Not all business needs call for Coke-bottle glasses. But viewing them through the lens of high-powered technologies can help you see solutions to everyday, office-size problems.
Look at all the phones, computer mice, and laptops around your office: Without space travel, none of the technologies you use every day would exist.
Get inspired: Use these three tech-based strategies to fuel not just your innovation work but also improvements in every area of your business:
1. Let the Machines Take a Look
Human beings are brilliant. But when it comes to seeing patterns, automated tools have the edge.
For example, machine learning is excellent at spotting cancer. Medical imaging firm CureMetrix uses A.I. to assist radiologists in the mammography process. Its cmAssist software identifies each potential region of interest in a mammogram and assigns a score indicating suspiciousness. Compared with traditional software, it can lead to a 27 percent increase in detecting cancer while avoiding false positives 69 percent more often.
While your business may not be doing life-and-death work, it still works with patterns. Audience analytics platforms can uncover new customer demographics. A.I.-infused sales software can predict which leads are most likely to close. Use these tools to find nuggets hidden in the noise.
2. Mind the Details
What's that customer's nickname? Where is that company truck parked? When is the next product iteration due?
As an entrepreneur, you don't have time to track every little thing. But in crises like Covid-19, some details are critical. Tools like the POM Tracer, a wearable contact-tracing device that recently received a $3 million Series A investment, can "identify in a matter of minutes individuals who have had close contact with anyone who could test positive for Covid-19," according to Ronell Conner, director of information technology at the Lawrenceville School.
The good news is, most details don't require a brand-new device to track. CRM systems can make sure you're up to speed on every customer interaction. A knowledge management system can make sure your team never needs to ask you for the Wi-Fi password again.
3. Check Your Crystal Ball
Beating your competitors boils down to something simple: seeing the future before they do. Compared with that, hiring the right engineers and developing features is a cakewalk.
To combat climate change, Google's DeepMind subsidiary developed a tool that can make remarkable predictions: how much energy a certain source will be able to generate at any given time.
While coal-fired power plants can run all of the time, wind turbines and solar arrays rely on weather conditions. By anticipating output, DeepMind can increase the value of wind-generated power by up to 20 percent.
Your business may not be trying to save the world, but you can certainly make use of forecasting tools. You might want to know, for example, how much revenue to expect to generate next quarter. If you operate an e-commerce shop, your customers might like a prediction engine to recommend products similar to their past purchases.
You may not be an astronomer or a rocket scientist, but you can still borrow their ideas. So the next time you're reading about some space-age technology, ask yourself: How might this not just trickle down to but build up the way I do business?