Tech adoption is a huge factor in becoming an industry leader.

How huge? A recent Gartner study found that industries who self-identify as "tech pioneers" are likely to have double the growth of those who view themselves as "followers," and more than three times that of the "cautious" group.

"You need to not only anticipate change but assume that it is going to happen far faster than you could ever imagine," writes author and thought leader Paul B. Brown, a prominent critic of disproportionate deliberating. "And you also need to assume your competition is going to be moving far faster than you expect them to."

What does this mean for you? The answer is short and simple: there's no room at the top for those unwilling to adapt to cutting-edge technologies.

So, to help you put that insight to work, here's a list of five cutting edge tools that will give you a major lead in the tech race, no matter the business you are in.

1. Unlock Enterprise-Level BI With Sisense

Conventional wisdom has it that business intelligence is the realm of data scientists, but forward-leaning BI platforms are usable by the rest of us too. Sisense, for example, allows you to combine complex data sets from a wide swath of sources and turn the information into insights that you can act on quickly.

The platform features libraries of analysis types, so you don't need to wait for a statistician to hunt for correlations. Its proprietary "In-Chip Engine" lets you run queries on the fly and receive answers within seconds. And best of all, Sisense-powered dashboards can be accessed via any connected device with a web browser, so you don't need to virtually connect to your office network via a VPN in order to keep track of trends.

"The charm of Sisense in that people feel comfortable using it right away," the company's co-founder and CTO, Eldad Farkash, recently told Forbes. "They don't need to go through training and are able to be productive and see results instantly. This makes Sisense really easy to sell from the bottom up because it's a tool that shows the value a person can get from their data quickly, easily, and clearly."

Real time data-driven insights are now accessible to anyone on your management team, no matter where they happen to be.

2. Stay on Top of Support Flows With Freshdesk

It is never too early to start streamlining your customer service, and Freshdesk is built to do just that.

While some customers love to hear a helpful, human voice when they call your support line, many tech-savvy customers are more comfortable using a self-service platform to find the answers they need without going through lengthy hold times and explanations.

With Freshdesk, you can build a robust directory of FAQs and guides to help your customers troubleshoot and fix the issues they have--quickly.

Additionally, Freshdesk allows you to invite other customers to ask questions and respond to other customers, so using such a platform will drastically minimize the amount of time you spend on customer service, while making your customers happy.

The platform is currently used by major corporations such as Honda, 3M and Toshiba as well as online-based companies such as QuizUp and Goodreads.

3. Manage Forms With Adobe Document Cloud

To speed through document tasks and finish business faster, you'll need Adobe Document Cloud. This is the latest version of Adobe Acrobat, which features eSign technologies that enable users to sign PDF documents on their screens (adopted from EchoSign, which Adobe bought in 2011).

Acrobat has come a long way from its primary use of viewing and printing PDF documents. Now, along with the ability to sign documents, you can create PDFs using Office files, as well as edit them. Gone are the days of painstakingly recreating a PDF in Word in order to make a few changes.

Of course, with the world going mobile, Adobe has stepped up to the plate and created mobile version of Acrobat DC, which allows you to work from virtually anywhere.

This tool will not only come in handy for businesses that handle contracts and lots of other paperwork, but especially for agencies or consultants whose workflows depend on client mockups, demos and documentation.

4. Visualize Your Pipeline Holistically With Qlik

Ranked number three in Forbes' Fast Tech 25 list, Qlik is the perfect tool to help you discover hidden insights to help your business improve.

If your business accumulates tons of data but is unsure of what to do with it, Qlik offers salvation. Qlik's data visualization products help you to pull in data, create graphs and charts to show how they relate and help you to make informed decisions to move your business forward.

Non-profit organization Feed the Children, for example, uses QlikView to provide insight into donor behavior and analyze more than 70 million records in a fraction of the time it used to take, eliminating one whole day of processing time.

On the other hand, Alternative Apparel, a fashion retailer, uses it as a "one stop shop" for data visibility for all employees, thereby eliminating IT requests for queries and reports on the fly, and improving teamwork and customer satisfaction.

5. Get in on the 3D Printing Buzz With Shapeways

While 3D printing may feel like something from the future, that future is already here. In fact, 3D printing is no longer in its awkward trial period, and Shapeways is one of the first to make the jump to offer it directly to the public on an on-demand basis.

Not only can you create these products and have them shipped to you, you can also sell them directly from Shapeways. That's a step forward and a great marketplace opportunity for businesses in product design, as well as jewelers, gadget-makers and artists. If you want to impress your customers and stay ahead of your competition, this is the way to go. Just take a look at the amazing products being designed and sold on the Shapeways site. Their marketplace has everything from iPhone cases and accessories to home decor.

With 3D printing devices available on commercial marketplaces like Amazon, it won't be long before this becomes the norm. The once far-fetched idea of a 3D printer in every home now seems like a very likely possibility in the near future.

Therefore, it's a very good idea to start capitalizing on the technology now, before the space gets crowded and you're left in the dust.

Are You Getting Left Behind?

The future looks brighter with these technologically advanced tools.

Things we thought were impossible 20 years ago--like accurately predicting consumer behavior and printing remotely using 3D technology, for example--are now reality. Even better, there are established companies and startups working daily to bring even more great advancements to improve the way we do business.

Don't get left behind. Remember, being an industry leader demands adopting new technologies--before your competition beats you to it.

Published on: Apr 6, 2016