Chatbots, collective intelligence and blockchain are some of the big technology trends that will change the way entrepreneurs run their businesses in 2017, according to cloud software company, Sage.
Sage chief technology officer, Klaus-Michael Vogelberg, outlined these technologies as part of six trends that SMEs should watch out for this year, as they are expected to change the way entrepreneurs run their businesses.
“As every business – big or small – is transforming more or less intensively into a tech-enabled business, today’s entrepreneurs should be on the lookout for the opportunities these technological developments can bring to their business,” he said.
Vogelberg said autonomous interfaces such as chatbots or digital agents will become increasingly common on different devices and user interfaces which entrepreneurs use to manage and control their businesses.
These interfaces are expected to dramatically change the way that humans and computers work and interact with each other as people will start talking with their systems or using gesture control such as hand, head or eye gestures to interact with them.
These systems will also work autonomously and have self-learning capabilities. He said eventually, these softwares could act without user intervention, or become smart in using information.
According to Vogelberg, artificial and collective intelligence is another major trend to look out for, even for smaller companies.
With mushrooming data volumes being generated by all sorts of sensors and devices and computer power and special analysis software and intelligent agents becoming increasingly affordable and powerful, companies need to find ways to extract knowledge from today’s wealth of big data, he said.
Vogelberg therefore advises SMEs to “team up”.
“If SMEs join forces and – while considering their corporate data protection policies and personal rights laws – share, for example, computer power and data with other companies in a structured and systematic manner, they could profit from this collaboration by receiving a better and larger data pool and superior data intelligence.
“Similar to crowdsourcing mechanisms, this enriched data pool would enable companies to better understand how customers behave, what they need, what to offer them and the business areas to invest in,” he added.
Blockchain is also another trend the company expects could impact current business models.
Vogelberg mentioned business builders should also carefully analyse if, and how, the new blockchain technology could impact their current business models as blockchain has the potential to eliminate a significant part of the workload – such as checking and booking transactions, transferring money or paying invoices.
The rise of platform-based infrastructure is another trend to watch out for.
In 2017, more and more SMEs will replace their stand-alone, on-site software systems with integrated, cloud-based software solutions that operate on global cloud platforms such as Salesforce.com as they offer users access to business apps and integrated services
“The big benefit of these platforms is that they give even smaller companies access to innovative business software solutions and services, which these companies would not have been able to afford five years ago.
“They allow business builders to discover new ways of working and give them the infrastructure needed to receive every kind of data from partners or IoT, analyse it, and then – in a “citizen developer” style – create something new and productive,” Vogelberg said.
SMEs should be on the lookout for new possibilities that emerge with the realisation of IoT, according to Vogelberg.
He claimed multiple data streams originating from all sorts of sensors built into things like machines, cars, mobile and immobile goods, clothes or even human beings for medical monitoring purposes, for example, will result in a true treasure trove of data, thus creating all sorts of new services.
The last trend he highlighted was revolutionising the movement of money.
The way people use money and transfer their payments from one account to another has already changed dramatically. He said in 2017, more and more new solutions will allow companies to establish an end-to-end payments value chain with their suppliers and customers.
“These new solutions enable ubiquitous anytime anywhere, immediate and omni-channel payments and will be fully integrated into the financial accounting systems of tomorrow’s enterprises.
“All parties, such as e-commerce platforms, banks, fin-techs or partners, will profit from open API standards which will be used for creating new services and enable seamless, fully-automated processing of payments and financial transactions.”
Vogelberg added that in 2017, every business will need to start thinking of itself as a technology business.
“To stay competitive, they will need to grasp the opportunities that this development brings with it and change almost every aspect of today’s more or less traditional ways of working,” he said.