In almost every industry, technology improvements are constantly changing how we run businesses and how we innovate within them. But how can small businesses tell what's a fad and what's worth paying attention to? Here are the five tech trends that we think small businesses should watch in 2023.
1. Responsible data use
Almost every digital interaction creates data, and with that data comes both opportunities and responsibilities. Any data use requires companies to be on top of their game when it comes to regulatory, legal, and reputational risks. SMEs need to understand exactly what their compliance obligations are and put responsible practices in place in order to minimise risk and build the communities they engage with.
2. Blockchain for business
Blockchain is the new decentralised technology which is rapidly changing as more and more businesses and governments adopt it. Even though millions of people all over the world have used, invested in, or traded cryptocurrency, blockchains can do a lot more than just make transactions possible. For small businesses, there is still a lot of confusion about how decentralised technology works and if it can be used for many of the things that people say it can. But blockchains are being used increasingly in the real world in supply chain logistics, digital identity, and the use of smart contracts. Blockchain technology could also change how we do business and keep track of money in the future.
3. The next generation of AI
AI (artificial intelligence) has always been popular in science fiction, but each year, more and more real-world use cases are coming to light that are giving small businesses opportunities. AI is already an ordinary part of our lives, like when Google Maps suggests places close by or when Amazon reminds you to reorder something you need. Newer tools like Stable Diffusion and ChatGPT are a good reminder of how AI and machine learning models can be used to do things that were previously unthinkable, like make images from scratch or talk like humans. AI solutions are now an important part of improving processes and making business decisions. They also have the potential to make accounting much better. The chance for small businesses lies in what AI might be able to tell us about the future, giving us a glimpse of what's to come and taking away manual work to save time. That could mean predicting cash flow based on both internal business data and external macroeconomic data, automating whole parts of the back-office business process, or helping businesses figure out the best times to contact customers and suppliers based on past behaviour.
4. Getting around in the metaverse
Even though interest is growing, people still argue about what the metaverse is and what its future will be like. The idea is to use a mix of virtual reality and augmented reality to create a more connected, and immersive customer experience that combines the real and digital worlds. Even though widespread use is still a long way off, more and more companies are making platforms and hardware that can help make the metaverse a reality. This gives small businesses the chance to think about this space and how it might change how they reach and interact with their employees and customers over the next year and beyond. In the same way that the global pandemic made video conferencing mainstream, the technologies that make up the metaverse are likely to change the way we talk, give advice, sell, buy, coach, and work with each other every day. Using hybrid and media experiences that already use this technology is a good place for businesses to see what's possible.
5. Embedded finance
Over the past 10 years, financial services have changed a lot. This is mostly because of financial inclusion and the demand from businesses and consumers for quick, easy access to financial products on the platforms and tools they already use. Small businesses will continue to have more opportunities to succeed, as technologies like embedded finance and open banking grow worldwide. Integration of financial services with business infrastructures that have nothing to do with money is also gaining speed. Embedded finance is changing the way we deal with money by making it easier to use cash solutions in everyday tasks.
The bottom line
Tech is set to really drive innovation in the SME sector, and the winning players will be the ones who are able to comb through the clutter and apply smart tech-driven solutions to their operations. To fund your next tech innovation, contact Merchant Capital and fund your business’s growth in the next 48 hours.