Four Tech Hacks That Will Improve Your Business and Your Life in 2017
Aquila Leon-Soon, WE NYC Mentor
Aquila Leon-Soon - Advance Talent Solutions Inc.

As a small business owner, identifying and leveraging your competitive advantage is critical to your success. Doing more with less is even more important as you grow your business by putting money back into it. When you’re running a lean organization, you have to identify areas of your internal operations that can benefit from advances in technology.

As we look ahead to 2017, industry tech insiders such as Gartner Inc. have shared that technology advances such as artificial intelligence, predictive apps and the Internet of Things (IoT) are at their tipping points and ready to disrupt the way we do business.

Even if your company is a fraction of the size of Expedia with a proportionally sized R&D budget, there are opportunities to leverage existing technologies.

Aquila Leon-Soon

Companies such as Expedia are tapping into new technologies to offer more value to their customers and predict their future needs through AI. You might be asking “What does this have to do with my small business?” My answer is “Everything.” These new technologies will lower the barriers to getting started as an entrepreneur in much the same way as cloud storage (Dropbox, Google Drive), smartphones and apps (iPhone, Quickbooks online) and virtual assistants (Upwork). Even if your company is a fraction of the size of Expedia with a proportionally sized R&D budget, there are opportunities to leverage existing technologies.

If you are like me, you are searching for new ways to make service delivery to clients and internal operations as efficient as possible through technology. And you want to ensure that you won’t turn into the next Kodak. Here are four ways that new technology will help grow your business and maintain your home in 2017:

  1. Reach more customers through messaging - According to the Activate 2016 Consumer Tech & Media Research Study, tech consumption through gaming and messaging formats will outpace social media by 2020. Messaging through the use of chatbots will also help small businesses grow their sales and customer service departments faster. Facebook has opened its digital platform to the integration of chatbots to help businesses like 1-800-Flowers reach customers and allow  order placement through Facebook messenger. Try using some of these simple customer service chatbots to reach your customers faster via Facebook or Slack.
  2. Transform your business with robots - Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery system aims to deliver small packages to customers in 30 minutes or less. Even the established hospitality company Hilton Worldwide, with its partner IBM, has developed its first concierge robot, “Connie.” Believe it or not, integrating robots and drones into business operations is an idea that’s fast becoming as mainstream as having a smartphone. If you sell products or merchandise online, check out new innovators such as QuietLogistics. This startup warehouse fulfillment center operator allows small e-commerce businesses to use robots to support customer order and shipment needs. With four-foot robots packaging your goods in the QuietLogistics warehouse, the company offers a great way to leverage its technology and robots to scale your business without a huge capital investment.
  3. Automate your work life at home - If you use Google for Business, you can now keep connected in your home with its new product, Google Home. This internet-connected speaker system allows you to seamlessly connect your work and personal lives virtually in the comfort of your home. Voice commands allow you to review your Google calendar and Google Keep tasks from home as well as lock your front door and turn off the lights while sitting in your business meeting.
  4. Do more with less (technology) - According to AppFinder, 71 to 75% of smartphone owners who download an app use it for less than one day. To streamline your technology use, check your phone’s usage log often with Rescuetime to determine which apps really help you keep on track. Once you know what type of apps you really need, aim to download ones that can manage both your business and home. Timely is a great mobile app that integrates your calendar, daily GPS locations and project management tasks all in one place to ensure that you do not miss any billable hours when invoicing your clients. To help unclutter your meeting request emails, artificial intelligence makers developed Amy, the AI virtual scheduling assistant, to manage your meeting requests.

Here’s to a tech-savvy 2017 that lets you reach more customers, transform your business, automate and do more with less!