computer, they can offer their products and services, and accept orders and payments online. Customers will only have to browse through a business’s website, place their orders online, and wait until their orders are delivered to their doorsteps. This straightforward process will surely help businesses gain more profits and acquire more customers.
RISKS POSED BY TECHNOLOGY FOR BUSINESSES
While the opportunities brought about by technology are widely known, it is the risks that are not discussed as much as they should. Here are some of the main risks posed by technology for businesses:
Cyber attacks involve a third-party trying to gain unauthorized access to crucial business information such as financial records, personnel data, and information related to intellectual property. Almost all IT systems have some loopholes in them, which serve as a gateway for hackers in getting access to the system and all that is stored on it.
As technology is constantly changing, so are the cyber threats we are exposed to. The accessibility of the World Wide Web might be very beneficial for businesses, but this accessibility has also become the reason why more and more scammers and hackers are prevalent today. For this reason, even the largest enterprises have been a victim of cyber attacks, despite taking all the necessary precautionary measures.
With technology being widely embraced by all kinds of businesses, the average business has so many systems and tools in use that ensuring compliance with IT regulations is not always easy, and this can have disastrous consequences. At the very basic level, there are specified data protection regulations that every business must adhere to. Other than that, even a software vendor sending a lawsuit due to unauthorized use of the software could bring business functions to a complete halt.
The only way around this problem is to delegate the responsibility of ensuring compliance with specific individuals within the business and have half-yearly audits to monitor compliance.
At the end of the day, all IT systems are prone to unexpected breakdowns due to factors such as software downtime, internet problems, fires, or natural disasters. In the best cases, this could bring business operations to a temporary halt, while critical business data could be lost in the worst possible scenario.
The business needs to have a plan in place on how it will continue to function when its systems come to a halt. Moreover, it is vital to have regular backups and store them in a safe place other than the business premises and test the data recovery systems after intervals to ensure their effectiveness.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Although no business today can operate without the use of technology or deny the countless benefits it has to offer, most of the problems arise when IT systems are used without considering the risks associated with them. Whenever any new system or process is implemented within the business, it needs to be continuously monitored and maintained to ensure it brings the maximum benefit. The risks associated with it need to be considered and sought protection against, for the best results.
The same rule applies to technology. When technology is left to run on its own without an experienced team in place to monitor its usage, the business can face serious problems. The businesses need to be aware of the potential downsides of each form of technology to minimize its negative impact.