One thing is certain about the future of small business technology trends — it’s uncertain.
But don’t tell that to the prognosticators who drummed up pie-in-the-sky prophesies like flying cars, hoverboards and readily available jetpacks. It’s 2022, and I’m still driving around my F-150.
What also is certain? They aren’t the first or won’t be the last to claim clairvoyance in the name of technology and business. Plenty of others have earned their fair share of derision from boneheaded delusions.
A good example is today’s digital-first marketplace. The reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. These are only some of the worst offenders.
1. “I predict the internet … will soon go supernova and in 1996, catastrophically collapse.”
— Robert Metcalfe, 1995
Who would’ve thought the father of ethernet technology would scorn the power and potential of the internet? Obviously, Metcalfe missed the mark in spectacular fashion.
Today’s small business owners know how vital the internet is to their success. In fact, it’s so vital that without it, their business’s pulse would flatline.
Also, without the internet, we wouldn’t have all the smart software integrations or cloud computing that small businesses run on. We’re living in a digital world and, for the sake of keeping this metaphorical song lyric authentic, we’re all digital girls.
Metcalfe might have given us one of the biggest blunders of all time, but today’s small business technology trends are surprisingly trouncing another tech giant: Bill Gates.
2. “These Google guys, they want to be billionaires and rock stars … Let us see if they still want to run the business in two to three years.”
— Bill Gates, 2003
Bill is likely referring to Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Google’s then-CEO and Chairman Eric Schmidt. Thank the stars above they did still want to run the business because Google is the best friend of business owners and consumers worldwide.
Google dominates the field of search engines with more than 90% market portion. The next closest is Bing with a measly 2.78%.
It’s safe to say that when anyone across the globe searches online, they almost exclusively use Google. In fact, it’s so ubiquitous that its name is now a verb.
But what about the little guys; the mom-and-pop shops? Google helps them stake their own claim online and get found by local consumers, starting with its Google Business Profile feature.
This should go without saying but, if you don’t have a Google Profile, your business isn’t getting found. Need proof?
- “Near me” mobile searches increased 136% in 2021.
- 86% of users use Google Maps to search for local stores and businesses.
- 46% of all searches on Google include local intent.
Consumers in your communities are searching online for local businesses. Help them find you by getting your small business on Google.
3. “Remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop — because women like to get out of the house, like to handle the merchandise, like to be able to change their minds.”
— The Futurists, Time Magazine, 1966
Nearly 60 years later and the Time Magazine Futurists couldn’t be more wrong. Not only do men like to shop, but all genders are enthusiastically engaging with businesses remotely.
Non-face-to-face interactions between business owners and customers aren’t anything new. However, COVID-19 shot us forward even faster to a contactless and touchless marketplace.
While the cause for this movement in 2020 was to stop the infection’s spread, there were undertones of consumer convenience. And once consumers got a taste of doing business easier, it’s now an all-you-can-eat convenience buffet.
Businesses big and small evolved their business models to offer ways to do business digitally and in person. If you thought the digital push was just a fad, you might end up looking like the Futurists of 1966.
If you haven’t joined this particular small business technology trend, hop on the bandwagon and create a better digital experience before it’s too late. The trend may not end, but your business might.
4. “There’s just not that many videos I want to watch.”
— YouTube Founder Stephen Chen, 2005
During YouTube’s infancy, even its founder was skeptical about the video platform’s popularity and success. But Google wasn’t. They bought 18-month-old YouTube for over $1 billion and turned that investment into $28.8 billion today.
After video killed the radio star, traditional marketing strategy was its next victim. Short-form video is a popular small business technology trend of late and it’s only picking up steam.
Now that consumers use social media for search and entertainment purposes, video-sharing platforms like YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels and TikTok can be breeding grounds for digital marketing success.
5. “By the turn of the century, we will live in a paperless society.”
— GM Chairman Roger Smith, 1986
Smith’s prediction wasn’t nearly as obtuse as others. In fact, his vision is slowly becoming a reality. Large corporations like Bank of America and even Dubai’s government have gone paperless.
Eliminating paper from your business’s operations isn’t just an incredibly conscientious act for our environment. It’s convenient for you and consumers. After all, who wants to keep track of all that paper anyway?
Small business’s biggest paper- and time-wasting culprits reside within customer data collection, especially estimates, invoices and receipts.
Customer relationship management systems (CRMs) and digital payment software are two small business technologies that will solve this problem and help create positive customer experiences.
Good small business software (like this one) should be equipped with a CRM that organizes all customer data, including past payment documentation. It also should support your communications with any number of customers in various digital ways — emails, texts, web chat social inboxes and more.
In addition, that same software solution should make the entire purchase process less paper-intensive by helping you create electronic invoices, estimates and receipts automatically.
Small business’s technological accomplishments and thirst for convenience have made one thing clear — you never know which small business technology trends will crush tech giants’ predictions 10, 20 or 50 years from now.