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Adopting leading-edge technology in your business has its pros and cons.
First, the downsides: When you're at the leading edge it takes special creativity to envision how to use new technologies. You may run into deployment challenges that haven't quite been worked out yet. And there are fewer people with whom you can kick around ideas and solutions.
But the benefits of new technologies definitely outweigh the cons. According to management consulting firm Deloitte's analysis of connected small businesses in the U.S., companies that were digitally advanced earned twice as much revenue per employee. In addition, their average employment growth rate was more than six times higher than their counterparts. And just think of the ways your business can lead in the marketplace with unique offerings through advanced technologies.
Ready to dive in? Here are four future technologies you should be employing now to leap ahead of your competition.
1. Augmented reality (AR) marketing
Being able to overlay digital information over a customer's reality is what gives AR marketing so much potential. The AR market is projected to reach $117.4 billion by 2022, according to research by Markets and Markets.
A great application of the technology is The New York Times' AR campaign for the 2018 Winter Olympics. During key moments in reading a story, suddenly the text fades away to reveal a 3D image of athletes in the room with the reader.
But you don't have to be The New York Times to deploy it for your small business. AR can be as simple and free as using the Snapchat Lens Studio. Candy Lab and Skingnz are just a couple of the apps you can start using now. Or hire developers and AR marketing firms for custom implementation.
2. AI with intelligent analytics
Although artificial intelligence (AI) is currently the buzzword in tech, not many small businesses are using it. A survey conducted by Salesforce revealed only 11 percent of small businesses said they're currently using AI, and another 61 percent said they are not ready for it.
The fact is, AI solutions can be integrated easily and affordably. Adding intelligent analytics to the mix will make your business that much more ready to deal with your competition and deliver better services to customers.
3. Interactive live content
The engagement value of posting a video on your website or social media page is no longer enough. Instead, think about how to open interaction between you and your audience and empower them to be part of your process.
Using interactive live content is one way you can competitively differentiate. It gives your audience something to look forward to, and you can generate valuable data for product development and future marketing campaigns. And once you are done with an event, you can post it like a regular video so users that didn't participate can watch it.
4. Open banking
According to McKinsey, the potential benefits of open banking are substantial. For small businesses it means being able to deliver better customer service and generate new revenue streams, while at the same time accessing underserved markets.
Open banking allows consumers and businesses to share banking data across multiple services. For instance, Mint.com uses application programming interfaces (APIs) to collect information from various financial institutions and then provides analytics and planning tools for consumers to use all that data in one place. Think about the different ways open banking information can be used as a transactional solution or opportunity in your business.
One last piece of advice: don't go after every cutting-edge technology at once. Figure out which one offers the greatest benefits, and evaluate that one first.