Business and technology are by no means exclusive industries from each other. The tech industry has long been a launching point for new business, and there are few businesses in the world today that don’t rely on technology at some level. But as intermixed as they already are, the crossover is only increasing.
“Business technology is a broad term that can have many meanings,” says Sean Killian, product marketing manager at Enola Labs Software. “I look at technology as utilizing innovative resources to optimize and improve current business processes with a goal of long term cost-savings or revenue-generation.” The options within that arena are virtually endless.
“Business tech is any innovation or invention to make business more impactful, more powerful and ultimately more profitable,” says Chike Uzoka, chief innovation officer for Valentine Global, LLC.
No matter how you define business technology or its applications, the opportunities presented by this merging of business and tech are very real. For those looking to position themselves in a digital economy, the first step is to be aware of what’s going. To help with that, we gathered expert opinions on some of the most compelling business technology trends out there.
Business technology trends to keep an eye on
1. Minimization of material investment
For Uzoka, a huge trend in business technology is utilizing tech to connect people with what they need—with minimum investment.
“Long story shortened, the largest hotel chain in the world doesn't own any property and the largest taxi company doesn't own any cars,” Uzoka explains. “How can you be a conduit to connect a whole bunch of people to something they need, and not have to shell out any cash?”
“These platform-oriented businesses are harnessing the power of technology to offer their services,” says Slye Joy Serrano, founder and creative director at Content Hacker. “Note also how brick-and-mortar stores are giving way to digital or online retailers.”
Technology has allowed platforms like Uber and Airbnb to cause substantial shifts within their industries without even owning the vehicles or properties of their customers. This is a successful formula other tech entrepreneurs will likely continue to pursue.
2. Security experts on payroll
“The most recent and interesting trend has been the rise of more sophisticated IT security,” says Sean Allen, digital marketing manager of Aware. As more and more companies are storing and optimizing data and transitioning to cloud platforms, data security is moving from a “buy a padlock” mentality to a “hire a security guard” mentality.
“The rise of ransomware and cloud hacks have meant security experts. For companies, this is probably the most rapidly expanding area,” Allan says. This could be why the job opportunity outlook for cyber security experts is so high.
3. Cloud-enabled everything
“The biggest trend now is companies moving their operations into cloud-enabled environments,” Killian says. “With platforms like AWS and Azure, companies can take advantage of world-class enterprise solutions for a fraction of the cost of the past.” Killian explains that these platforms have opened up affordable and stable options for small companies that may not have been able to afford those options in the past.
4. Smart offices
“For us, smart home or smart business tech has been the most interesting development of late,” says Amy Kilvington of Wooden Blinds Direct. The Internet of Things (IoT) is shaking up business technology in many ways, but one definite advantage is within the workplace itself. “We recently incorporated smart technology across the business, including smart cameras, thermostats and fingerprint recognition,” Kilvington says.
“We also plan to launch facial recognition in the near future, which will make clocking in and clocking out even more seamless. We've found that business technology can not only benefit our employees through data and automation, but also by making it a more comfortable and safe place to work.”
5. Tech-boosted recruiting
Many recruiters already utilize social media to glean information about candidates, but that might only be the beginning.
“I see a trend toward more technology-aided recruiting,” says Sarah Lucas, CEO of WAHspace. As examples, Lucas mentions sourcing candidates through professional networking sites, online skill testing and personality profiling, resume keyword scans and digital communications.
“While in-person interviewing skills will always be a benefit, today's job seekers should have a strong professional online presence and know the etiquette of communicating digitally for business purposes,” Lucas says.
6. Accessible tech for all
“One of the big trends happening now is a new wave of technology that enables non-technical people to do the work that previously required a team of engineers,” says Michael Frye, founder and CEO of BigPicture. Frye mentions tools like BigPicture and Bubble that allow users to build apps or a marketing tools without knowing how to code.
“The good part is that it's making it easier for non-technical people to get things done without knowing how to code, and thus is no longer an excuse for not being able to build something,” Frye says.
But even in a smaller way, more and more businesses are seeing the value of investing in technology to better allocate employee time. “A great example is putting iPads in sales teams’ hands so they can quickly access documents, place orders and communicate with team members quickly and efficiently,” Killian says.
“Allowing them to upload information directly into their internal systems saves time and allows sales professionals to worry about selling and not inputting data.”
7. Technology certifications
In recognition of how useful different technologic capabilities are for professionals in many fields, more and more companies are offering technology training modules and certifications.
“Students should take advantage of different free certifications online to help better prepare themselves for the technology realities of today's workplace,” Killian advises. “Google, Amazon and Facebook all have various technology-related certifications that can give students a leg up on competition when it comes time to start searching for jobs.”
8. Business technologists
A business technologist is a senior-level professional who is responsible for ensuring businesses invest sensibly in technologies. These professionals take into account the current tech landscape of an organization, identify needs that can be addressed with technology and oversee the implementation of this technology.
Hannah Munro, lead business technologist at Itas Solutions, came into the job title after gaining experience in many different business departments. “I now work across multiple software platforms, helping companies to design their own business management solutions,” Munro says.
“A business technologist role does exist quite widely but mostly in a very specific specialty or with another title,” Munro says. “Other similar titles include business analyst or a solutions architect.”
9. Bring your own device (BYOD)
“The BYOD trend has really been evolving very fast in the workplace during the last few years,” says Carlos Rodrigo Montagner, IT executive at Merial. “People have started to bring their own devices to connect to the corporate wi-fi network.” Whether this manifests in employees bringing their personal laptops to work, or just trying to connect to the network with their phones, organizations need extra vigilance to avoid compromising security.
“So it takes some effort for IT departments to organize that, create rules and to assure data integrity throughout the businesses.” Montagner says companies are adjusting with stronger network security infrastructure and compliance standards for personal devices.
10. AI for big data analytics
“The wide adoption of big data is making companies way more effective at finding and reaching their target audiences,” says Pierre de Braux, content strategist at Spiralytics. “It's also uncovering a wealth of information about how companies operate and where process improvements can be made. Big data doesn't necessarily solve a specific problem; it makes us better problem solvers in general.”
The more businesses utilize data to improve, the more data they want. This is leading to a huge incentive for artificial intelligence (AI) systems that can interpret the information.
“Analytics as we know is a super time-consuming activity,” says Ian Khan, technology futurist and author. “As machine intelligence gets better and more accurate, it will be much more affordable to process data through AI than through people.”
“AI and automation are changing the business landscape,” de Braux says. “The evolution of business technology is creating new jobs, new industries and new role specializations, so it helps to keep up with the trends.”
What business technology can do for you
Learning about these big trends in business technology is an excellent way to keep yourself competitive in both business and technology environments. Many of these changes and trends in business technology present a solid opportunity for skilled professionals to step in and flourish. Want to learn more about some of the positions poised for success in a digital economy? Check out our article, “6 High-Demand Hybrid Jobs That Straddle Business and Technology.”