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As we head into 2018 there are some exciting IT trends that are revolutionising the way we do business every single day. And while some of these have become strategic technology trends for savvy SMBs and companies looking to differentiate and increase efficiencies, they’ve also been a mere afterthought for some who will no doubt get left behind.

If you haven’t already taken notice of the way your competitors are adopting these new technologies, then you might want to make 2018 the year you make a change. These trends are migrating from being ‘highly innovative’ to ‘mainstream’ and can create a wealth of opportunity for SMBs that want to increase efficiencies and capitalise on them.

So what are the hottest technology trends you need to know about in 2018? Here are a few to get you thinking...

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The ability to enhance the customer experience and decision making process through AI will no doubt start redesigning enterprise business models in 2018, if not already.

While machine learning and AI won’t replace every task a human can do any time soon, machine learning solutions that focus on a more targeted task will be high on the agenda for this year. For SMBs this could be as simple as AI that assists marketers to better qualify leads, or chatbots that engage and remedy inquiry.

AI in 2018 will create opportunities for SMBs that comprise consumer-facing roles, by automating repetitive tasks while shifting input from multiple systems over into one central place.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented Reality (AR), the technology which overlays digital elements onto a physical landscape, is creating opportunities for enterprises across a myriad of industries.

For example, an architect might use AR to overlay impressions of his home design right onto the client’s block of land, or a retail furniture store might use AR to perfectly place new furniture into an empty home to satisfy a would-be buyer. Imagine transforming your bland boardroom into a plush-looking conference facility for your next video conference pitch.

Until now, the full potential of AR has not been realised by mainstream business, but in 2018 this will start to change. Smartphones are looking to integrate AR capabilities and companies are looking at ways they can implement AR to create opportunities, close deals and differentiate themselves from their competitors.

AR will change the user experience now and in the future, so now is a good time to start to think about how it might change or disrupt your industry, and what you can do to get the most out of it.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a watercooler topic for many years now, but with the likes of Google Home and Amazon Echo, it’s a trend that’s hurling towards the mainstream at maximum speed.

The new world will see a multitude of devices connecting and talking to each other - in fact some speculate that by 2020 there will be more than 30 billion connected devices. How does this affect day-to-day life and business?

Let’s say your alarm clock pings at 6.30am and tells the coffee machine to boil; or en route to a meeting, traffic is heavy, so your car sends a message to your colleagues notifying them of the delay.

IoT is opening up a large, wriggly can of opportunities for SMBs and large corporations; with so many devices talking to each other, there is more data, and with more data we can get insight into so much more, like consumer mapping and buying behaviours.

This alone will help shape the way we do things; from how we market and promote products and services to inventory tracking and management. It also presents opportunities for SMBs that are geared towards thinking outside the square and outsmarting their competitors.

Smart workplaces

Digitisation has paved the way for remote and work-from-home roles. Not only do smart workplaces help reduce a company’s carbon footprint, it also promotes more flexible working environments for staff who can be dotted all around the world whilst collaborating. This trend is going to further evolve in 2018 as some core elements shift from being innovative to mainstream.

Web-based real time communication tools, like Zoom and GoToMeeting will replace desktop programmes, and video-enabled conferencing stations will be de rigueur for most workplaces. IoT-enabled offices will also pave the way for efficient working environments as devices continue to talk to each other to streamline procedures and increase efficiency both onsite and remotely.

Digital collaboration

As we shift into 2018, so too will the focus on enterprise content management. Companies will look to shed antiquated systems and procedures to make way for holistic information management that focuses on sharing, utilisation and management of all information across departments within an organisation. With this also comes the demand for better security across all platforms.

Employees are now expecting the multi-channel user experience across most touch points in the workplace where centralised shared files, calendars, real-time video conferencing and instant messaging will become woven into the fabric of mainstream business as we head into 2018 and beyond.

Want to take a step in the right direction when it comes to your document management workflows? Book a free site audit and we’ll show you how.

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