With the increasing dependency on technology, hanging on to old methods of yesterday’s internet, even as an idea, seems obsolete. The current world of business welcomes you with wide open arms as long as your business is driven by good technology.

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As for small businesses, the need for an innovative approach has become more of a mandate. Due to which, the start-up industry has witnessed an uprise in technology-driven ventures. The existing small businesses will have to move on to the latest tech breakthroughs. If they don’t catch up with the latest trends, they would soon find themselves fading away faster than the unportable telecom industry.

With augmented reality, automation, the internet of things and machine learning ruling 2018, the year 2019 seems all set to witness a technological revolution. There are predictions that 2019 will transform the consumption of tech-related products. Here are a few tech trends that are expected to lead the way for businesses in 2019:

1. AI v/s AI

Artificial Intelligence is already a hit in 2018. It turned out to capture nearly 40% of businesses through Automation. By integrating Artificial Intelligence solutions to execute specific tasks, businesses have gained a competitive edge and now provide a higher-quality service experience for consumers. The existing trends indicate the exceeding integration of chatbots into businesses. So much so that chatbots are now developed into everyday products for consumers. Amazon’s Alexa and Amy (the new virtual assistant from X.ai) are two of such examples.

Artificial Intelligence is also gaining popularity as chatbots across digital platforms are being integrated for on-the-go assistance to consumers. The year 2019 will see Artificial Intelligence taking off to the future with more intelligent integrations. As of now, Artificial Intelligence is being used to duel against Artificial Intelligence itself. That’s right. The best way to make Artificial Intelligence smarter is by putting it against itself. Today, Artificial Intelligence creates images of objects and the same technology is used to recognise the reality of it.

2. 3D Metal Printing

The last couple of years has been dedicated to Plastic 3D printing, which has now been taken from a prosumer to a consumer level. Now, it’s time for 3D metal printing to be the next big wave in this industry. The giants in business are already making it big in the 3D Metal Printing game. For one, GE is already printing metal fuel nozzles for its Leap Jet Engines. Sports and fitness market leader Nike is printing metal cleats. Fear not, small businesses will also benefit more than market giants with 3D Metal Printing. With the small accommodating size of a 3D Metal Printer, small businesses can venture into the jewellery or toys industry. This will change the competitive landscape within SMB’s across all industries. Companies entering the market with this technological breakthrough will be on solid ground to take on the next decade.

3. Internet of Things for Everything

Rumour has it that the internet of things will be a choice for every business on earth in no time. The IoT impact is more immediate than that any other consumer-built technology. While Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) provide in-depth knowledge and perspective, their technologies are at least one step behind from what someone is actually experiencing in the real world.

That is what the IoT offers. Within the country, small businesses have been using IoT to sell smart homes and workplaces. While across the world, IoT's impact on retail companies is especially significant. This year, Amazon opened a number of Amazon Go stores – ones that allow consumers to enter these stores with a scan through their smartphone.

Once they enter, in-store cameras and sensors track their purchases. When the customers leave, the system charges their account for the total amount, dispersing the role of a cashier. Other competitors have awakened to this move by Amazon and have started integrated IoT to their customer experiences.

For instance, Target is using customer-sensing overhead lights to guide app users around the store and help them find specific products they're looking for – all through an app. Other retailers aren’t far behind; they are deploying IoT solutions for an immediate competitive advantage. Retail is just the start; IoT is ready to disrupt other industries such as finance, healthcare and automotive. IoT will soon become the standard in nearly every industry. Small businesses can only take advantage of the situation and be the ones to get it to market as soon as possible.

4. Data-Driven Healthcare

For years, doctors and hospitals around the world have collected information on various diseases, their diagnoses and treatments for research. Most of this information is stored within individual databases. Today, healthcare has adopted big data analytics to harness the unique ability to link patient information from vast databases in a way where the privacy of the patient is secure. Soon, analytics will move from reporting to prescriptive practices. It will create the possibility for truly personalized healthcare by allowing providers to impact bigger health determinants such as genetics and behaviours.

5. Autonomous Driving

The year 2018 has seen automakers join Google, Uber, and a growing number of startups to harness the technological advances to power next-generation of autonomous vehicles. Soon autonomous driving will overtake the driving of conventional vehicles within the next decade. The arrival of self-driving technology has already begun changing the design possibilities for all types of vehicles. There have been talks on the creation of new vehicle categories that don't yet exist. It will also change the dynamics of the economy in transportation. The mode of transit will also improve with faster, self-driven buses, vans and more in-between created vehicles. Small businesses across the world are already designing futuristic cars that have built-in safety features for autonomous driving. In India, we are waiting for innovators and disrupters to take the plunge and drive the Autonomous Driving industry home.

6. Video Content & Growing Digitalization

Internet video will be the leading driver of global Internet traffic in 2019, completely blowing things like data, file sharing, and gaming out of the water. There is a claim of video content taking over more than 80 per cent of all the web traffic by 2019. It only makes senses for businesses to adopt this as part of their strategy to map themselves in the minds of consumers.

Research analysts also state 90% of customers making purchase decisions come from engaging product videos. With the exponentially growing rate of digitalization, customers have lesser time to invest and more retention of video content. Around 64% of customers are likely to buy a product online immediately after watching a video about it. Small businesses must start integrating video content into their business strategy and create a narrative. It is quickly proving to be one of the most effective ways to create a brand and weave a story that strategically places one’s business as a top-of-mind-product for customers.

7. Blockchain & Remittances

For those who don’t know what Blockchain technology is all about – it describes as a technology which enables a peer-to-peer network of interconnected devices to store data rather than rely on central computers and defined locations (Read more). It is also a distributed ledger system that lets transactions happen within less or no time through cryptographically secured blocks of data. From offering upgraded security and authentication in agreements and supply chains to building real peer-to-peer business networks across retail, energy, and more, Blockchain has a great influence on the way business is being channelled today.

SMBs have been adopting blockchain development rapidly. It helps SMBs with the capability to transact and authenticate large-scale transactions quickly. It is one of the trends that showed immense growth in 2018 and will continue to do so. As a matter of fact, Blockchain is the technology behind cryptocurrencies across the globe. One other such cryptocurrency that is growing rapidly is Ripple. It doesn’t use Blockchain, it rather uses hash tree aka Merkle tree to allow instant remittances across borders without added marginal fees. One such Ripple based digital payment service provider is InstaReM. It allows small and medium businesses to make international money transfers in 55+ countries and does not add any added FX margins to it. And the best part is that there are no hidden charges as well. The only charge is a nominal fee to cover the cost of processing your transaction. InstaReM ensures complete transparency and provides one with an accurate breakup of the remittance.

This is a great time for small businesses to take note of the expansion possibilities and to plan their path ahead. There are too many good choices and one hard decision to make. But technology is going to be a compulsion in whatever they decide to venture into. The year 2019 is going to be far more promising in technology than we all imagine it to be.


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