Entrepreneurship and innovation have always been a cornerstone of the global economy. To improve innovation and increase jobs in the Unites States, entrepreneur and business adviser Bastiano Farran developed a strategy for the United States Department of Commerce that improved the survival rate of small and medium businesses (SMBs) by reducing the time from company launch to revenue generation.
Bastiano’s background in movies and big achievements in the business world gained the attention of millions of followers. In 2013, Bastiano and his brother founded SMI, the company would later change how the world does delivery. After SMI, he continued his career in business advisory to receive 4 reputable industry awards for his impact on the technology industry, and the entertainment industry.
Some of Bastiano’s advisory work is currently used as Business Case Studies taught in the Harvard Business School. In this interview with Bastiano, he discusses 5 technologies that will disrupt Small and Medium Businesses the coming years and some of their applications.
Big Data Unlocks Hyper Personalization
Hyper personalization removes a lot of the ambiguity and guess work around creating offers for our customers. Using big data, real-time analytics we can predict customer preference and customer behavior to create personalized offers, send offers through the right channels, and even tailor automated processes to improve customer experience. Ecommerce have become synonymous to personalization. Customers often get relevant off-site tailored offers, live product customizations to meet personal customer needs, interactive suggestions, personalized discounts and many more.
Hyper personalization impacts SMBs from multiple industries and not just ones that are in ecommerce. The availability of the technologies to enable hyper personalization creates capabilities for SMBs to learn more about their customers and better target them without the need of extensive research or having internal historic data on customers.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the simulation of human behavior by smart machines. Meaning, when we construct and program machines to perform tasks that are commonly performed by humans. Machine learning is a branch of AI where software use algorithms and data to predict outcomes, such as Netflix’s movie recommendations engine, which uses historic user data to predict the viewer’s preference and suggests movies that they may enjoy.
AI and Machine learning are becoming an integral part of businesses, and open opportunities for small businesses to implement advanced processes at a lower cost, and less resources than it they would normally cost. Here are some examples:
Customer service – From intelligent phone call bots to online chat bots, AI allows us to automate parts of customer service and to identify customer problems quickly.
Marketing: in todays’ world customers expect personalization as a minimum requirement. AI leverages customer data to anticipate customer behavior, target the right customer segments, and craft customized offers for the right customers at the right time.
Improve Decision Making: Machine learning demystifies data-driven decision making through out of the box or relatively easy to implement tools that are available in the market today. It can also simplify reporting through aggregating massive amount of data into useful insight and easy to consume reports.
Virtual Reality (VR)/ Augmented Reality (AR)
AR and VR applications go beyond gaming and entertainment. Today VR is being used in healthcare,
transportation, engineering and many more. Organizations can use AR and VR to provide all types of heightened experience for customers and for employees. It allows the interpretation of real-time information, experience virtual environments opening the world to new capabilities such as virtually training engineers and technicians on equipment instead of using real physical material. For example, engineers can virtually train on building an engine or a machine, instead of wasting many resources on failed attempts. On day-to-day functions, employees at any company can socially collaborate beyond the confines of computer screen, and even engage in fun team building activities, from anywhere in the world, or create customer-based scenarios which improves empathy with how customers experience company products.
In simple terms, Blockchain is a network public or private computers that stores real-time records of information and transactions between people or companies. The way Blockchains are designed make whatever we build using them immune to counterfeiting, decentralized, meaning does not require centralized authority, and protected by a strong encryption algorithm.
Blockchain became popular after it was used in the creation of Bitcoin, however the technology has numerous practical applications outside of crypto currency. By 2026, the value-add blockchain brings to businesses will grow over $360 billion. We currently see exceptional applications of Blockchain to transform business and industries.
An example of a company that is transforming the pet industry using blockchain technologies would be Pawtocol. Pawtocol has innovated a multi-functional platform that can helps pet parent’s make pet care decisions easier such as diet care, health, location, and others. The platform reduces the lifetime cost of pet ownership, and ultimately aims at improving the lives of pets.
Among many areas Blockchain will impact businesses include data-security against cyber-attacks, improving quality across entire supply chains, quicker direct payments, patient information for hospitals ensuring that they are accurate and up-to-date, background checks for employees, and many more.
Cyber Technologies – Cyber Threats and Cyber Defense
The Cybercrime economy is currently worth over $1.5 trillion. The surge in digitization catalyzed by the 2020 pandemic opened multiple threats on small business which are usually ill-equipped to deal with cyber threats. Phishing became more sophisticated where carefully targeted digital messages are transmitted to employees, there is a rise in Ransomware, cloud and IoT attacks, Cryptojacking and other cyber threats that impact SMBs today. Knowing how to deal with these threats and integrating risk management within daily operations will be an integral factor in businesses success.
Technology has made it easier for bad player to target businesses, however it also created many defense opportunities at a relatively low cost and without needing a high level of expertise in the field. Among these technologies that help SMBs deal with cyber threats, are AI-powered security solutions, Cloud security, IoT security, Next-gen authentication technology, among many third-party companies that provide out-of-the box or custom solutions to support SMBs.