The digitization of business and how technology is shaping the future of work and commerce
Despite still being relatively young, few people could deny the effect the web, computers, and advanced tech have had on the world of business. The web is, in real terms, still just a little over 30 years old – yet web tech like e-commerce, cloud computing, and networking have completely transformed how (and where) modem companies can operate.
As the pace of development and sophistication of tech has increased over the years, both have brought about massive changes in what’s possible for even the smallest of firms to achieve in today’s connected world. This growing integration of advanced technologies in today’s firms is now so profound that it’s even coined its own name – the so-called digitization of business.
A fourth industrial revolution
This increasing reliance on the web and tech is also often compared to the idea of a new industrial revolution – a fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0 as it’s often referred to. Just like the previous industrial revolutions that went before it, Industry 4.0 has the potential to completely upend what we currently consider possible for firms and individuals alike.
Technologies that are already disrupting the world of work
It would be difficult to overstate the advantages already brought by the web, e-commerce, and modern computing, but emerging tech has the potential to provide yet more considerably advanced benefits and changes. Some of the more advanced tech that is already incoming include:
The growing use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
For many years, computer scientists promised the world a glittering future filled with autonomous software, robots, and machines, yet until only very recently, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has somewhat spectacularly failed to deliver on all those assurances.
Modern AI tech is now being used in a huge range of applications – everything from online photo-editing programs like Google Photos, which uses face recognition to organize photos by person, to streaming services like Spotify (News – Alert) and Netflix, which use the tech to analyze your usage patterns and make suggestions of content they think you might enjoy.
AI is also being used increasingly in business applications, transforming the modern workplace and leading to increased automation that has the added benefit of streamlining operations and reducing costs.
AI tech is particularly adept at performing some of the more time-consuming and repetitive tasks that are an inherent part of running a firm. For example, AI-driven accounting software is now capable of processing invoicing – everything from generating invoices to sending reminders to clients to help ensure prompt payment. Coupled with online payment systems, this largely removes the perennial problem of customers paying late.
Cloud technologies that are supercharging how and where businesses can operate
Not so long ago, any company wanting to take advantage of the considerable benefits brought by computers and networking would have had to invest considerable sums in setting up and maintaining their own equipment.
Partly through vastly improved connection speeds (both mobile and fixed-line), plus the combination of vastly improved hardware and software, cloud computing is slowly transforming the way firms use digital technologies.
Unlike what its name might suggest, cloud computing has nothing to do with the fluffy weather phenomenon we see in the sky – rather, the term refers more to any remote computing service that is delivered to users, typically over the web and often on a subscription basis. This pay-as-you-go model offers the greatest flexibility to users and allows companies to quickly upgrade or downgrade their level of service provision.
Cloud computer services bring multiple benefits to firms, including (but not limited to):
The ultimate scalability and flexibility: As cloud servers are held remotely hosted by specialist companies, increasing or decreasing provision is as quick as making a call or sending an email to the technical department to request a service change. This is a far cry from when firms invested in their own networking tech and would have to fight an almost unending battle of trying to predict their digital requirements.
Access to the best and fastest computer hardware and software: Cloud companies are in the business of selling cloud-based services, and one of the easiest ways a specialist firm can attract customers and increase their revenue is through investing in the best and fastest tech. The cost of tech on this level is far beyond the ability of the majority of smaller firms, e.g., Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). However, as cloud firms share these machines among multiple clients, they can justify the outlay.
24/7/365 backup and security: As many a company discovered in the past, the costs of running an internal network go far beyond just the initial charges of hardware and software. Rather, the maintenance of keeping networks up and running – plus paying qualified IT staff – could often prove prohibitive to all but the largest, most cash-rich firms. By partnering with a cloud services company, you’ll get access to best-in-class support technicians and experts capable of protecting your precious company data while also offering round-the-clock advice and support.
A truly mobile workforce: Because the cloud holds your documents and runs software remotely in a central hub, you can empower your workers to become truly mobile. In particular, running specialized collaborative software will allow your teams to contribute to projects, regardless of location. Better yet, by drawing on the considerable processing power of remote machines you’ll also let your staff perform even the most complex of computing tasks on low-power devices.
Video conferencing technologies
Even comparatively simple tech like video conferencing systems that have been around for many years are now starting to change how work happens. In particular, these platforms can be a huge aid when paired with project management and collaborative work apps – plus, they can reduce company overheads associated with in-person travel and meetings.
The growth and popularity of video conferencing increased exponentially through the Coronavirus, but even now the worst of the virus appears to be over, there’s little doubt this technology will continue to play an important role in modern business.