Technology has impacted many aspects of our lives, with business practices being one example of the enormous changes it has brought. It’s no exaggeration to say that the pace of developing technology has been the main driving force behind changing business practices over the past 20 years. We have only to recall a typical office or shop in the last decade of the twentieth century to see how much everything has been transformed.
Of course advances in technology is nothing new. One can look at the earliest developments of farming and say that they were technology-driven, as we went from tending fields by hand to the introduction of the horse-drawn plough and then tractors and combine harvesters. Or we can look at the industrial revolution, the most disruptive technology event of business history- at least until the emergence of the internet.
The internet and the rise in digital technology is certainly the biggest thing to have hit business since the industrial revolution and may even surpass it in terms of the wide-ranging transformation it created and is still creating. Digital technology has changed the way we work completely, but the IT revolution isn’t over yet. It may be another 20 years before we will truly be able to look back and see how completely digital technology transformed the business world.
The biggest and most obvious change from 20th century practices is how connected we all are. Communication is now instant, constant and easy all across the globe. We take email, mobile phones, text messages and video conferencing for granted, but just think how many things we do at work would be impossible without them. Sending documents as attachments or sharing them on the cloud, enabling remote real-time collaboration are further advantages granted by this technology.
Social media and apps allow businesses to have two-way communication with customers and the public, which opens up incredible new avenues for promotion and also market research. Every business today has a website and as such is potentially a global concern. Your website is your storefront to the world, and technology enables all of us to easily create a corporate video or a striking image to convey our brand message.
The internet and accessible digital technology have levelled the playing field, enabling small businesses and start-ups to compete on an equal footing with established multi-nationals. But they have also made the business sphere more competitive, as your next rival could come from nowhere and suddenly outpace you by the deployment of a new technological advantage. Technology has made doing business easier in many ways, but it also serves to keep us all on our toes.
It’s far easier to collaborate with business partners using technology, and this fact has opened up a multitude of new potential ventures. The ease with which certain functions can be outsourced also means small businesses don’t have to own and run every aspect of what they do. Exciting developments like improved 3-D printing will make this even easier.
It’s impossible to overstate the impact of new technology on business, and equally impossible to sum it all up in a single article. Tech presents both new opportunities and new challenges. No business can afford to fall behind in this area, and the future is wide open.